Mac/PC/Chromebook — Which One is Best for Small Business?

I get asked a lot about Mac vs Win­dows… I tried to just find a sim­ple arti­cle just to share, but no luck. So here’s my attempt to help.
Note: This is for a non-techie, non-gamer person. Just for a small business person with an iPad, iPhone who might want to do creative things for her business (and uses Wix for a web site so needs more than a tablet.) And it’s NOT trying to start a Mac/PC flame war… just trying to help normal folks who have this question. If you KNOW which you want to buy and might get mad about what I say— you don’t need to read this, right?? 😉

 

Buying Advice From Your Friendly Geeky Photographer

My Mac­Book Pro lap­py has kept Huth­Pho­to going on the road for years… and we use PCs too, as well as lots of mobile tech.

Executive Summary:

The Mac vs. PC choice isn’t as crit­i­cal as in the past since so much of what we do is online. We have more uni­ver­sal soft­ware, and our mobile tech are real­ly our go-to devices for the sim­ple work.

For laptop choices, here are some quick ways to think about the options:

Win­dows PC is good for giv­ing you the cheap­est deals & options.

Mac is good if you like using all their devices and don’t mind pay­ing a bit more to get qual­i­ty & ease of use.

Chrome­book is a new­er idea for super-cheap uses… just like an iPad, but it can do online things more like a com­put­er.

My advice for a non-techie small business with simple computer needs:

If you just can’t put $$ in, try a Chrome­book from some­where you can return it, if it doesn’t work out.

A cheap PC could work OK… I just wor­ry that a non-techie user will get frus­trat­ed doing the upkeep, and will spend what they think they saved on the pur­chase at the ‘Geek Squad’ get­ting help.

Per­son­al­ly, I’d invest the extra $300 in a refur­bished Mac that over the next years you’ll use for pho­to tweak­ing, video clips, ad design, etc. Think­ing long-term and for the cre­ative uses small busi­ness peo­ple end up doing, Macs are great. Just save up a few months and go for the upgrade.

•••••••••••••••• The details ••••••••••••

Chromebook: Cheapest option just to get the basics done

To just check email, surf the web and edit a web site, a Chrome­book might be the best choice.

Pros:

cheap and has a fea­ture that if you total­ly screw things up like get a virus, you can do an easy com­plete reset

Cons:

  • cheap­ly made, not pow­er­ful, to do most things on it you need to be con­nect­ed to the inter­net
  • this isn’t an invest­ment in a great com­put­er to do oth­er things with in the future… it’s just a glo­ri­fied iPad with a key­board

PC/Windows: Save $300 but may be more frustrating?

You can get sales and save 10–20% BUT that’s not count­ing things like virus soft­ware, pay­ing for soft­ware that Mac includes for free, etc. Here’s an arti­cle on Mac PC cost analy­sis in Com­put­er­world.

Pros:

  • cheap options are avail­able
  • lots of choic­es on fea­tures
  • can get some­thing at Cost­co, etc
  • they do make high-end ones sim­i­lar to Mac fea­tures and you can save maybe 10%
  • check out this pro PC arti­cle in Tech Advi­sor

Cons:

  • Microsoft charges for things Apple includes for free… like Microsoft Word (Mac’s ver­sion is free).
  • For the aver­age non-tech user, a PC may be more frus­trat­ing to keep up to date, fix weird prob­lems, etc. Our Win­dows PC, we find it MUCH hard­er to fig­ure out issues.
  • Microsoft is VERY cor­po­rate… so they want to make sure you’re not using their stuff on too many com­put­ers, or there’s a lim­it­ed time they’ll let you upgrade— Apple gives it to you for free to use how­ev­er you want.

Mac: It’s an investment

Mac hard­ware and soft­ware and iPhone and iPad all work real­ly well togeth­er.

Since Apple makes it all, there’s some real­ly nifty bonus­es to using a Mac. My phone knows what web sites I was just on in my com­put­er, all of my pass­words, pho­tos, mail, etc are shared between all devices, etc.

We get a super long life out of a Macs, because they always have top-end hard­ware, build qual­i­ty, and they do new things first… My main pho­to iMac is 6 years old & I don’t plan on upgrad­ing for a while.

Pros:

  • Apple includes lots of full fea­tured soft­ware for free like their ‘office’ soft­ware, pho­to and video apps are great and free, etc.
  • Macs are the clos­est to ‘it just works’ with lit­tle tech knowl­edge
  • Macs are always top qual­i­ty and in my expe­ri­ence more reli­able over years of hard use.
  • Apple is #1 in cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. I’ve read about the total cost of own­er­ship over the life of a com­put­er being bet­ter… and we just love going to the Apple Store.
  • buy­ing a bet­ter com­put­er is an invest­ment so some­day you can do more with it— lots of pho­to edit­ing, video clips, design­ing stuff, etc (you could also do this on a decent Win­dows PC too… but not on Chrome­book)
  • less chance of virus­es (any com­put­er can get one though, and the only real defense is a smart user)

Cons:

  • You pay a lit­tle bit more up front, just like you pay more for a Lexus than a Toy­ota. Don’t let peo­ple tell you Macs are WAY over­priced, that’s not true when com­par­ing every­thing.
  • Apple doesn’t want you to tin­ker with a Mac, so there’s lit­tle upgrade options down the line

So, yes… I like Macs, based on lots of expe­ri­ence with help­ing peo­ple on their com­put­ers… but I total­ly think it’s fine if you are techie enough or have help and choose to buy a PC— and many peo­ple could do 90% of every­thing on an iPad or get a Chrome­book… these are great days with LOTS of options.

I hope that helps any­one with the same ques­tions my client had. And here’s anoth­er great resource if you love pod­casts like I do.

Leo Laporte the Tech Guy is SO infor­ma­tive in a non-geeky way about tech issues like the best cam­eras, phones, com­put­er prob­lems and week­ly tech news. Check his shows out and here’s his main ‘Tech Guy’ pod­cast on iTunes.

 

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