What is good technology? — Part III, or why I got a Mac

My MacBook ProWhen I first started shopping for a replacement to my aging Dell laptop, it was almost a foregone conclusion: I would get another Windows laptop. I have been using Microsoft Windows for 20 years and invested a lot in software and data.

However, I was getting tired of buying disposable laptops that last three years and die. That was the situation with my Dell laptop. I bought a top-of-the-line Studio 15 in 2009, but I had various problems with it. Hinges cracked. The optical drive didn’t always read discs or eject them. What made this worse is that this was a slot drive, so it would take many frantic presses of the Eject button to get the computer to spit out the disc. That was when the keyboard worked at all, as my Dell had keys that required several presses to type.

Some of our Windows laptops didn’t even last as long as my Dell. My daughter’s Compaq laptop conked out after two years, and my son lost three keys from a two-year-old HP.

If my past experiences with Windows laptops weren’t enough of an issue, the future of Windows didn’t make my choice any easier. I just wasn’t feeling the Windows 8 love. My son already has a Windows 8-style interface on his XBox 360, and he hates it. It may be a fine interface for tablets and smartphones, but not for game consoles and traditional computers.

That left me one other choice: The Mac. I had used Macs before, but I hadn’t touched one since the Reagan administration. With my options for Windows laptops dwindling, I decided to give the MacBook Pro a look.

I was drawn to the MacBook Pro because of its reliability. It seemed like a sturdy, well-built piece of equipment. There was nothing cheap or plastic about it. I have some first-hand experience with Apple’s durability. When I was announcing a Little League game, my third generation iPod Nano slipped from my hands and fell 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the dirt below.  Some kids fished it out from under the announcing platform. To the dismay of my son and his teammates, it still played “American Child” perfectly. That iPod Nano still works well well today, even though it is 4 1/2 years old.

The more I tried competing Windows products, the better the Mac looked. A Dell laptop had keys that were so squishy and poorly spaced, my hands hurt after five minutes of typing. With an HP laptop, I had to dig my fingertips into the trackpad to get it to scroll. There was a Samsung that looked good, but my experiences with a flaky Samsung cell phone made me question the quality of its laptops.

None of the other Windows products compared to the quality of the MacBook Pro. The keys are firm and comfortable. I can glide my fingers over the trackpad to get it to work. The screen is bright with clearly readable text. I also didn’t have to worry about losing my years of data. The programs I use the most on Windows — Microsoft Office, Quicken, and TurboTax — are also available on the Mac. There are a variety of great writing, publishing, and graphic programs that are only available on the Mac and can read my older Windows files. I can even run Windows on my Mac if I needed it.

Apple computers are more expensive than comparable Windows products, but I was able to save money by buying a refurbished model. It works just as well and looks just as nice as the new models in the Apple Store. It even had that “new laptop smell” of fresh aluminum — something I never encountered in any of the plastic Windows laptops I bought new.

I’ve had my MacBook Pro for over two weeks, and I’m still very happy with it. I can now see why people are fanatical about Apple products — why they line up overnight at the Apple Store to get their hands on the latest product or put Apple stickers on the back window of their cars. Apple products are just that good.

The real test is whether I’ll still be happy with my MacBook Pro years from now. From the forum posts I’ve read from owners of older Macs, the prospects look good.

Like I said a while ago, good technology is useful technology. Once again, Apple proved to me that it makes good technology.