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After be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated with his MacBook SÉA­MUS BEL­LAMY de­cided to move to a PC. Here’s what hap­pened

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

After nearly 20 years as a Mac user, I’m switch­ing to a Win­dows PC. De­spair drove me to switch from a Mac to a PC. I’ve used Ap­ple com­put­ers since col­lege, start­ing with a Ap­ple Mac Clas­sic II in a com­puter lab. It had a low-res­o­lu­tion mono­chrome dis­play. And a floppy drive. Soon I bought a used Pow­erBook 100. From then on, I was com­mit­ted,

steadily work­ing my way through Pow­erBooks, iBooks, MacBooks, a MacBook Air and MacBook Pros.

Fast-for­ward to now: I’ve come to rely heav­ily on Ap­ple-ex­clu­sive soft­ware that syncs data with my iPad Pro, iPhone SE and my cur­rent com­puter – a 13in 2015 MacBook Pro Retina with 8GB of RAM, a 2.9GHz In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor, and a 512GB SSD. My 400-film and 11,000-me­dia col­lec­tion lives in iTunes.

My prob­lem with Ap­ple is the lack of pol­ish I’ve been see­ing in the soft­ware over the past few years (don’t get me started on the state of iTunes), and the amount of trou­ble I’ve had per­son­ally with the hard­ware since in­vest­ing over £2,000 for my cur­rent lap­top. My work­flow has been plagued by graph­i­cal glitches, slow­downs, and oc­ca­sional re­fusal on the part of my ports to rec­og­nize ex­ter­nal stor­age me­dia. At times, my MacBook Pro has out­right re­fused to boot. I couldn’t get it to for­mat an SD card if my life de­pended on it. Re­in­stalling macOS has done noth­ing to sort out these is­sues, nor has restor­ing my sys­tem from a Time Ma­chine backup.

Hav­ing paid ex­tra for Ap­pleCare, I’ve taken in my MacBook Pro sev­eral times to be ser­viced. A few months ago, an Ap­ple tech re­placed the en­tire bot­tom half of my com­puter with a new one – it cost less than hunt­ing down an is­sue with the lap­top’s logic board, I was told. And yet, the thing still re­fuses to ful­fil Ap­ple’s promise of ‘it just works.’

The ex­pe­ri­ence has left me frus­trated enough to be will­ing to step into the un­known and see how the other side lives. It’s a sen­ti­ment echoed by a lot of peo­ple on­line of late, amid con­cerns that Ap­ple, as a

com­pany, has lost its way. It once catered to cre­atives – hard­core power users in film and mu­sic pro­duc­tion, desk­top pub­lish­ing, and other artis­tic en­deav­ours. They val­ued the com­pany’s hard­ware for its per­for­mance and ease of use. But the last up­date to the com­pany’s iconic Mac Pro desk­top was years ago. Ap­ple’s MacBook Pro lap­top line saw years of un­der­whelm­ing in­cre­men­tal up­dates be­fore be­ing given a se­ri­ous over­haul a few months ago.

If the feed­back from pro­fes­sional re­view­ers and ev­ery­day users like you are to be be­lieved, how­ever, the re­lease of Ap­ple’s lat­est lap­tops have done more to ag­gra­vate con­sumers than ex­cite them in the way the com­pany was once known for. Hav­ing done away with all ports save one for head­phones and a few holes for Thun­der­bolt 3/Dis­playPort 1.2 and USB-C con­nec­tions, own­ers of Ap­ple’s lat­est have been forced to in­vest in a for­est of don­gles so they can con­tinue to use their trusty pe­riph­er­als. Also, the pro­cess­ing power of these new por­ta­ble rigs is un­der­whelm­ing when com­pared to sim­i­larly priced Win­dows 10 hard­ware, which is salt rubbed into an al­ready raw wound for many Ap­ple afi­ciona­dos. It’s time to switch.

Eas­ing into Win­dows via Boot­camp

Most Macs come with Boot Camp As­sis­tant – a pro­gram de­signed to help you turn your Ap­ple com­puter into a ma­chine that can dual-boot into Win­dows. A copy of Win­dows 10 Home costs £120 (or down­loaded and used for free with limited op­tions,) so us­ing the OS with Boot Camp is a great way to see what Mi­crosoft has to of­fer be­fore you in­vest in a PC.

Un­for­tu­nately, my beef with Ap­ple in­cludes sev­eral un­re­solved hard­ware is­sues. As such, I wanted a fresh start with a new com­puter.

The Sur­face Book can be my PC and my tablet

My PC needs are de­mand­ing. I travel con­stantly, so I have to have a lap­top. As a jour­nal­ist, my world re­volves around typ­ing, web re­search, and edit­ing pho­tos or video. Some of my work takes me into chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments, so solid build qual­ity is im­por­tant. I also miss gam­ing on my PS4 con­sole, some­thing I had to give up for my no­madic life­style.

With all of this in mind, I de­cided to take the plunge with a Mi­crosoft Sur­face Book. There are good

rea­sons why it’s con­sid­ered the pin­na­cle of Win­dows lap­tops. It has a high-res­o­lu­tion 13.3in dis­play, a tough mag­ne­sium case, 512GB of stor­age (nec­es­sary for when I can’t ac­cess the cloud,) an In­tel Core i7 mo­bile pro­ces­sor, 16GB of RAM, and a dis­crete graph­ics card that’s awe­some for gam­ing. It also has a de­tach­able dis­play that I can use as a tablet. Ic­ing on the cake: I can use Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face Pen (the coun­ter­part to Ap­ple’s Pen­cil for its iPads) for noodling with Adobe Light­room.

It’s a con­fig­u­ra­tion that costs a lot of money, but it does ex­actly what I need it to do, and it re­places sev­eral dif­fer­ent de­vices – my iPad, my dearly de­parted gam­ing con­sole, and my MacBook Pro.

This might be more com­puter than you need, or maybe you want some­thing with even more pro­cess­ing power. I can’t shop for you, but as a re­cent Ap­ple es­capee, I can give you some ba­sic ad­vice on what to con­sider be­fore drop­ping any cash on new hard­ware.

De­fine your needs and wants

Find­ing a com­puter which, at the very least, can cut the same mus­tard as your cur­rent Mac is an ab­so­lute must. Let’s start with the ba­sics: What do you cur­rently use your Ap­ple com­puter for? What would like your new Win­dows com­puter to do? Adding the items from your wish-list that you can af­ford makes the tran­si­tion from one plat­form to the other more at­trac­tive.

If you’re an artist or deal with a ton of PDFs, per­haps a touch dis­play or one that will work with a Wa­com pen, is the way to go. Do you want your new com­puter to func­tion as a tablet for read­ing in bed? There’s no

short­age of touch-en­abled Win­dows lap­tops that fold in half or come apart so you can use them as a tablet. Or skip this fea­ture and stick with your iPad, but it must be said, hav­ing touch and pen ca­pa­bil­i­ties on a fullfledged PC is some­thing no­tably miss­ing from macOS that you might wel­come in Win­dows.

You’ll want to con­sider the down­side of any of the fea­tures that you want, too. Lap­tops with touch­sen­si­tive dis­plays typ­i­cally de­mand more bat­tery power than tra­di­tional mod­els, for in­stance.

The CPU is the heart of the mat­ter

As Mac users, we had lit­tle choice about which CPU our com­puter used. For years, it’s been noth­ing but

Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro

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