PC Favour

14 Nov, 2005 | ComputersTdp

I've had my Mac Mini for a while now and have been using it a lot, but I've noticed recently that I am not totally enamoured with it. Bizarrely, I have come to appreciate my PC. It comes down to a split really. Some things the Mac does better, some things my PC does best.

Now, I'm using my laptop mainly, not my main machine (it's so noisy I try not to turn it on, ever), but even that seems to leave the Mac for dead. Neither of them are powerhouse machines, but my PC runs away in the processing stakes. It's handles taskes easier, feels sharper, responds quicker.

More and more at the moment I'm finding that I'm preferring to my laptop. My HTML development is done almost solely there, as are my graphics, my FTP'ing and even text editing. I've been trying to figure out why.

I guess reason number one would be the strange lock-ups that keep occuring on the Mac, one minute I'll be happily surfing away when I try to change tabs or switch apps and I get the equivalent of the egg timer, and not just for a second or two, several seconds, sometimes up to half a minute, for no reason. Typing text too, one minute it'll be fine, then I'm able to type a whole sentence and have to wait for it to appear on screen.

The mouse control also feels a little sluggish and imprecise.

Some of the apps just aren't right. The GIMP is sluggish and unweildy, Pages, despite looking nice, is a pain to use (doing something simple like changing fonts involves delving under menus, opening dialog boxes and selecting options) and Finder, the equivalent of Windows Explorer, is useless. It doesn't remember when you resize it for a start, I like my file finding to be full screen, but oh no, not with Finder, because it resets itself to tiny every time. You can't group folders above files either, they're just lumped in alphabetical order with everything else, which seems a total waste, the way Windows does it is much easier.

Accessing programs that you don't have in the dock (your taskbar) is a pain too, no easy start menu system, which means visiting the Finder window, selecting the applications folder then scrolling up and down (unless you used it recently, then it's in the used items menu).

Having multiple windows or multiple versions of the same program open is annoying too. To switch apps you click the icon in the dock, but that just opens the last used window/instance, you need to right-click then select the correct instance to switch to one, something I don't like on Windows so I switch off the grouping feature, no option on OS X though.

Now, I have to admit that I don't have a high-end Mac, and some of these issues may be solved with more power, but come on, freezes whilst typing in text, it's hardly CPU intensive.

And what is it with the End and Home keys? Sort that out dammit.

So, is there anything I do like about the Mac? Well, the range of apps available is excellent and even the stuff that's been put together by some guy in his bedroom tends to not only look and work better than the Windows equivalent, it's more user friendly too. Recently I was playing about with software for my Topfield PVR. The stuff supplied by the manufacturer to download files (Windows only) is pitiful compared to the two offerings for the Mac, both of which look and work better.

I like a lot of the free Apple software too. iPhoto, iCal and the Address Book are all excellent.

Having said that WS_FTP kills Transmit, HTML-Kit is much nicer to use than any of the Mac equivalents I could find and Paint Shop Pro is still nicer to use for graphics than anything else.

I like the way Finder has top-level shortcuts to folders for movie, music, applications and pictures as well as my documents. It makes organising files simple (on the top level at least, it's a pain below that).

Perhaps the best thing of them all is the fact that everything just works, from simple installs to seemless networking and sharing, everything is so easy, normally just a click or two.

I might switch back to using my laptop as my main machine and use the Mac as a file server, maybe that's what the Mini's best designed for.