I'm coming out of retirement just to help out this guy. When it comes to a "switcher", I heed the clarion call!
My background is that I'm a composer for TV, have owned Macs since 1995, have used PCs regularly (including being my sister's PC techie) but have never owned a PC. I also have read TONS of various information about Macs and PCs over the years. I'm kind of infamous for that here at ehMac.
For starters, if you're getting into animation, that means you're getting into the film and television industry. Macs are BIG in the industry as a whole -- although, in high-end animation, the x86 platform running UNIX or Linux is fairly prevalent. With the advent of the 64 bit G5 processor, however, Macs are increasing their presence in your particular field. May has expanded their products to the Mac, as have Pixar, Luxology and others. It should only continue to increase. So, even if you don't end up buying one, getting to know more about them and being accepting of them will make your job easier.
Secondly, most of the components used in Macs are industry standard: PCI, AGP, Ethernet, Firewire, USB, IDE, SATA, SCSI, SDR and DDR RAM (making sure compatibility is right, like any computer), etc. etc. The catch is whether or not a component you're looking to use has Mac OS compatible drivers or not. In this regard, there are generally MORE drivers for graphics cards available for the PC than Mac, and more powerful GPUs for the PC than the Mac. This may or may not be relevant from person to person.
Also, the Powermac towers -- as my signature here at ehMac attests -- are very
upgradeable. Among the components I upgraded, I got the 8X DVDRW, the 120GB hard drive and the dual NEC panels at PC stores. And, I also added 2.1GHz to my processing power via a dual G4 upgrade. The G5 Powermacs are new to the platform, so there will be a limited array of products for upgrading, like it processor (I suppose the same could be said of the x86 64 bit platform, too). There are newer ATI GPUs and many drive options (both optical and hard) available, however.
The real area of joy is the OS. Mac OS X is an awesome system! Apple did what everybody really would have wanted to do: take UNIX (a mature, powerful yet complex industrial-strength OS) and make it user friendly. Not only has Apple endowed UNIX with their ease of use and clean elegant design, but they have pulled it off to the point that -- for the most part and in most cases -- you wouldn't even now you were running a UNIX if you didn't want to know... and yet, the OS X user benefits from UNIX's capabilities. myself, I have used Mac OS X for three years, have installed TONS of software, have hacked the appearance and behavior of my Mac using GUI-based shareware, have used OS X for my work (of course), and yet I don't know ANY UNIX language! The ONLY time I have had to get into UNIX is when I wanted to run the disk diagnostic on my boot disk. OS X -- when fully loaded -- cannot repair the booted System disk. One can either boot off another device such as an OS installer CD, or boot into UNIX and run the diagnostic from the command line. And, the command to run the utility is even presented to you at bootup in UNIX. So you don't even have to memorize THAT.
Mac OS X is also stable and can run forever. As I said, I've been using it for three years -- ON THE SAME ORIGINAL OS INSTALL! It's updated to the current rev and I've never had to reinstall it. There is no Registry to get bloated or corrupted, it is easy to install or delete programs from your drive (just trash them). the UI is clean and Apple is very inventive. Check out OS X's superior window/app switching technology, "Expose"
, for just one (also, see the URLs in this post
OS X rocks! I see it as the Holy Grail of OSes.
As for application support, there are over 18,000 titles available for the Mac, with solutions available in a surprisingly wide range of uses. To me, then argument that there's more software on the x86 side is moot. The SMART thing to do is, if one is considering a switch to the Mac platform, research YOUR NEEDS thoroughly. Who cares if there are fifty word processors for the PC and maybe 15 for the Mac, when one of those 15 are right for you? Also, the REALITY of the PC world is that THE MASSES who use a PC usually just start using the bundled software -- and that would be probably some MS product like Works or Office and the wretched Internet Explorer -- and leave it at that. That's the reality of "there's more software for PCs". The result of this is that Office compatibility is a must-have in this day and age, and there are several options for this on the Mac -- EXCEPT for MS Access, although the cross-platform database program, Filemaker Pro, can handle Access files. Even OS X's equivalent to Windows' "Notepad" can read and write Word documents, to and from PCs as well.
Apple's own software titles are usually fantastic. nothing on the PC platform works as well as or is quite like their 'iLife" media suite. The way this suite of apps shares music, photos and video between them is so easy, fast and cool! Also, because OS X is an open-source UNIX at its heart, Apple can partake of the open-source technologies out there -- whereas Microsoft can't or rather WON'T. As a result, Apple's own web browser, called Safari, uses KDE's 'KHTML render engine which runs their own "Konquerer" web browser. So, Apple has many choices both internally and externally for new technologies.
And for technical decisions made by Apple in OS Xs design, OS X is more secure than Windows. As there are WAY MORE Windows systems out there than Macs, the virus writers have little interest in coding for the Mac, too. So, Mac users fly under their radar, whereas Windows users live CONSTANTLY with a bulls-eye on their backs. It sucks!
What also sucks about Windows is that Microsoft appears to be impotent in their OS development. XP, while far more stable than Win9x, is still a pain. It's riddled with security issues. Also, Microsoft's future plans for Windows has been revised, reduced and pushed off further and further down the line. And yet, aspects such as Longhorn's GPU utilizing "Glass"
transparency and 3D, as well as Longhorn's WinFS tagged database-like file system either already exist on OS X (like Quartz Extreme graphics
) or will be YEARS before Microsoft (like next year's tag-based filesystem for OS X, called "Spotlight"
. Microsoft didn't even add TABBED BROWSING to Internet Explorer is SP2! Only pop-up blocking! I'd say that's pretty lame.
Also, OS X plays nice with Windows networks.
All in all, the Mac platform is much more exciting and fun to use.
Now, what stinks about the Mac platform? Here are a few:
The additional "special PC content" of just about every DVD I have played on my Mac is Windows-only.
Microsoft has not extended SECURE Windows media compatibility to the Mac. As a result, the ONLY way to legally purchase Mac compatible secure media is at the iTunes online store -- and it aint available in Canada just yet.
Some AVI filetypes can't be played properly on Mac OS.
Software that is destined for Mac compatibility usually comes out later. This isn't a huge issue unless you're a hardcore gamer, and those folks should stay on the PC (although I have enjoyed many recent killer titles on my Mac, as have others).
Although there is a lot of software for the Mac, you don't see much of it at your typical computer store. Online is where it's at.
Probably one of the biggest drags of using a Mac is telling PC users who don't know about the Mac that you use a Mac!
. The level of ignorance out there is staggering.
There's probably more that isn't great about the platform, but those are the main ones as I see it. Although the disparity is nowhere near as bad as some PC guys say, Macs can be more expensive than PCs -- and in some equal configurations the prices are almost the same. Where the Mac platform has troubles here is that you can build your own PC but not a Mac. To the vast majority of PC users, however, this is irrelevant. Dell's profit reports can attest to this. And it's the same with Apple; Like Dell, HP, Gateway and the rest, they're not selling to the "tweakers".
Also, as you pointed out, there will be a learning curve, as there would be for anybody. Some things I would say to keep in mind are: think "drag-and-drop", think "do the obvious, literal thing I want to do with a file" (for example, you can drag text from one window to another, even across apps and even across Expose'd windows. You can drag an MP3 listed in iTunes to the Desktop or a folder and it'll be copied there. You can drag a file for attachment to an email to your email's app icon in the Dock and it will be attached to an email for you. Also, if you go OS X, learn about the Dock, it is extremely configurable, offering way more flexibility than Windows' Start Menu and Task Bar.
Here are some links you might find of interest:
A site comparing Win XP and OS X IN GREAT DEPTH. Regardless of any subjective judgments offered here, this site can also be used as an awesome orientation for people learning about EITHER OS by comparing it to the one they know. A real goldmine!
Apple's own hardware and software guide, listing over 18,000 Apple and 3rd party applications and thousands of peripherals. Someone go through that software database and tell me what you CAN'T do with a Mac?
Mac OS X's device compatibility lists. LOTS there!
Detailed system price and package comparisons between Apple and Dell.
A partial yet building list of Mac dealers in Ontario.
I hope this all helps! [img]smile.gif[/img]
PS: Just to be clear, the "X" in "Mac OS X" represents the roman numeral 10; not
the letter X, as in 'XP".
PSS: if you were using OS X, you wouldn't have to worry about your spelling, because Mac OS X has system-wide spell checking [img]smile.gif[/img] I use it all the time for both my two-finger'd typos and for my several chronically misspelled werds -- er... "words"