I’ll be the first to admit that Macs are fine computers. They offer unparalleled beauty. They run a generally outstanding operating system. And they provide a viable alternative to PCs. All in all, they’re impressive.
I currently use two Macs on a daily basis — a 24-inch aluminum iMac and a 13-inch white MacBook. The iMac is running Mac OS X 10.5. The MacBook is running Mac OS X 10.4.
And they’re both testing my patience.
Let me walk you through my experience with Macs over the past year to 18 months.
During that span, my MacBook’s battery has died not once, not twice, but three times. I have gone back to the Genius Bar on multiple occasions asking for a solution and the best I was able to get from the company was a simple, “looks like your battery is dead.” After explaining to them that it’s a regular occurrence, the “geniuses” explained to me that it could be a defect with the Mac, but since I don’t have an AppleCare account (a dire mistake on my part), it might be too costly to fix.
OK, I’ll buy that excuse, since my MacBook is a little old. But what is the possible excuse for my iMac?
Over the past few months, my iMac’s hard drive has failed, its screen has lost its vividness (through no fault of my own), and it shuts down whenever it feels like it. I have been to the Genius Bar on more than one occasion trying to figure out what’s wrong and each time, I’m dealt the same excuse: Without AppleCare, there’s not much they can do.
And so, as I sit here, writing this on my iMac, hoping it won’t turn off before I save, I’m starting to consider a switch back to Windows. Yes, I know the common complaints — Windows is overrun with security issues, it doesn’t have as nice of an experience, and it can’t compare to Mac OS X — but at the same time, I just don’t know if I can trust that Macs will be reliable.
But I’m starting to think I’m alone.
According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, Apple finished at, or near, the top in computer reliability. According to the report, the new MacBook rated first in the 13-inch-display category. The MacBook Pro swept the larger-sized screen categories, easily besting the Toshiba Satellite. The Mac mini placed second to the HP Pavilion Slimline. The iMac finished just behind the DellXPS One. Overall, Apple provided the greatest reliability of any company in the report.
So what gives? Is it something I did? Or is it possible that I bought two Macs that were defective from the start?
Alas, it’s anybody’s guess. But whenever I consider the issues with my Macs, I’m reminded of something I was told when I first got into this business that has yet to be proven incorrect — “when it comes to Apple, wait until the second generation to buy its products.”
Remember that iMac and MacBook I was telling you about? Yeah, they were first-generation versions of their respective designs.
Live and learn. Oh, and buy AppleCare.
Don Reisinger is a technology columnist whose work has included popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.