Mac or PC? The new MacBook Air is a sleek and shiny temptress, but when you’re running a business, you need to think about more than your computer’s coolness quotient. You want a machine that works for you and your small business. Before you purchase a new system, ask yourself the following questions:
How much am I willing to pay? There’s no question that Macs are more expensive than PCs: You might pay $800 for a basic PC, whereas many Macs run upwards of $2,000. On the surface, it seems like a straightforward choice. However, take time to consider the additional products you may need to purchase for the PC to make it work for you, such as antivirus and photo-editing software — tools that come standard on a Mac. Add the extra cost to the PC’s price tag when comparison shopping to make sure you get the best deal.
What software will my employees and I use? If you run a professional business like an accounting or law firm, you’ll typically use applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so a computer that runs on the Windows platform might be a more natural fit. If your business is more graphics-focused — graphic design or web development, for instance — multimedia tools are a priority, and a Mac may be the more appropriate choice. Keep in mind that many software tools, particularly business-focused ones, are built only for the Windows platform. It’s not a total deal-breaker if you’re eying a Mac: You can run a Windows emulator on your Mac when you need to use PC software. However, shifting back and forth between platforms often can be awkward.
Will I need ongoing technical support? If your company is big enough to have an on-site IT consultant, you’re probably not too worried about your computer’s support options. But if you’d need to hire a consultant every time you have a problem, that can get pricey fast. If you don’t have someone around to help out with tech problems at a pinch, consider buying a Mac: Apple offers free in-store “Genius Bar” technical support anytime you’re dealing with a computer glitch, though you may need to pay for the actual repairs if your AppleCare policy has expired.
Do I want a laptop computer or a desktop? If you’re buying a desktop computer, size probably isn’t a major concern, but when it comes to laptops, you’ll probably want the sleekest, slimmest machine you can find with the processing power you need. The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are both renowned for their lightweight size and extended battery life. PC laptops, though often less expensive, often can’t compete on features: Mac laptops swept all of the top rankings in a recent Consumer Reports laptop review.
How does the system feel to me? Before making a final decision based on pros and cons, stop by a computer store and try out a few models. See how intuitive they feel and if you like the way they run. While facts are important, feelings are, too: You’ll do your best work on a computer that you feel comfortable using.