The iMac: the Best Computer with the Best Operating System

The iMac is by far the best computer I have used to date. I have used many, many different machines from the time I was young, and many different operating systems, and as an IT professional, I typically put a computer through its paces. But just as I was starting to lose faith in the computer industry in general, I made the jump to Mac--and it has been a very rewarding experience.

My story is part history lesson about my computer experiences, and part review of the Mac. The history lesson may be helpful to you if, like me, you are not the kind of person who just throws away your current computer investment and jumps into something new. I was not about to bail on Microsoft and PCs just because some people like Macs. I needed Macs to prove to me that they were better. But now, I am a total convert. (If you are already a Mac person, you can skip a few paragraphs to the review part.)

My last PC was a speedy Dell XPS loaded with RAM, a large hard drive, and top of the line processor. But I noticed quickly that having the latest and greatest hardware wasn't getting me the experience I was looking for. I would double-click on the Internet Explorer icon, and wait...1...2...3...for the browser to open up. I started to wonder--for the first time ever--if I actually needed to change operating systems to get a better user experience. On the one hand, this seemed like blasphemy. I had been using PCs since I was 13 years old. I relied on PCs for business. How could I even think about something other than a Microsoft operating system? (Before Windows, I spent my first decade on the PC in MS-DOS.)

I tend to make small, incremental changes rather than big changes until I am comfortable, so the obvious next choice was to dual-boot Linux Ubuntu on my PC. Ubuntu is a good way to dip your toe in the water with Linux because it has a similar interface to Windows and is nicely packaged, ready to download and install. Ubuntu ran gloriously on my PC. Clicking anything brought it up immediately. Web browsing was fast and responsive. OpenOffice ran well, and my faith in computers was restored. I no longer feared that hardware was the problem.

But Ubuntu suffered from a few glaring issues. Although this was fairly trivial, I was annoyed that my TV tuner card didn't have a drive, and was therefore not usable. This was merely an annoyance. What really started to bother me was the lack of apps available for the kinds of work I was doing. Everything felt like a challenge to set up before I started working. (I know that Linux and open source software have come a long way since I tried this experiment, and also that I was probably just intimidated about trying new software. But either way, Linux was too big a step for me at that point.) Soon I was booting up into Windows more often than Linux, and eventually I didn't even want to boot into Linux at all. But I still missed the speed and responsiveness of Linux.

Then things took an interesting turn. I got an iPod Touch (this was before the iPad had been released), and realized that writing games for this new device could be profitable. But there was a catch--if you want to write native apps for iOS, you need a Mac. There was no way around it.

The Mac had always held a special mystique for me. When the Mac was first released in 1984, I was just starting to get into computers. As a middle schooler, I looked at the Mac and saw tons of possibilities, a cool interface, and the amazing accessibility that only the Mac had. But with my father's company turning to PCs for work, the dream of my family getting a Mac was completely dashed.

For years, especially as Apple went through its hard times, I was really glad my experience had been with PCs. I had a level of comfort and experience programming and maintaining PCs that helped me get side jobs in high school, got me my first job, and also ensured that I could always get (relatively) cheap commodity hardware to do my work. At times, especially in the 1990's, I laughed that I had ever wanted an Apple.

But now confronted with the option to try something new, get some apps in the App Store, and maybe make some money--I began to remember the things that I had thought seeing the first Mac back in 1984. I decided to get the lowest-end Mac, the Mac Mini, to try it out and see what I thought. For about $650 I got a Mac, hooked it up to my own keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and started my Apple experience. Quickly I realized I needed more horsepower and portability, so I got a MacBook Pro. A Mac Pro desktop followed a few years later. Then I traded my MacBook Pro for a Retina MacBook Pro. And I traded my Mac Pro for an iMac.

Which brings us to the review. The iMac provides some of the greatest features you will find in any machine, on any operating system. The most impressive is something I think few people talk about--the Fusion drive. The Fusion drive is a hybrid flash-based (or SSD) and hard drive combination. Mine is 3TBs, for not much more than the cost of a 3TB drive. The Fusion drive gives you the performance (and silent operation) of an all flash drive, by using the flash portion for the majority of its reads and writes. But it uses the conventional hard drive for the huge and cheap data storage, transferring things back and forth between flash and hard drive as needed. The cost/performance blend of the Fusion is unbeatable. And I love the fact that my computer is silent almost all the time, with no whirring hard drive.

The latest iMacs have the latest Intel processors, fast memory (1600MHz DDR3), and powerful graphics cards. These keep everything you do running smoothly, giving you the instant responsiveness that you want from a computer. Like most users, I don't need to be editing full HD video and ripping CDs while running high frame rate games and browsing the internet. I want to do one or two things at a time, but I want them to be fast. Unlike any other platform I have ever used, the Mac gives me that satisfaction, no matter what hardware I have been running.

Mac software is outstanding. The basic applications that you will use, especially Safari, are solid, run smoothly, and never crash. (I am pretty sure if you are a PC user you don't believe that, because it sounds unbelievable. But it is true.) You almost never have to reboot--but if you do, the Mac remembers all the applications you had opened, and reopens them for you, right where you left them. (PC people--I am still not joking.)

One of my most favorite features on the Mac is the ability to have different desktops. Pressing a hotkey, you can jump between these different desktops, allowing you to have different workspaces with different applications set up in them. I will frequently have my web browser for testing on one workspace, my development environment on another, my email on another, maybe a web design tool or Photoshop on another. I have always found the lack of ability to do this with PCs to be very frustrating--you instead need to have different monitors, and of course only one is set up comfortably behind the keyboard in front of you. If you are a PC user, you should give this one feature a try, and you will wonder why you have been missing this all these years.

There is one thing that I absolutely hate about the Mac, and that is the lack of a dedicated PC-style Home and End key. The Home and End key on the Mac take you to the top and bottom of a document. On the PC, they take you to the beginning and end of a line of text. Since I still do my day job on a PC, I am pretty sure I am not breaking this 30-year-old habit any time soon. I still type Home and get frustrated when the document scrolls to the top. I guess I need to invest in one of those key mappers that you can define what the keyboard keys do....

One last thought if you are on the fence. A lot of people look at the price tag on a Mac and reconsider. This is totally reasonable--Macs are often more expensive than a similarly equipped PC. But there are three things that really make up for the cost difference for me. The first is the lack of headaches. PCs will require maintenance, anti-virus, upgrades, networking issues, etc that you will never have on your Mac. As a computer person, one of the things I found most frustrating at first about the Mac was that it didn't give me any chances to get under the hood and try to fix anything. The second benefit you get from a Mac is resale value. Every machine I have sold I have sold years later for 50% or more of the purchase price. Macs hold there value much more so than PCs--take a look on eBay and you will see the high price for several year old hardware. Finally, the third benefit you get from the Mac is that you don't need outrageous hardware to get outstanding performance. For most people, the Mac Mini can give you what you want. I personally recommend the iMac if you have a little more to spend because your experience will be even better. But the point is, you get a much better experience with lesser hardware running OS X than you will running Windows.

Hopefully this long explanation of my journey through operating systems and computer hardware is helpful to you. If, like me, you are reticent to try the Mac because you have spent your entire life on PCs and/or because your day job is on a PC, I can tell you the transition is not only easier than you think, you will wonder after you have made it why you waited so long. With more and more of our lives spent online and on the computer for a variety of things, you owe it to yourself to try the Mac.

 Last updated on April 4, 2014

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Guestbook 40 comments

SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 9 months ago from Arkansas USA Level 7 Commenter

Well, you may have convinced me. While I don't have major problems on the laptop that I use, I definitely drool over the idea of instant response and no crashing. I appreciate the background you provided, as well as the iMac review. More and more, I think my next computer probably will be a Mac.

john-tabernik profile image

john-tabernik 9 months ago Hub Author

@SusanDeppner: You would not regret it!!!

favored profile image

favored 9 months ago from USA Level 7 Commenter

This one sounds great, but what about a laptop? Any suggestions?

nikahexplorer profile image

nikahexplorer 9 months ago

Yes obviously iMac is just awesome

Vickie Moses profile image

Vickie Moses 9 months ago

Congratulations for lens of the day! Your lens is very Informative. It's very impressive that Mac offers more than one desktop. It's nice to know that you will not get any or hardly no crashes while using the Mac.

Tim Bader profile image

Tim Bader 9 months ago from Surrey, UK Level 2 Commenter

Great review!

Your story of moving from a slow PC to a faster Mac sounds just like mine - I too have worked with PCs forever (it seems), although I have only just made the move to an iMac.

I'm very, very happy with it, although my family are still coming to terms with some of the functions.

However, I will say that I have not once experienced a crash and only once or twice have waited for a program to open (but then, I don't have a fusion drive - jealous!)

I don't know if this helps, but I found an alternative to the Home and End keys: Command + left arrow or Command + right arrow respectively, to go the beginning or end of a line of text.

Karen317 profile image

Karen317 9 months ago

any difference in Win7 and Win8?

john-tabernik profile image

john-tabernik 9 months ago Hub Author

@favored: The MacBook Pro is excellent if you need more power, and the MacBook Air is great if you can get by with less. They both have all Flash based storage which make them fast and extend battery life.

john-tabernik profile image

john-tabernik 9 months ago Hub Author

@Tim Bader: Thanks for mentioning the command key combinations for home and end--I probably should have said there is a way to do it. But for me, I think the home and end key habit is too strong, and I always forget....

john-tabernik profile image

john-tabernik 9 months ago Hub Author

@Karen317: I tried Win8 a little and was not a fan of the interface which I did not find intuitive. But Microsoft has made great strides with stability and Win7 is pretty solid. But apps still die too often for my taste....

bobnolley lm profile image

bobnolley lm 9 months ago

A great review! Congrats on your LOTD! I am now rolling the funds together to make the jump back over the fence...I bought the first MAC on opening day...128K for $2499...what a long strange trip its been.

TimType 9 months ago

@john-tabernik: The full-size âApple Keyboard with Numeric Keypadâ has Home & End Keys (under F14), Scroll one Screen Up & Down (Under F15) and Function shift & Delete forward (under F13)

Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye Rutledge 9 months ago from Concord VA Level 3 Commenter

My son is a "Mac Person" and he says the same as you do. He won't have anything else. He has a newer iMac, but also still uses a Mac he bought in 2002. In the long run, Macs are the best choice money wise. Great review! Congratulations on LotD!

TimType 9 months ago

You are impressed by the fusion drive but the next big thing thatâs already part of new macs are the thunderbolt interface - the fastest connection you can make to external hard drives ... and it does make a difference ...

SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 9 months ago from Arkansas USA Level 7 Commenter

Back to congratulate you on your Lens of the Day!

delia-delia profile image

delia-delia 9 months ago Level 3 Commenter

Congratulation on LOTD! Great information that I can use...thanks for sharing!

SteveKaye 9 months ago

I've been buying Apple computers since 1982.Their reliable ease of use has saved me huge amounts of time and money. Right now I use a 27-in iMac and a 15-in MacBook Pro.

Congratulations on receiving the LOTD.

Dressage Husband profile image

Dressage Husband 9 months ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada Level 5 Commenter

Hmm have any of you tried an Asus high end laptop with flash drive similar to the iMac? instant booting and response, great re-coverability in the event of a crash and half the price of a Mac equivalent.

There are more applications for the PC and more importantly they are serviceable no matter where you live. Mac do not have outlets and service agents in a lot of the remote communities yet.

Despite the above your article did pique my interest again, however I live in a community that has extremely poor Mac support. Well done on the LOTD it was a very well written lens.

jc stone profile image

jc stone 9 months ago

Nice page thanks for the info!

tmadeira lm profile image

tmadeira lm 9 months ago

I've flirted many times with trying Ubuntu to see if I can squeeze some extra life out of my PCs, but ultimately decided not to because of the limited compatible apps you described. Also, I can't believe I never realized the Home key takes you to the front of a line of text! Thanks for sharing!

esmonaco profile image

esmonaco 9 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 6 Commenter

Very useful information for me, as I will be in the market soon to upgrade, thanks for a great review and Congratulations on LOTD!!

Goodworks profile image

Goodworks 9 months ago

I am happy with my PC and not considering a change, but if I were, this information is top notch and would certainly sway me.

You did a superlative job of reporting here and congratulations on having the LOTD!

PAINTDRIPS profile image

PAINTDRIPS 9 months ago from Fresno CA Level 4 Commenter

A few years ago I made the leap from PC to iMac and I am soooo happy with my Mac. I did this because as an artist, so many of the magazines and publishers were using Mac and asked for Mac compatible files that I thought there must be something to it. I'm so glad I made the switch. Now my husband wants one. Often he will use my Mac because his PC simply won't give him the performance he wants. Your lens was well thought out and informative. Congrats on LOTD.

anonymous 9 months ago

Very good lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!

RichardMensies profile image

RichardMensies 9 months ago

A very interesting Lens. I hadn't heard about the "fusion-drive" before and it sounds great. But there is a lot of software for the PC -- including some that is free and works well -- to emulate the multiple desktop function of the Mac.

tbonestakes profile image

tbonestakes 9 months ago

Love the iMac, I'm on my second. The one I had previously lasted seven years, I'm told that's good length for any desk top. Will always make iMac my primary desktop solution, great lens!

oscar1208 lm profile image

oscar1208 lm 9 months ago

Great lens! I am in the group of people who have always used PC's. However, your lens has highlighted some issues for me to consider regarding whether or not to switch to a Mac. My son and his family have several Macs and they love them. Thank you for sharing this information.

kental93 9 months ago

I'm not a huge fan of Macs but they are getting better and better. If the airbook (that's the lightweight one, right?) was touch-screen, I would have considered getting it instead of the Lenovo that I got instead. Either way, good overview but I'm not sold.

Heidi Vincent profile image

Heidi Vincent 9 months ago from GRENADA Level 6 Commenter

Great review! You have me thinking iMac for my next purchase :)

jrochop 9 months ago

great lens! being new in the online industry your lens has given me helpful information

pattersonsteve3 9 months ago

nice man

ClearInsightProds profile image

ClearInsightProds 9 months ago

MacBook Pro's are the best. Especially if you like to move between multiple programmes. Plus for video editing and design work you have the faith that they will not crash.

MJ Martin profile image

MJ Martin 9 months ago from Washington State Level 3 Commenter

My first computer was a "put together" old Apple II, I loved how I could "create" my own cards, newsletters, write colorful fancy fonts and words and....This was before the internet. I absolutely craved and devoured every thing I could read, and learn about the first imac coming with the internet in 1999. I now have a MacBook, that has lasted since 2008 and a mac mini we got in 2010. Yep, I am one of those that macs feed emotionally, and proud of it.

MJ Martin profile image

MJ Martin 9 months ago from Washington State Level 3 Commenter

Oh and super congrats on LOTD. I loved how you explained the operating systems and all that background stuff, I haven't a clue, so your review really helped me a lot. Awesome!

Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie Hagley 9 months ago from New Zealand Level 7 Commenter

I have had a iMac for nearly two years and I go 100% with all you said. I love my Mac and wouldn't swap it for any thing. No way would I ever have a Microsoft Windows computer.

graysquidooer profile image

graysquidooer 9 months ago

I've heard about Mac being better in lots of ways, but I'm still using a P.C due to the higher cost

But after reading you review I might change my mind

tjgurley95 9 months ago

Mac seems like the choice for me!

JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

JoanieMRuppel54 9 months ago from Keller, Texas Level 2 Commenter

Mac for life!

r40388 9 months ago

You can run some windows programs on linux via wine which is free. or crossover which is not.Hard for some to justify the cost of a mac. yes, they should cost a bit more than a pc. But 30-40%? For the record I am using a g4 imac to post this. It was payment for work performed.

anonymous 9 months ago

Going on my wish list.

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