Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Laptop platform shootout: Windows 7 versus Apple OS X versus Ubuntu

We have all 3 major* computer OS systems in use on a weekly basis in our house. These include 6 years old Dell and Acer laptops, and a 3 month old MacBook Pro. I often consider consolidating down to just one laptop but realize there isn't much benefit in doing so since the older laptops are still of use and we couldn't sell them for much money. I figure it's better to continue using them and enjoy the differences between the different systems.

Here's a quick comparison and comments on the 3 types of laptop combos we use. One thing to note is with more online cross-platform apps such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Facebook, and other web-based sites, the actual laptop and OS is becoming less important. For example, at times we use all 3 of our laptops for banking and budget planning.

Dell Latitude with Ubuntu.
Pros: Cheap. Cons: Learning curve and support.
In case you haven't heard, Ubuntu is a free Linux-based OS that generally is used by tech-geeky folks. Ubuntu runs well on older laptops so this is a great option for those in need of a cheap laptop option. Newer Ubuntu versions are more polished than older versions and I think most folks would enjoy using them, once they get comfortable with the UI. However, there can be bugs with older computers. I recently updated our laptop to the latest version 11.10 from 10.04 and found there are some video and graphics issues that have been minor annoyances to me, but for others may be a deal breaker. On the other hand the previous version of Ubuntu worked flawlessly on my Dell.

Acer with Windows 7.

Pros: Most common. Cons: Target of most Virus and Malware.
Since most computers run Microsoft OS this is a no brainer; most homes have a Windows computer. This laptop makes up our home office computer and is mainly used for when we have to work from home.

Apple MacBook Pro.
Pros: Well designed. Cons: More expensive.

If I could only have one laptop this would be it. But with a cost of over $1000 I guess it is to be the expected chosen one. I use this laptop mainly for videos, photos and graphics/web design. It did replace a 6 year old MacBook. For those that use Apple laptops, I think most would agree that the total package of the laptop and the OS is so well designed that we would give the gold to Apple in the laptop Olympics. If you are looking to purchase a Mac, do what I always do and purchase one from Apple's Refurbished section. Great way to save $$.

*According to NetMarketShare the breakdown of OS is as follows: Microsoft Windows = 92.2% || Apple OS X = 6.3% || Linux = 1.4%

How many computers does your household have? Do you budget a new one every few years or just use them until they become dinosaurs? -- (I have found that 6 years ago, a 6 year old computer would be practically worthless but today a 6 year old computer is still very useful.)

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