Mac vs. PC:  a take for older generations

What you'll get from this comparison

A unique take on this debate for older generations

Touchscreen?  Matte screen?  Glossy screen?  2-in-1?

Plus a declared winner with some other considerations

And what would have changed our minds

01   Price

02   Accessibility

03   Watching media

04   Games and entertainment

05   Ecosystem

Yes, we're still talking about this age-old debate, but it's still one of the most relevant topics in technology today.  And while we do declare a winner at the end of this comparison, the answer for what is best for you is almost always: it depends.

We put a different slant on this overdone debate by comparing these two tech nemeses to what older adults might consider about most:  price; accessibility; watching media; games/entertainment; ecosystem.

Let's get started.

01   Price

There's really no debate here.  An entry-level Macbook Air costs $1,000 whereas it's PC counterpart can be as low as $300 for comparable specs.  And PC doesn't just win here in raw price, but it also wins in price per performance, and top-end performance because of the plethora of options.  There's are many reasons other than cost why most businesses that do serious computer work use PCs.

That's not to say that it's not worth shelling out a $1,000 to join the Mac club.  It's just that even hardcore Apple fans recognize that PC has really stepped up its game in the last few years, offering several thin and light ultrabook laptops that compete with Mac design and build quality.

Winner:  PC

02   Accessibility

If accessibility is important to you, both can make your life easier but in completely different ways.

PC gets huge points for offering affordable laptops with touchscreens and several 2-in-1 configurations that allow people to use their device just as easily lying in bed as they can sitting at a desk.  As of now, Apple doesn't even offer a laptop with a touchscreen or one that converts into a tablet. 

But there are two other ways it's easier to get around on a Mac.  First, Apple absolutely nailed their oversized touchpad, which is really important unless you use a mouse all of the time.  For whatever reason, PCs tend to have smaller, less intuitive trackpads.  And if you plan to use Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana to make up the gap, look elsewhere because it's abysmal compared to Apple's Siri who is much more likely to actually understand what you're asking.

But those gains are lost by Apple's lack of matte display options.  While they look great in a dark room, glossy screens reflect even the smallest amount of light.  As people age, something called a light veil covers the retina.  This increases your sensitivity to glare by tenfold.  That's why you don't see many glossy surfaces in retirement communities, yet they're all over Apple's spaceship-like office where employees frequently hurt themselves by walking into glass walls.

 

Winner:  PC

03   Watching media

Some might think PCs get an edge for offering 4k displays, but we view that as a negative.  Laptop screens are just too small to notice 4k resolution, and pushing all those extra pixels without being tethered to the wall absolutely destroys your battery life.  Until the technology changes, the only thing good about 4k on PC laptops is the marketing.

The most noticeable difference is sound.  Macs just sound better; plain and simple.  There are some PCs that get close, but its really quite remarkable how Apple manages to produce such deep, punchy audio from such a compact space.  The sound is so good that it could even be your primary TV if you live in a small apartment.  But if you travel a lot, chances are you use headphones anyway.  And you'll appreciate the extra option of resting a convertible PC laptop upside down on your tray table to make more room for other things.

But because most older adults are probably not travelling on airplanes every week during Covid-19, we're choosing Mac on this for its amazing audio.

Winner:  Mac.

04   Games and entertainment

This one is not even a competition.  The gaming community is almost exclusively PC, and you just flat out can't play several popular games on a Mac—they don't have enough graphics power, and even if you get them to run on a Mac they aren't optimized for it.  PGA Golf is one example of a title popular with older adults where you're just going to have a better, more stable experience playing those games on a PC.

And while most older adults aren't going to be playing demanding AAA titles, they might want an option to do more than just play Candy Crush or Casino Slots, and more times than not that will be afforded to them through a PC.  We once helped a retired pilot get setup with a home PC flight simulator program, and they almost jumped out of their chair they thought it was so cool.  Try doing that on a Mac.

Winner:  PC

05   Ecosystem

This is a huge advantage for Apple, and one that Windows has been struggling with for years.  The Apple ecosystem is hands down the most seamless, simplest experience between devices.  Just this one benefit alone can makeup for all the other limiting features of a Mac.  If you own any combination of a Mac, iPhone, Airpods, iPad, Apple TV or Apple Watch, you know what we're talking about.

It's when the thing you were doing on one device magically appears in the exact same spot on another device.  There are a tonne of people who want to leave Apple so badly for so many reasons, but its nearly impossible to divorce the Apple ecosystem.  Apple knows this:  "You mean I won't have iMessage anymore?  I'll have to send green SMS text messages?  And where did FaceTime go?  What do you mean I'll have to use Skype or Google Meet?  And what about all my Apple Health data from my Apple Watch?  Or the Apple Watch itself that is now useless?  Or all of my apps from the App Store?  You mean, I'm going to have to use Google Play and find all my apps again?".  Those can be real problems.

Most people are not going to want to go through what it takes to divorce Apple.  For seniors specifically, the beauty in the Apple ecosystem is that you don't have to do anything at all to get everything to work together.  It just happens on its own.  To even get close to mimicking something similar without Apple, it's possible but it requires users to piece together different pieces of Microsoft, Amazon and Google, which adds a lot of complexity for a subpar experience.

 

Winner:  Mac

Kia

Toyota

BMW

Tesla

And the winner is...

PC

So here's the deal.  Many of us at HelpHerd own both—partly because we're enthusiasts, and partly because we have to in order to help all of you.  But our mission is to empower every person with the ability for technology to transform their lives.  And for the reasons mentioned above, more people are going to be using more PCs more of the time in more places than Macs.  Period.

 

The Apple ecoystem is very convicing, and for many people this seals the deal.  But until everybody subscribes to Apple's utopian view of the entire world using Apple exclusively, their prices just leave out too much of the market.

Disclaimers:

  • Because this comes down to personal preference, we didn't talk much about whether Windows or MacOS were easier to use, aside from the accessibility and ecosystem considerations.

  • PC used to have a big edge on Apple with upgradability, but most modern PC laptops can't be upgraded either—everything is sautered onto the motherboard.

  • We also didn't cover things like durability, battery life or repair costs because there is too much variability unless we're comparing specific models.

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