Confessions of a true Mac addict

Welp, Apple's done it again. I'm not sure how, but they've got me wanting to get another one of their computers. In spite of the fact that I'm now 4 of 6 in the Macs enjoyed to Macs purchased ratio, and in spite of the fact that I could get a racin' AMD system for about $400, I think I'm nearly ready to plunk down a few grand for a new PowerMac.

And I don't think times could be any less assuring in the Mac world. Take their new Gigahertz Powerbook. A cool system, certainly, with a slot-loading DVD burner in a laptop. Slick looking, for sure. But then so is a Fiero with a fake Lamborghini body. What impresses me even less than the concentration on slick looks is the slick advertising Apple's pulling recently.

Here are two examples of Apple's less than straightforward adverts:
And it all adds up to wicked-fast performance. In the PC world, you’d be lucky to get this kind of performance in a desktop system. That’s because speed expressed as megahertz alone can be misleading — it’s not an accurate yardstick of overall system performance. Fact is, the PowerBook G4 powers past Pentium 4-based notebooks by up to 44 percent in Adobe Photoshop testing.

Well of course there's a catch to that statement. Here's the footnote:
Test performed on 1GHz system with Adobe Photoshop 7 (November 2002).

So let's translate this one back into English.
"The 1GHz, top of the line, $2800 PowerBook G4 can outperform a 1 GHz Pentium 4 notebook in one application of our choosing, and even then only in certain benchmarks. Nor are we going to tell you if the P4 notebook was plugged in -- it might have been using its 'power-save' mode." That's not so good after all, is it?

Add to that that, just for reference, you can't even find a 1 GHz P4 notebook over at Dell right now (about $1000 for a 1.9 GHz P4 Mobile, fwiw) and we see that Apple's statement, which makes the new G4 Powerbook sound awful fast, really is less than straightforward. Heck, it's downright misleading. There's something "wicked" going on here, and it ain't how fast the G4 is running. The DVD drive does look cool, though.

Move on to the PowerMac. This "benchmark" image is probably my all-time favorite. What does it tell us? The new dual 1.25 GHz G4 PowerMac has 18.3 gigaflops of power versus the old PowerMac's 3.7. Wow! Now that is POWER TO BURN, ain't it?

Closer inspection shows that the old PowerMac was a 500 MHz G4 (why not use an old 604e PowerMac while you're at it?). So we have two 1.25 GHz processors, which means 2.5 GHz "total", which is "equal" to five 500 MHz processors, right? Hrm, 3.7 times 5 is equal to 18.5, which is nearly 18.3. So if we were able to harness every single bit of theorhetical power from the old PowerMac and every single bit of power on the new one, the new one would be five times as fast. Wow! An amazing (or is that wicked?) benchmark!!!

Not only is this math (I'm sorry, I mean "measure of 'peak performance'") no more than a simple truism, it's not even a real world measurement. Many applications don't take advantage of the second processor, meaning that you've lost half of your "peak performance" right there. Even apps that do don't magically become twice as fast as they would be with just one processor. I'm going to wimp out of digging up benchmarks again, but here's one example that I posted to the mac advocacy group. As I start to figure out in the post, even Apple's own iApps don't do as well with multiple processors as you'd like.

So why do I want a PowerMac? A few reasons, I suppose. I've always enjoyed Macs and the "small pond" Mac community. It's easy to get your hands around what's going on, I think. I've also enjoyed the move to OS X, but my 500 MHz G3, 8 meg video chip iBook just can't keep up as well as I'd like. I'm so close to having a great OS; it just needs to run more quickly, just like I hear it does (with Quartz Extreme) on the new PowerMacs. And, admittedly, I enjoy not using Windows, and the Mac is a much nicer alternative than the less user-oriented Linux. There's a reason Linux geeks buy iBooks and Powerbooks now that OS X is out. OS X is the best of both [alternative] worlds.

Performance aside, the iApps are also quite nice. Ultimately, they are what are bringing me to desire yet another impractical Macintosh PC. iTunes is great. I haven't found a good replacement for all iTunes does for Windows yet. Winamp, nice, but buggy in my system when I try to rip tunes after installing the plugin. Quintessential mp3 Player (or whatever) is great, but won't play Shorten format. Neither's interface comes close to being as easy to use as iTunes.

Same with iMovie. I've got a DV camera, and making Quicktime movies to share really is a snap. iMovie is easy to use and I can edit together pretty good amatuer home video in a hour or so, even on the iBook. I've also got a digital still camera, and iPhoto, though horribly wasteful with hard drive space (it copies your originals in a new location, and the copies, even in the same image format, are often larger than what you started with!), is very well done. Planning to try out the linen covered picture-books you can order from iPhoto this month as well. If iDVD is half as good as these, and I'm banking it is, DVD authoring is right around the corner for me with the shortest learning curve you could imagine. The Macintosh as a "solution provider", rather than a "Swiss-army knife" Windows or Linux PC, is a package that's hard to beat. The solutions provided are right up my alley as well.

But knowing Apple, the yet-to-be-released iDVD 4 will require a new G5 processor. And though iDVD 2 will be awfully k3w1, somehow they'll have me wanting to take that last little "inch" to a new computer the same way the iBook has me seeing the proverbial OS X promised land without quite taking me there. And the addiction will continue for years to come as I continue to, against my best judgement, line the coffers of Cupertino. Sheesh.