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Mac vs. PC: Who’s Winning The Productivity Race?

Mac vs. PC: Who’s Winning The Productivity Race?

No matter how far technology goes or how crucial integration across platforms becomes, you can still count on an eternal split between PCs and Macs. With fierce competition between the two crossing over into the realms of mobile computing, smartphones, and pretty much every other product, the choice between a PC and a Macintosh determines more than your home desktop’s OS. Historically, something as regular as a writing program would need completely different versions to run seamlessly on both.

The Basics of PC and Mac

PCs

First, let’s look at PCs — the vast majority of computers out there, including desktops and laptops. Windows computers are PCs, as are computers running Linux or any of the dozens of lesser-known operating systems that aren’t Mac OS. With most PCs, you have a great degree of control over your hardware. You can swap out CPUs, power supplies, connection hubs, motherboards, graphics cards — any and everything in your system. It may be more difficult with a laptop, but the option still exists.

Mac

On the other side of the equation, we have Apple computers running Mac OS. While the hardware on these isn’t quite as fixed as it once was, they’re still largely pre-built, unalterable systems. That means two things for the user: one, they’re built to perform well because the hardware reflects on Apple directly in a way PC parts don’t. Two, upgrading usually means a big expenditure, since you can’t upgrade piecemeal with the same ease.

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Of course, there are systems that blur the line once you get into custom builds, but presumably if you’re at that point, you already know your preference for productivity.

PC vs Mac: Power

It’s essentially impossible to say whether Mac or PC offers more power for productivity, because both come in so many variations. If you’re putting the time in to build your own PC, you’re probably going to get more bang for your buck. If you’re buying premade, Apple at the very least can be trusted to offer consistency in a way pre-built PC brands do not. Either way, you’ll want to do your homework on a particular system’s ability to run the apps you need for productivity rather than assuming any PC or Mac can do what you need.

PC vs Mac: Integrated applications

For years, Macs stood well above PCs regarding integrated applications, and for good reason — with the relative scarcity of third-party programs on their platform, Apple needed to offer tools worth using to remain competitive. This is essentially a large part of what lead to the Mac’s reputation as the system of choice for productivity. For media editing and a host of other tasks, Windows and other PC operating systems’ in-house solutions simply couldn’t keep up.

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The modern incarnations of Windows have greatly bridged the gap between the two, but most Windows users will still prefer third-party alternatives in most cases. What has notably improved on the PC side as a result of better in-house application development is the integration between platforms. It’s far easier to seamlessly manage productivity tools across your desktop, tablet, and smartphone than before, eroding one of the key strengths Mac traditionally offered. Mac still does it better, but the difference between the two is shrinking.

PC vs Mac: External applications

When we start looking at external applications developed by third parties, Mac begins to fall behind. While there’s certainly strength to be found in the unified, managed sandbox of the Apple ecosystem as a whole, individual solutions on PC tend to be more versatile and powerful. It’s simply a matter of reach: PCs, in particular PCs running Windows, still make up the bulk of the market, therefore you get more PC-savvy “devs” competing to produce the winning productivity tools.

That said, the trend of technology looks to return parity between the two, as much by coincidence as anything. Why? Because technology continues to move in the direction of web-based solutions operating remotely — so-called Software-as-a-Service solutions which operate largely agnostic to the system involved. While the intention behind these tools may be to make it easier to leverage applications across a variety of machines for mobility and ease of use, it also means Mac users will be less inhibited on third-party options moving forward.

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Cloud_applications

    Source: Wikimedia

    A few years back, one might struggle to find certain niche productivity applications like an online odds calculator that worked well on Mac. If one existed for your field, it might be of inferior quality due to a lack of competition. Today, one can run something as niche as a poker odds calculator directly from the web, regardless of their hardware.

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    Expert Opinions

    It should come as no surprise to hear that experts have largely moved past the question of whether one or the other wins the productivity race, because of the rapid rise of cloud-based solutions. Savvy users who want access to absolutely everything can use Mac computers equipped with workarounds to run their favorite Windows programs, but it’s increasingly unnecessary to go that far as more and more of the top developers move their programs into the cloud. Why make life complicated when a program can work perfectly on literally any computer?

    At the end of the day, the gaps between Mac and PC are shrinking with each successive generation of product. Windows 10 resembles the Mac OS more than ever, Macs continue to shrug off the worst constraints of the Apple sandbox, and popular languages like Python play nice whether you’re running a PC or Mac. So you’re going to be most productive, in most cases, by working with the tools you’re most familiar with — wherever those are to be found. If you have no preference or familiarity, you’ll want to experiment with both and see which camp you eventually side with.

    Featured photo credit: Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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    Last Updated on May 14, 2019

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

    1. Zoho Notebook
      If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
    2. Evernote
      The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
    3. Net Notes
      If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
    4. i-Lighter
      You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
    5. Clipmarks
      For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
    6. UberNote
      If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
    7. iLeonardo
      iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
    8. Zotero
      Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

    I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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    In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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