|Re: What's HP Equivalent Today?|
Message #27 Posted by Darwin Engwer on 31 Aug 2001, 1:55 a.m.,
in response to message #26 by John K.
Well, as I said earlier I think that Apple has certainly (at times) done a good job on 3 of the 4 points, namely innovation, relatively high price and marginal market acceptance.
Quality (being the more subject term) is at times lacking. (IMHO) I'll cite a few examples to illustrate.
-key caps on the original iBook
-touchpad on iBook and Powerbook
-OS lags Windows
Often I can gauge a product's robustness by visiting the local computer store and examining the demo models. Those chintzey plastic key caps on the iBook are often smashed, twisted, fallen off and missing. I've seen the same thing on WinTel laptops but nowhere near the same level. QED.
OK this is a really sore point with me bcus Apple pioneered the introduction of the touchpad (on the powerbook). After an initial adjustment I came to love the touchpad and I still think it's the best pointing device there is. But, it must be properly set up. I have encountered many people who claim to hate it and when I show them how to set it up properly they love it too. They key is that the movement and acceleration controls need to be set so that you can easily move the cursor from one corner of the screen to the diagonally opposite corner in *one* (fast) movement. No picking up your finger and swipping multiple times. When you can traverse the entire screen in one movement you can forget about the pad and just look at the point on the screen to where you want to move the pointer. The acceleration allows you rock your finger back and forth to do fine positioning. And it works for any sized finger.
Now, the trouble with the iBook and Powerbook touchpads is that the control panel doesn't have an acceleration setting. Therefore there is no way to get accurate, effortless, smooth positioning of the pointer. I've tried and it just doesn't work. I've watched others using these machines and it's amazing how much time they waste lifting their finger and using multiple swipes just to get the pointer positioned where they want it. It's very frustrating.
(To be fair, some WinTel laptops don't provide the proper controls either.)
-OS lags Windows
(OK, here goes the big one):
I think that the MAC OS (and I mean the core GUI functions) lags behind Windows.
To be fair, I have NOT yet seen and played with MAX OS X. (Although I am overwhelmed by a shortage of strong recommendations too.) So I'm talking about everything up thru MAC OS v9.
And what I observe is that using (navigating) on a MAC is much, much harder than on Windows. Part of it has to do with that darned mouse (see touchpad note above). From the very first time I touched a MAC GUI (in 1983, on a Lisa), after about 30 minutes I wanted to take that darn mouse and throw it against the wall. The reason is that *everything* must be done with the mouse. When doing reptitive tasks (which is what you tend to do with a computer) that's fine the first few times, but after a few hundred times I long for a quicker, faster way. The MAC GUI does not allow this. Now this I find strange bcus Apple did the studies on what makes a good UI and published the results as the Apple User Interface Guidelines. And in there it says that different users learn how to do things differently, so a good UI provides *multiple* ways to do the same operation. For example maybe you can select a menu option, click a toolbar button or use a mouse gesture. Now, IMHO Windows provides that type of support in spades, whereas MAC OS does not. For example, just the [simple] addition of another button on the mouse allows for an *class* of ways to do something - i.e. you right click on some object and see what set of options or commands can be applied to that object. Windows also provides hot keys for the most frequently performed operations.
So, again I watch people using the two types of systems and I see MAC users continually taking longer to do the same task as a Windows user. And I'm not even talking about a power Windows user that rarely even needs to touch the mouse once they get going.
People are quick to beat up on Microsoft, esp. about Windows, but you must admit Microsoft has kept advancing [innovating] Windows' core functionality, while Apple's seemed to have remained mostly constant.
I'm curious to see what Apple has done in MAC OS X. John mentioned that MAX OS X and NeXTStep feel somewhat similar, so maybe Apple was just focusing all their efforts on MAC OS X. Certainly NeXTStep incoporated many useful extensions beyond the original MAC OS.
Also, I've seen a few comments lately that Linux or BeOS are better than both Apple and Microsoft and again I could offer hard analysis that shows that's not true.
In terms of marginal market acceptance, remember this:
Apple has 1.5% of the computer business and for that is often cited as an also-ran. Yet, BMW and Mercedes (together) have less than 1.5% of the US auto market; yet they are both precevied as substantial players in the auto industry. So, we shouldn't be too hard on Apple, afterall, being known as the BMW and Mercedes of the computer industry would be quite a compliment.