Which one is better for digital video, Mac or PC?

on Sunday, February 10, 2008

Like the debate over whether cats or dogs make better pets, the question of whether to use a Mac or a PC has been disputed tirelessly between the true believers. It has been a largely unproductive dispute: For the most part, Mac people are still Mac people, and PC people are still PC people. But who is right? If you want the best computer for working with digital video, should you choose a PC or a Mac? Well, look at the important factors:
  • Ease of use: Macintosh users often boast that their computers are exceedingly easy to use, and they are right. But if you’re a long-time Windows user, you might not think so. Some things are easier to do on a Mac, but other things are easier to do in Windows. Neither system offers a clear advantage, so if you’re a creature of habit, you’ll probably be happiest if you stick with what you know.
  • Reliability: The Windows Blue Screen of Death (you know, the dreaded screen that often appears when a Windows PC crashes) is world-famous and the butt of countless jokes. But the dirty little secret of the Macintosh world is that until recently, most Macs crashed nearly as often as Windows PCs. Apple’s new Macintosh operating system — OS X — brings a new level of stability and refinement to the Macintosh world, but the latest Windows XP is pretty dependable as well. Reliability is important to you because video pushes your computer’s performance to its limits. Get a Mac with OS X or a PC with Windows XP and you should be just fine.
  • Digital video support: I can’t be wishy-washy any longer; if you want a great computer ready to edit digital video right out of the box, a new Macintosh is the safer bet. All new Macs come with built-in FireWire ports, making it easy to hook up your digital camcorder. Macs also come with iMovie, a pretty good entry-level video-editing program. Windows comes with Windows Movie Maker, but it is not as capable as iMovie. Also, many Windows PCs still don’t come with built-in FireWire, meaning you’ll either have to special-order it or install a FireWire card yourself.
So there you have it: Macs and PCs are both pretty good. Sure, Macs all come with FireWire, but if you shop around, you should be able to find a Windows PC with FireWire for about the same price as a new Mac. Both platforms can make excellent video-editing machines, so if you’re already dedicated to one or the other, you should be fine.
Just don’t start any brawls, okay? You never know when a computer nerd wielding an iPod stylus might take offense.