Typically, I avoid the seemingly and emotional Ford v. Chevy battles common in IT. You know the ones: the best antivirus, the better browser, iPhone versus Droid and even Mac versus Windows. But occasionally I think so highly of a specific platform or technology that I find myself on a soapbox preaching its benefits. The new Apple MacBook Pros are just such a product.
How so? Here are the five leading reasons I believe Apple's new MacBook Pros are business users' best laptop choice:
1. High reliability
Based on my experience as an IT consultant, Apple MacBook Pros experience far fewer failures than other leading laptop brands. But don't take my word for it. CBS Moneywatch, PC World and others, including independent studies, all tout the quality and reliability of Apple laptops, as well as the company's remarkably high levels of customer satisfaction and support.
That's not to say MacBook Pros are foolproof. But business users can rest assured that, when selecting Apple's professional series of laptops, they're deploying powerful machines that rank near or at the top of reliability and customer satisfaction ratings. And, when encountering trouble, it's good to know Apple can be counted on to address issues quickly.
2. They're fast
Whether booting Mac OS X or Windows 7 Professional, Apple's MacBook Pros are fast machines. Even the base 13" models include 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPUs and 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM.
When crunch time calls for the ability to multitask, these systems can easily power multiple Windows or Mac OS X applications simultaneously. The new MacBook Pros even manage the most demanding of production tasks: video editing. Considering 15" and 17" models can be specified to include up to 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPUs and 8GB RAM, the MacBook Pros are capable of the most demanding of tasks.
3. First-rate graphics
Business laptops are frequently set up in coffee shops or connected to large displays to host presentations. The MacBook Pro's graphics are simply outstanding, especially when the upgraded graphics engines are combined with Apple's crystal-clear LED displays and support both VGA and DVI out (with corresponding optional adapters).
The base Intel HD Graphics 3000 CPU encodes and decodes video quickly and manages intensive graphics processing well. With direct L3 cache access, video performance is improved in the new MacBook Pros by up to 3x, and graphic CPU refinements result in longer battery life when watching movies, something many business users are known to do when killing time on or waiting on flights. Discrete ATI Radeon architecture in the 15" and 17" models automatically improves frames-per-second performance, while optional upgrades enable maximizing video performance with 1GB of GDDR5 video memory thanks to an ATI Radeon HD 6750M video card.
4. They're cost effective
Don't believe me? Price them out.
Assuming an organization with Microsoft open volume licensing in place (where Windows is needed), Apple MacBook Pros are rarely much more expensive than corresponding models from other manufacturers. When comparing pricing, be sure to note the base MacBook Pro boasts the 2.3GHz Intel i5 CPU, 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a DVD burner, a backlit keyboard (which comes in handy when reviewing reports, finishing up presentations and returning email late at night) and fast GPU, as well as multiple USB ports and the new and fast Thunderbolt port.
Factor in higher reliability and some of the highest customer satisfaction and support levels ever measured, and you have a total cost of ownership that typically exceeds that of other systems. Anecdotally, my personal MacBook Pro models have far outlasted and outperformed my Windows (HP and Compaq models, specifically) used since the early ‘00s. The same is true for the hundreds of commercial clients my consultancy supports.
Note that, when I write of Apple MacBook Pro cost efficiencies, I have not nor do I now own any Apple stock. I don't have a horse in this race other than the personal experiences I've had, and that which I've observed my clients having, over more than a decade.
What sets the MacBook Pros apart? Sure, spend enough time and you can likely chase down a similarly spec'd model from another manufacturer, but there's almost always something missing. Because Apple controls and administers the hardware it uses, its engineers tighten control over the fit, finish and driver compatibility. As a result, business users end up with a computer that's simple, well designed, easy to use and better performing over the long haul. That's a great TCO combination in anyone's book.
5. They look damn good
Let's face it. People care about appearances. When meeting on business trips, joining an impromptu board discussion, or comparing notes over coffee, you know you judge others based on the gadgets they bring to the table. You can bet your colleagues are returning the favor. Bring a MacBook Pro to the game, and you don't have to worry. Jonathan Ive, the designer of the unibody MacBook Pro, has won more design awards than most other mortals. And for good reason; his designs hold appeal. Plus, they work.
While you shouldn't have to prove yourself based on the clothes you wear, the watch you sport, or the computer you use, others judge based on such elements. In the cut-throat world of business, competition and free enterprise, it doesn't hurt to leverage a widely respected laptop platform. As mentioned earlier, you also receive reliability, performance and cost efficiency as part of the package, so you can sleep safe at night knowing you didn't sell out.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.