What's it going to be doing? If graphics and web design, I would lean toward Apple. Or video editing, Apple hands down.
Business world....a windows pc. Dell makes great machines, but in the high end. If you have a business connection, Dell Optiplex line of computers are great since you get US support for an extended time, and can score a great price if connected. I love the precision workstations, but you need a lot of work to justify one.
If just general use around the house or small business, I would personally find a no name brand and make sure of the components in it. Most everything will out live a warranty period, and my concern would be motherboard, chipset, hdd, major video ability and controller, and more memory the better, especially if you go Win7-64, which I would personally. Where you can find applications, they rock. If not, it kludges along in 32 ok.
I share the thought that what's inside the case is more important than the name on it. I just bought an H-P desktop for two reasons. Between my children and myself, we have three H-P laptops and they have been flawless for over two years now. And B-J's Wholesale Club has a nice desktop bundle on sale right now for $750.
It has a Pentium 5500 processor (2.8GHz, I think), a Western Digital 1TB hard drive, 8GB of whatever the good RAM is called these days, Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium and a 23" flat-panel LCD monitor. I forget what the other compnents are but it's a model p-6536f-b on BJ's website. The RAM is expandable, there is an open bay in the front for a Blu-Ray drive (or ?), I installed a second Western Digital 1TB hard drive in a bay for that and added a surround sound system with subwoofer to it. Everything is working well together and all my files from my 12 year-old XP machine transferred over without any drama.
I would not recommend HP to anyone, unless I didn't like them. I have had many experiences with HP in the past number of years where they have failed miserably to provide support for their products. PCs AND Printers both. Their tech support and service is the lowest standard I've ever seen. In contrast, Dell has been exceptional. They had some issues a few years ago with bad capacitors. They learned a lesson from that. I had a defective unit last week and they sent a replacement out the same day. This was a system that was brand new, so they sent a new one, rather than send a tech out to fix the defective unit. It arrived in a couple of days. They would have made it sooner, but I was in no hurry for the system. I have not had ANY trouble with Dell's tech support in the last Decade. Even when they had the capacitor issues, they took care of everything I presented them with and extended the warranties on the systems that were effected. Lenovo is also another OK brand, but some of their systems aren't up to snuff. Acer makes a cheap system that seems to be of a moderate quality, but their support is only OK for someone that has some knowledge with PCs to begin with. I don't recommed Apple, unless there are specific programs that you would need to run for specific purposes. If not, it's more expensive for the same hardware and a Windows based system is usually a better value.
If looking at a Dell, you might want to wander over to the small business area and see what they offer. Many of the Vostro and business systems are pretty well engineered and they usually don't come loaded with all of the crapware that the retail systems have.
EMachines, Gateway, and Acer are all the same company if memory serves me correctly. Lenovo is what used to be the IBM retail/small business market. Made in China and not the same as your grandmother's IBM.
No matter what Brand or operating system you go for, be sure to get a good Antivirus and antimalware program installed and set up. Even some of the free ones work quite well.
My last two computers I had built for me. I priced out the customary Del, Gateway, etc and then went to a small computer shop and told the computer builder what I wanted and he built it for me with better hardware than I would have gotten from the Best Buy and other shops that I got quotes from. I ended up with a better Computer and I didn't have to spend hours deleting all the junk that the regular places put in them. Oh and it cost less and the warranty was better.
Don't believe for a second that Macs are not vulnerable. They have as many, if not more unpatched security issues than Windows. They also go unpatched for a longer time. If you run a Mac without Antivirus/Malware software, you will eventually get hit with something. You can do the research yourself on zero day vulnerbility comparisons between the two operating systems. No matter what system you are running, you need to be proactive on defense.
I haven't found what I'd call good support in very many of the electronics industries - I'd love to speak with someone for whom English was a first language once in a while. But I've never had bad service from H-P. In fact, I called them about a minor glitch in the set-up of this new desktop that I actually caused myself and not only was the person I spoke with helpful, a supervisor called a few days later to make sure everything was okay.
If that was your experience, it was an "above average" support response. I have not had one good experience with HP support for over eight years. That is on the consumer end and the business support end. They were once the best in the business for support. That went away when they started to chase profits over customer support and satisfaction. Their products and after the sale performance have suffered. Until they can get that turned around, I will continue to recommend other manufacturers. Maybe Mark Hurd's successor will be better in that regard.
I have a 2004 iBook from Apple. We just got free Norton software from our ISP. I installed it and ran a scan on the old girl. Nothing. No spyware, no adware, no viruses in 6 years of constant use.
I use my personal G4 Mac tower at work. It is a 2001 model. Still chuggin' along after 9 years of constant use. I have a Mac in my lab that is a 1998 original iMac with a 233 mhz processor and a 4 gig HD. Runs MS Office fine. Heck, it is old enough to go deer hunting this fall in Pennsylvania.
As far as productivity software, MS Office is MS Office.
My wife is on her 3rd pc laptop since 2004. Averatec - Dead, Toshiba - Dead, HP - On life support. Sometimes starts, sometimes doesn't. When it goes, she is gettin' a Mac.
I'm in favor of the guys building you A computer in their store and you telling them what you want specifically. I ordered a Dell because everyone was telling me how great they were and how good the service was I spent a total of seven hours on the phone with their great techs trying to get their machine to accept the wireless Verizon signal. When my cell phone was again going dead The tech was telling me what they were going to try tomorrow. This was day two. I politely told him to send a truck to get their piece of junk off my property and I walked into a store locally and bought one from a salesman. Do yourself a big favor and don't pay attention to television ads on computers. Go talk to the salemen who sell them and service them thru their businesses every day. I'm sure I got a bad out of the box machine and a lot of Dell users are very happy with their machines so you will be at the mercy of the computer companys and lets hope you get a good machine that will give you plenty of service. Dan
I agree with those who recommend against HP. I have one of their top laptops and have had to send it to depo repair twice in two years since it replaced the first laptop and their tech support by phone is terrible. 24 out of 26 times I have phoned for tech support, I reached East Indians who can neither speak nor understand English well.
This past week I called 15 times and refused to talk with Indians. I still have a problem with my HP Revovery (E) drive.
I will never buy another Lenovo laptop (had 5 of them) or HP laptop (have had two of them). IBM's tech support for Lenovos is fair, which is far better than HP's.
To all who gave me your advice-- THANKS---1st I made a mistake in my post---I asked for info on a desk top and should have been a lap top---I have a Dell 1720 lap top
that crashed(5yrs old)spent 6 hrs with Indians and finally told they could not help and suggested I contact a computer repair shop---I did so and the guy fixed it $175.00---I lost some of my personal data but had a back up on my desk top---Before it was fixed my wife went and bought an Apple 15" for$1800.00
plus tax---Thats when I went to the repair shop and the Apple went back for refund---The repair guy suggested I buy a HP at Sams club for $500.00 if at that time he wasn't sure he could fix the Dell---The Dell is now fixed and working fine---He suggested HP since most anything can be fixed on an HP and an Apple must go back to Apple for repair---Note--My Dell is a 17" screen---The Apple was 15"---He said the Dell should be good for at least 3 more yrs and the computers may be cheaper then and less complicated---Note also that you can buy 3 HPs for same price as an Apple---Also note he set up free anti virius protection(Avast) and that protection works as good as the paid protection---My whole family has Apple and thinks I should have gone with the Apple but I think I made the right decision---Again Thanks to all---Your input is still welcome----SJB---
I have had three HP units of which I had trouble with all of them and cust suppt was very poor. I am on my second Dell with zero probs. I am in the market for a new Dell laptop now as this one is 8 years old ( but still strong, just outdated)
Did Apple tell you they were selling you the same hardware that a Windows machine would use for up to two times the price? Apple uses standard PC hardware in their systems presently. Old G3, G4, etc, was when Apple had a unique hardware platform. Now it's basically the same Intel stuff you can get at Best Buy with Windows installed.
The guy that fixed your Dell did a good thing by installing AV software. I can't stress the need for it, even on an Apple branded system. I do this stuff for a living and have had more Mac issues with their newer systems than I'd have expected years ago.
I'm not saying that Apple doesn't have it's place. There are many people that use apps created for the Macs and have great success with them. They are sometimes a decent machine, but for an everyday, surf the net, email device, they are way overpriced for the hardware you get. I built a "Hackintosh" as an experiment one time. Total cost would be a little over $800 including some special hardware to make it work as a Mac. The equivalent Mac was around $1200. Same kind of hardware and same kind of performance. The Apple just costs more. Apple has a tight reign on what hardware you can buy and have run the Mas OS. Hearing some recommendations here about having the local shop custom build a system won't happen with a Mac. With Apple, you get what THEY say you will get AND you will just have to like it THEIR way. If it doesn't work, you are just holding it wrong.
The Mac vs PC argument is now moot. They are BOTH made with "PC" (Intel) hardware. It's Mac vs Windows on the same type of hardware. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. They both have a following and loyalty from some of their users. I don't really prefer either one, but I NEED flexibility and like freedom of choice. I don't get that with most of Apple's products. I also have a serious need for low cost solutions to get my work done. I can't afford to spend 30% more for an OS and hardware, just because it's oh-so-cute or made by a particular company. I build most of my own systems and Apple does not play at all for the do-it-yourself crowd. I'm still not a fan of Windows either, so I use what I get for the right price. There are Free operating systems out there that will do most of what I need them to do. They may not always be well poslished, but they can do whatever I need them to do, unless it is an exclusive function of a Mac or Windows machine.
One thing I have found, is that there are some people that get strongly imbedded in a preference for one or the other. Sometimes Rabidly so. If you want a Mac, please feel free to buy one. If you want a Windows machine, same thing. If you want an alternate operating system, feel free to experiment and find one that fits. In ANY event, be sure to be proactive with AV and Malware defense. NO operating system is immune. If you have gotten lucky so far, great. Keep practicing safe surfing, but keep your protective software up to date. I feel that Apple does a great disservice to their customers by furthering the falicy that they are immune to exploits. Windows machines are a bigger target, so they get the most attention from hackers. If someone wanted to make a haul, there are Soooo many unprotected Macs out there. I've had to clean quite a few of them in my time.