Cover all options and use a PC and a Mac

Letters to the Editor should be sent to Design Week, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX. Fax: 0171-734 1770.

I have been reading with interest about the Mac/PC debate in recent copies of Design Week. There are three issues here which must not be confused, and these are: the best tool for the job, the most economically viable tool, and industry compatibility.

In 1992 I started using a PC as a self-employed graphic designer. The reason being the PC offered all the same packages, plus twice the power at half the cost. In addition, in those days Apple didn’t seem to know where it was going and I didn’t want to invest in machinery that would soon be defunct. The other reason I didn’t need a Mac was that I dealt with clients direct and the PC was client-system compatible. Clients understood when I talked about the technology of a job.

If you work for clients directly you don’t need industry compatibility and the best tool for the job is the PC in terms of cost and performance. My 486 DX4/100Mhz PC runs faster, in all respects, than my PowerMac 7600/120Mhz, despite the fact that the Mac has two and a half times as much RAM (all other things are equal: both have SCSI hard drives, PCI buses and high-end video cards).

So why did I buy a Mac? Because my clients expected me to. In their eyes all the best designers have them; of course, clients are largely ignorant about the technology and therefore shouldn’t be concerned with anything other than the quality of the work delivered. The quality of work delivered from the PC is identical to that of a Mac and I have never had a problem with a PC bureau, although the golden rule is don’t trust a PC file to a Mac bureau, no matter what they say.

In terms of finding a full-time job however, you must be industry compatible and offer the relevant Mac skills to a high level, and I know from experience that you can’t walk into a position and expect to pick up the Mac OS as you go along. The packages are identical, but the two operating systems are different in both use and concept.

So my advice is be clear about why you buy a Mac, or Apple will never feel under pressure to get its act in order.

Stephen Price

Kingston upon Thames

Surrey KT2 6DA

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