My experience is very much like yours. For years I used a Windows system both at work and at home. I used to spend one or two weekends a year tearing down and rebuilding my home system due to device driver conflicts, corrupted registry entries, disappearing system settings, etc. etc. Just hideous. Somewhere around here I still have sweat-stained notebooks full of incomprehensible Blue Screen messages that are the equivalent of "PC LOAD LETTER" or worse. (Yet many PC zealots get emotionally wrought up when you suggest they might have a better experience using a Mac. Just who is running a cult here??)
I'm sure current-day Windows systems are much more reliable, but six years ago I decided to cut my losses and get an Apple machine. I have had zero system crashes since -- not to mention the joy of using a machine that hardly ever hangs or forces me to kill a process.
I spent more cash on that iMac than I would have spent on an equivalent Windows system, but, since I value my time, it's proven to be a great decision.
For anyone who's going to be doing a lot of music or video production, or intensive photographic work, I'd recommend a Mac Pro. The iMac's tiny case will eventually overheat the components inside if it's driven hard every day. So for me, this Woot is underwhelming.
The downside of an iMac is that everything is in one small space, so hardware maintenance is much harder. After 4 years my iMac's video card went bad, and since it was integrated with the motherboard, replacing it wouldn't have been cost effective. So I got a Mac Pro (2.8GB Quad Core Xeon) this last time, about a year ago. (Yes, I had backups of everything, so no data loss in the conversion.)
With a superfast SSD main drive, several huge auxiliary drives, and 12 GB of RAM, this Mac Pro is a monster...not to mention the excellent software that comes bundled with any Mac, and all the fantastic software and hardware that's available for OS X.
But there are still people who miss the days of tinkering with their carburetors and get their rocks off doing frequent computer maintenance at home. I'm glad to have moved on to a system that's more about getting things done than about keeping the system running.
mehmehmehmeh wrote:I was firmly in the Windows camp until about 3 years ago, I installed Hackintosh OSX on an extra partition and used it for about a month. Pretty soon after I took the plunge on an iMac of my own. I still have it, have upgraded from Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion, and have not had to do one bit of OS maintenance or troubleshooting for 3 years. I will keep using this computer until it doesn't work anymore, which will hopefully be a half dozen years from now. I know people that have iMacs of the last design that still function perfectly 5-6 years later. This is absolutely worth the 20% premium or whatever you pay for a Mac.
I've never really had a moment where I've been like "Oh, I can't do this because I have a Mac," but I suppose that's because I play video games on an Xbox 360 (I like zero-maintenance, zero-configuration processes).
I still use Windows 7 at work (mid-sized software company, I do software engineering). I like Windows 7 but I really can't imagine myself ever buying a personal computer that runs Windows ever again.
If you like doing menial maintenance and configuration tasks out of some kind of misguided masochism, and are fine with having to buying new computers every 3-4 years, I would recommend getting that HP(lol) machine. If you want a computer for getting work done, or as a zero-maintenance, zero-configuration personal computer that will keep chugging along at full speed for years after comparative Win machines are being melted down in China, I recommend taking the plunge.