Responding to a comment last week, I hereby offer some advice to Luke S., a Massachusettsean who is getting set to go off to a liberal-arts college in the fall. (Luke is also a cross-country skier, and no doubt much faster than I have ever been or will ever be, but I am much more adept at changing diapers.) Luke wanted advice as to why he oughta get a Mac instead of an ostensibly cheaper PC.
1. Macs are much, much prettier than any PC.
2. Macs work better with all the other Apple stuff that you either have or will soon have, like an iPod, as well as with all the other electronic geegaws which everyone has nowadays - cell phones, digital cameras, etc.
3. Once you consider the various costs with which PC makers later stick you, Macs actually don't cost more than comparable Windows machines, despite the myths.
4. You don't want to try to wrestle with Vista the night before your final paper is due. That'd be worse than trying to outsprint Petter Northug at the end of a double pursuit: he might trip, but chances are better he'll put ten seconds in you in a hundred meters.
5. OS X is much easier to use and more stable, at the application level and at the system level, than either XP or Vista. (see #4)
6. Almost everyone else at college will have Macs and while peer pressure or "being cool" is a poor reason to join the fun, the ease of sharing files and applications and experiences when on a Mac is itself a good reason to have a Mac. (I mean, iMovie or Final Cut Pro versus something from Microsoft?)
7. When you want to upgrade, you'll get a lot more for a used Mac than a used PC. (I've seen Carleton students selling 4-year-old PowerBooks for $500, while a 2-year-old Dell laptop goes for $150 or less.)
8. From my experience, college IT help desks - student and staff - are much more adept at handling Mac problems than PC problems.
9. Though some ne'er-do-wells are working up viruses for Macs, right now even the most secure PC is much more susceptible to viruses and other such troubles than even unprotected Macs.