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 P.H.E.N.O.M.E.N.A.L

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POPULAR MECHANICS has published a shootout between similarly-specced Macs and PCs using popular benchmarking tools and user feedback and has come to a (not very) surprising conclusion.

Glen Derene from PM also used a number of 'real world' tests to find out how the machines. "We tested two all-in-one desktops and two laptops - one Mac and one PC per category - and assembled a panel of testers with a range of experience and preference that ran the gamut from expert users to my wife’s stepfather, who, by his own account, had never actually turned on a computer.

"Our testers were asked to set up the computers right out of the box and explore the machines through everyday tasks such as Web surfing, document creation, uploading photos, downloading Adobe Acrobat files and playing music and movies through Media Center and Front Row."

In all fairness, the test was aimed, not at the likes of our readership (before you start getting your slide rules out and shouting at us about the iniquity of the whole thing) but at the average Joe user with little or no interest in pootling about in the inner workings of his operating system, or over-clocking his toaster.

We'll hand you back over to Glen for his conclusion:

"In both the laptop and desktop showdowns, Apple’s computers were the winners. Oddly, the big difference didn’t come in our user ratings, where we expected the famously friendly Mac interface to shine. Our respondents liked the look and feel of both operating systems but had a slight preference toward OS X.

"In our speed trials, however, Leopard OS trounced Vista in all-important tasks such as boot-up, shutdown and program-launch times. We even tested Vista on the Macs using Apple’s platform-switching Boot Camp software... and found that both Apple computers ran Vista faster than our PCs did.

"Simply put, Vista proved to be a more sluggish operating system than Leopard. Our PCs installed some software faster, but in general they were slower in our time trials. Plus, both PCs showed weaker performance on third-party benchmarks than the Macs. Our biggest surprise, however, was that PCs were not the relative bargains we expected them to be. The Asus M51sr costs the same as a MacBook, while the Gateway One actually costs $300 more than an iMac.

"That means for the price of the Gateway you could buy an iMac, boost its hard drive to match the Gateway’s, purchase a copy of Vista, and still save $100."

Let's not forget that Popular Mechanics also reckons its readers like to build particle accelerators and spaceships in their garages.

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