When the time came to lay my Mac to rest, an absurd notion started buzzing around in my head: what if I replaced it with a Windows PC?
I actually clung to my old Mac long past its prime. When the sad day finally came, it had been with me for 10 years, and oh, how hard it had worked for me; the millions of open browser tabs it had endured!
But a few months ago, my Mac’s newly-installed Word 365 refused to open. That was the last straw. I’d gotten used to the fact that Adobe Illustrator was no longer an option. I’d resigned myself to dashing from outlet to outlet because my Mac’s atrophied battery was useless. And I’d even learned to close each browser tab as soon as possible to conserve my computer’s working memory — even when using RAM-conservative Safari.
And yeah, I know what you’re thinking: just get a new Mac. The thing is, those sweet, sweet Apples are expensive. I had just “wrapped up” (read: lost) my previous job, and was only starting to get into freelance work. I was not at the point where I could drop $2,000 or more to replace my top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. I didn’t want to bother with a MacBook Air, since the CPU and RAM available on the Air are limited and might, therefore, slow down my workflow in the years to come.
I had an iPhone and iPad; I was in a Mac bubble, and in addition to concerns with cost, wanderlust and FOMO set in. I have to admit, I wanted to know what I was missing out on in the PC world. It was time to, well, think differently. Sorry Mac.
I was looking for something like the Madewell jeans of computers. Not luxury, but not instant trash. Something functional, a bit sexy, and still affordable. And something robust enough to survive my 4-year-old clamoring over my desk in unwieldy princess gowns.
My freelancer friend who also has youngsters at home showed me his Lenovo Yoga laptop. It could work as a tablet or stand on end for watching TV; it’s a 2-in-1, he explained. I found out that I could get a high-resolution display, 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 CPU-equipped Lenovo Yoga C740 for about $1,000 (as long as I didn’t need a fancy graphics processor for gaming). This was about the same price as a MacBook Air, which clocks in at only 8GB RAM and has a Core i5 CPU.
I steered my ailing Mac to the Lenovo site. Thank goodness computers aren’t sentient yet, because I’m sure my Mac would have been pissed at me. I chatted with a Lenovo salesperson on the phone for a while. And finally, I bought the new machine I hoped would help me feed my family.
For two weeks, I awaited the arrival of the Yoga. I used the public library when I needed Word 365 but little did I know that Covid-19 would soon shut down public libraries.
When my new machine first arrived, everything seemed OK. Better than OK! Within a day or two, I had downloaded Affinity Designer (an Adobe InDesign alternative) to make a COVID-19 neighborhood resource flyer, and I’d gotten started on a new copy editing project.
Slowly but surely, I started to overcome the learning curves associated with the switch to a Windows laptop. My Mac-trained fingers began to move the cursor with some accuracy. I discovered that the em-dash — a crucial tool for a writer — is much harder to come by on a PC; I learned to cut-and-paste it into place. On a Mac, your cursor disappears automatically when typing; not so on a PC. But I forced my thumb to flick the cursor out of my typing path so many times that it became automatic.
Meanwhile, navigating Windows and its File Explorer was much more intuitive than I’d expected. And when I had a question — What the heck is up with this tenacious McAfee AntiVirus? — I got an answer quickly on Reddit or another online forum. The PC-user community out there is truly massive.
But soon enough, I had a problem on my hands. It was a big one, and it got progressively worse over what should have been me and my Lenovo’s honeymoon period. My keyboard started to malfunction. I would type a few words, and then, slowly, at a rate of one character per second, the typed phrase would appear. Keys would work normally again after 30 seconds or a minute. But this started to happen with increasing frequency, up to a few times per hour. Forum research revealed the same complaint from dozens of other users. Yet Lenovo never posted a response to these complaints.
As I started trying to get help, I realized that Lenovo’s customer service was a mess compared to Apple’s. I eventually received a one-line email from Lenovo telling me that I’d need to send in my computer to Houston for repair, and that they’d send me a shipping box. Coronavirus-related library closures would mean I had no good computer options while my new computer was away, and the Lenovo messaging center’s assurances of prompt service seemed shaky at best.
Sure enough, after I sent my computer in for repair, it seemed to disappear. My attempts at communication were cut short by rushed customer service reps. Covid-19 might have disrupted replacement-keyboard supply chains, but customer service is foremost about communication. Lenovo hadn’t been able to give me anything like the real-talk I’d gotten from Apple over the years.
When I finally got my computer back from Lenovo’s repair shop nearly 4 weeks after I’d sent it in, I was rankled but relieved. I started on my clients’ projects immediately.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve gotten used to Windows. And you know what? It’s totally fine for my purposes. I don’t need to use FaceTime on my computer, and I find that excessive Cloud connections mess with my workflow. The laptop itself feels really, really fast.
So: I’m relatively content with my purchase. I did learn that there’s more to Apple than a nice machine—they have a massive support apparatus. Apple acts like it loves its customers, expensive as that love is to buy. And I didn’t realize how important positive customer service vibes are to me.
I also learned that a PC could, indeed, suit my purposes, and that switching operating systems was more about retraining my muscles than undergoing a paradigm shift. Lenovo does provide a sturdy, high-quality laptop for a reasonable price. I hope my Lenovo and I can be happy together for a long time to come. So far, so good: this morning, we are at 14 open tabs and counting.