Many of you reading the title of this article and the name of this blog are probably thinking, “How is a Mac frugal?” This decision wasn’t made with the idea in mind to sacrifice luxury for a lower price, it was made with the idea in mind of getting the most polished and complete experience at the lowest price. I’m a giant advocate for open source but many programs just need a commercial budget to allow for development and design time to make things work smoothly and intuitively. In areas like video editing, there is little room for obstacles and hurdles between me and completing projects.
As a game reviewer, Windows was and continues to be my operating system of choice for gaming. Windows 7 has never let me me down in terms of performance and compatibility with the games I love. For this reason, my Asus G72 remains an important part of my home computing world.
Video editing is something I like to do but quick edits are often very difficult in Adobe Premiere. For this reason a quick and dirty solution is needed and few programs have worked as smoothly and completely as iMovie which is included free with every new Mac. Windows Movie Maker has poor support for popular formats, terribly restrictive editing features, and a miserable encoding system. iMovie coupled with Quicktime is a solid combination that works very well when you’re needing something published to YouTube in a short amount of time. Unless the project I’m working on requires advanced editing techniques like 3D motion, object rendering, and video effects, iMovie is typically my default editing program.
On Windows, I use either Audacity or Adobe Audition for audio editing. These programs each have their strengths and weaknesses, and they have roughly $300 between them in price. Audacity lacks a lot of the functionality I need in day-to-day work so my need for something more full-fledged comes with a price. Garage Band, included free on new Macs, gives me audio editing and publishing that sits somewhere between Audition and Audacity in terms of features and quality. I know a lot of open source fanatics out there are probably steaming at this last statement. Please keep in mind I’ve written articles about how great Audacity is in the past and what few changes it needs to overtake Audition and compete more directly with Pro Tools.
Also on the topic of audio and video, OSX seems to have a better system of handling audio and video playback. Even on lesser hardware, videos play and edit smoothly with minimal jerks and pauses where they may be unwatchable otherwise. This is partially due to the way OSX addresses these calls and prioritizes CPU usage. While it isn’t a perfect system, it has surprised me again and again just how much more I can do on “lesser” hardware specifications thanks to a more optimized OS.
I also tend to do a lot of screen streaming on the web. A great program for doing this is CamTwist for OSX (free) which allows you to stream pretty much anything you or your computer can see with a multitude of text options and effects. The closest program to this on the PC is WebCam Max which costs money and has less features. While a single third-party program like this shouldn’t be a determining factor to most, it can be if this is important to you.
In a way, I bought a Mac to save money on all the expensive software I had to buy for the PC. If you add up Adobe Premiere and Audition, the difference is staggering and is more than made up for in the price difference between the two systems. So for folks that constantly complain that the Mac is too expensive, it depends on what you use it for.