I think that the title of this post is pretty self-explanatory, but I do often get asked by my techno-geek friends why I have actively moved away from high-end Windows/Intel hardware and am happy to sit at an old Blue Dalmatian iMac G3 or a Pismo G3 laptop. Surely, they reason, they are too slow, too old and I can't play the latest games?
Well, whilst I will admit that I will be unlikely to run Prey or Doom 3, the fact is that I don't really mind so much. To be honest, I get more joy from the old point and click games and, with a few exceptions, that genre has lacked a decent effort since the G3 was new. In fact, other than the new Jack Keane game and the Sam and Max episodic adventures that have been released recently, I can't think of anything I have missed. Yes, a port of Grim Fandango would be nice, but I've got all my SCUMM games covered, as well as a few others. Given that I am happy to play games like Broken Sword repeatedly because of the script and the way I get absorbed, I don't think i will be bored anytime soon. Not to mention the fact I do have a PS3 for my gaming needs if required.
As for being too old and too slow, well, aside from that being a sensation I can relate to (it's been a long day at work!), I really don't think they are. Yes, I probably can't run Photoshop CS3, or edit a feature film, but given that I haven't got Photoshop CS3 and I rarely need to edit video nowadays (and I'll buy a G5 for when I do), I'd say that they are more than up to the task of letting me write and edit images whilst listening to some music. I know that things like Youtube can stutter on playback, but I think that has more to do with the Flash version than anything else - Flash 10 is supposed to fix a lot of the bloat and glitches that can affect playback. Not only that, but given that I have a 600Mhz iMac with 640mb of RAM and 60GB hard drive and the Pismo is a 500Mhz, with 512mb of RAM and 60GB hard drive, along with a DVD/CDRW combo drive, I think they are pretty well equipped. Oh and the pair cost me £120 including shipping for the laptop (I picked up the iMac in person). I've spent more than that on a barbecue before now.
The machines are rugged, reliable, easy to use, quiet (no noisy fans running all the time) and do what I want them to do. Yes, at some point I'll look at getting a Quad G5 system with 23" cinema display, but that's more because I'd really like one than any obsolescence on the part of my iMac. The iMac will get relegated to iTunes server status, as I won't be giving it up any time soon, but rest assured when my child is old enough, it'll have an iMac of its own to learn on, then it can progress up the Macintosh tree - he/she can learn to use Windows at school, but I'd prefer them to learn to actually use a computer to do things with, as opposed to learning how to get a computer to simply stop from crashing. Given that most home activity is web-based, a G3 iBook would suit their needs, as they can always play games on a console, and because kids tend to be clumsy, I won't sob if they drop the iBook (partly because they are tough and unlikely to break, but more because it will cost peanuts), whereas I'd want to commit murder if they dropped a state-of-the-art Sony Vaio or Dell.
The final part of my reason for using such machines is the way they make me feel. My Pismo sits neatly on my lap, it feels nice and they keyboard and trackpad are the best I've ever known on a laptop. The iMac is equally tactile (I've got the white Apple Pro keyboard and the clear mouse), but it looks so nice you don't know whether to suck it like a mint or give it a hug. It's friendly, approachable and it helps get the creative juices flowing. When I sat at a desk with my old Windows workstation on it, it was a big black box that sounded like a vacuum cleaner and it totally dominated the room in a sort of homage to the obelisk in 2001. And we all know how well human/computer relations went in that film. It actively discouraged any sort of flippancy or fun when I sat at the desk, which is precisely what is required when you're an accountant, but not so helpful when you work in a creative industry and are trying to write your novel/paint your picture, etc. I'm looking to move back to freelance work in the next year, so no doubt I'll end up with a new iMac or a G5/Mac Pro tower to do the grunt work, but I'll use my little G3 as long as I can because, frankly, it just makes me happy and I'd feel mean if I ignored it.