Tech Talk: Personal Computer, Personal Choice

Mac or PC?

February 1, 1996

I don't yet own an office computer, but I plan to buy one in the near future. I'm wondering whether I'd be better off with a PC or a Macintosh. I've heard that Macs are easier to use, and that interests me, since I'm not a techie. Can you offer me any guidance?

Tough question. We posed it to several technology experts with real estate experience and got the same answer in every case: Whether you purchase an IBM-compatible personal computer or a Mac is really a matter of personal preference. Most major computer stores display their products in a way that allows you to play around with them, so our experts suggested you visit one of those stores and "test-drive" a PC and a Mac to see which one you're most comfortable with. You may also want to ask some of your business associates what sort of computer they have and whether it meets their needs effectively.

A key point to keep in mind is that the REALTORS Information NetworkTM (RIN)a business network designed to keep REALTORS® at the center of the transaction and developed by a wholly owned subsidiary of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®---is currently compatible with PCs only, though there are plans to explore the feasibility of a Mac version at some point in the future, according to RIN officials.

Here are some other points our experts suggest you keep in mind:

  • Some popular real estate and business software is written only for the PC platform. Often, though, comparable software is available for the Mac.
  • With the advent of Windows 95, PCs are gaining ground on Macs in terms of ease of use. Mac users, however, will tell you that even with Windows 95, the time from purchase to productivity is still shorter with a Mac.
  • Our Mac and PC experts agree that Internet access is better through a PC because some of the most useful Internet access programs are written only for the PC platform. These programs allow you to view information on the World Wide Web and navigate the Internet.
  • A key strength of the Mac is desktop publishing, such as the production of presentation materials, promotional brochures, and newsletters. Many excellent desktop publishing programs, however, are available for the PC. "We haven't found anything we need to do in the way of desktop publishing that our PCs can't handle," says Clayton Bowers, an associate with Mason McDuffie Real Estate, Antioch, Calif. Bowers is a speaker on using technology to increase sales.
  • When it comes to accessing the MLS, chances are there's software available for whatever model of computer you choose. It would be prudent, though, to check with your MLS provider.

Finally, if you want to swim with the tide in the real estate industry, it runs toward PCs, says Robert Hebron, of Frank Howard Allen, REALTORS®, Novato, Calif., and owner of McGraphics, a company that produces presentation and promotional materials for real estate practitioners using a Mac.

In short, the answer to your question ends up where it started: Whether to buy a PC or a Mac is largely a matter of personal preference.

The information presented here is collected from sources believed to be reliable by NAR. However, NAR doesn't endorse the information and shall bear no liability for damages or injuries that may arise out of reliance on this information.

Contributing to this answer were Wally Bock of Oakland, Calif., author and consultant on doing business in cyberspace, and RIN staff.

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