The Three Mac Features I Want On My Next PC

This is a counterpoint to The Three PC Features I Want On My Next Mac

Macs suck. They’re overpriced, underpowered, and nothing more than disgusting status symbols. But I still want one. Well, sort of. I don’t want to give up the PC’s wide range of hardware options available or Windows 7 or, well, my dignity. So I guess really what I want is a few Mac staple features in my next PC notebook.

Multi-platform power adapters (and a clever power brick)

I have a few HP, Gateway and Asus notebooks in my house right now. That means there are 6 different power bricks laying around, which has forced me to label each one for easier identification. More times than not though, the wife and I play the match the ends to the notebook game in a desperate hunt for the proper power source. Our Macs? They use the same MagSafe charger even though they are a generation apart. Better yet, it’s easier to tell which notebook they go to as the big ones charge the MacBook Pros and the small ones are for the MacBooks. It’s that easy.

I don’t expect different PC manufacturers to unite together and decided on a universal adapter — although that would be awesome — but PC makers really need to consolidate their huge range of notebook power supplies into just one or two power bricks. Imagine a world where you could use your HP power adapter on *gasp* other HPs even from different generations and product lines instead of the 14 different power adapters currently used across their whole line.

While we’re on the topic, why is it that only Apple has a handy power brick that has great cable management and compatible with multiple international power tips? It’s that sort of attention to detail that makes Apple great. Us PC users are forced feed random sized black power bricks that at the very most might have a small strap of Velcro to help manage cables. If we’re going to universalize power anyway, why not stick a couple of designers in a room and have them come up with some a bit more classy.
A working trackpad
A working trackpad might be a bit erroneous. From what Devin gathered talking to Synaptics — the maker of Apple’s and most PC trackpads — all the trackpads they have produced over the last few years are nearly the same. It’s the combination of poor multitouch support in Windows and bad trackpad drivers that much things up in most PCs. That’s it. So in reality all we need is a better drivers, not trackpads.

I was using an HP Envy 15-inch (2nd gen) for a while and hated the mutlitouch, button-less trackpad. I cursed its name (I named it Stan – Screw you, Stan!) every time I used it. It didn’t work and convinced me that button-less trackpads were the devil. Then I used Devin’s new MacBook Pro. The damn thing worked like it was supposed to. I had to rewire my brain to use the trackpad as I should since the mutlitouch actually worked 100% of the time. I could actually click with one finger while another one rested elsewhere on the pad. It blew my mind.

But it’s just not that HP. I have never used a PC trackpad that’s as good as those found on my Macs. Even my 5-year old iBook’s trackpad that only supports two finger scroll works better than any other PC I have right now. It’s really pathetic.

I’m not sure who is to blame here. It could be Synaptics for not providing enough driver support, Microsoft for not supporting mutlitouch early enough, or even the PC manufacturers for constantly opting for the cheapest solution. I really don’t care, either. Just someone, please, get me a working trackpad on a PC.
A clutter-free keyboard
Oh how I envy the keyboards found on Macs and it’s not really the tactile sensation, either. It’s that the keyboard doesn’t have anything extra added. Out of the ten PC notebooks I have right now, there aren’t two the same. Each one has random media controls along with slightly different layout schemes. It’s not too much to ask that the very bottom left button be the Ctrl key and delete always be in the top right spot.

I understand that notebook makers want to make their models stand out from the rest and an easy way to do that is with randomly colored media playback buttons. But nobody uses those. (at least no one should use them) If bright media buttons aren’t enough, sometimes a notebook will spice things up with a slightly different keyboard layout that adds, I don’t know, shortcut buttons for email, web browsing, calendar, and whatnot. Once again, silly.

The keyboard and trackpad are some of the most important hardware found on a notebook. It’s how users interact with the device so they should be a top priority, but yet it seems only Apple invests significant resources in their development.

I’m not switching back to OS X from Windows 7 anytime soon. It’s my OS of choice now partly because it runs great on the huge range of inexpensive, but yet very capable PC notebooks available from every manufacturer. None of the items I listed here are that big of a deal that to cause me to switch back, but I hope that a few PC manufacturers realize that Apple’s attention to the small things is what defines its identity. There comes a point when selling products that are just good enough stops working. GM and Chrysler know a little about that.

Be sure to read the other side in John’s The Three PC Features I Want On My Next Mac article.