to my computer search questions. The responses (here and on my Facebook) have been overwhelmingly pro-Mac, so I'm going to see if I can carve out some time to get back to the Apple store at the mall, try to play with it a little bit more. I think I can swing it, moneywise, if I go for the mid-range version of the Macbook Pro, rather than the high-end one. (And, really? I do not need, nor would I like, a 17" screen.) So I'm going to go play with the 15"-ers and see how that works out. I'm glad to know that the OS is easy to learn: I have no doubts that it's easier once you know it, so my real concern has been, knowing nothing about it, how long will it take me to figure it out? But I've been doing more research (Hello: I'm NTE, Chronic-over-researcher, nice to meet you), and I think it seems do-able.
The only remaining cons are program-wise: that most of my files are in Office format, and that I don't have Mac Photoshop, which is one of my preferred tools for photo-editing, but I think I can get around that if I have to (either by fixing what I think is currently wrong with the old laptop, and using it specifically for that, or installing it on Mum's netbook and saving up files that I want to 'shop). So, I think I'm a Mac, and I'm going to go play with one tomorrow or Monday, just to be sure. I'm already searching for good deals (which are much harder to come back with the Macs, unfortunately) so that I can buy it ASAP.
Thanks for all your advice: Personal experiences count for a lot, when it comes to stuff like this. I think what tips the scales for me is the customer service... HP customer service has been really hit or miss (and mostly miss) for five years; I need something I can rely on, and the Genius Bar gets high marks for helpfulness.
So, barring something unexpected, I should order my new computer this week: pretty exciting!