MS Office for Mac 2019 (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Entourage) or iWork
QuickSilver (freeware launcher that makes using the computer a breeze)
1Password (encrypts and securely stores your passwords - also available for iPhone/iPad)
Little Snitch (lets you know if a program tries to "phone home")
Toast Titanium (allows you to burn multi-session CD-RW's and DVD's - the same company makes Nero for Windows)
AppZapper (allows you to completely remove apps and their associated pref and extra files)
Transmit (allows you to upload multiple files to your webserver/site)
Adobe Photoshop CS (the ultimate Photo/Graphics package out there)
BBEdit / TacoHTML (a "Super TextEdit" that colour codes html text for easy editing for websites)
PopChar (menubar app that allows you to find all keystrokes)
The Unarchiver (free unzip utility for OS X)
UnRarX (free unrar utility for OS X)
Many of these apps have common Windows alternatives so you can pretty much do anything you want regardless of PC type.
In terms of hardware, any of the Macbooks are fine and great for portability but the higher spec MacBook Pros tend to be better value for money, offering faster CPUs for only slightly more cash.
OS - MacOS (née OS X) is still a fantastic operating system, offering users a deep level of control over their GUI as well as providing rock hard stability with systems that are pretty much virus and crash proof. In fact, in the 20 odd years I have used them I have yet to install a single anti-virus app on the system - they're simply immune unlike Windows which always requires something in the background taking up system resources like Windows Defender. Not only that but workflow is made much easier with the likes of screenshots being configurable and built in (whole screen/focussed window/manual), HandOff making life easier when continuing work on other devices (Windows has nothing like this), being able to make and take phone calls/FaceTime video calls/messages etc etc on my laptop (nothing like this on Windows), TimeMachine backups (saved my work on more than a few occasions), AirDrop making sharing ideas and files a breeze (again, nothing like this natively on Windows), the common sense idea of having system info in the menubar above along with the open app's menus but quick access apps you've chosen and open apps separately populating the dock below - unlike Windows which tries to cram most of these things into the system bar at the bottom (a GUI nightmare especially when you have many apps), all the way to the OS quietly reminding you of a big update every now and then (2-3 months-ish) unlike Windows which seems to notify you of anything and everything no matter how insignificant 1000x a day (and no I don't want to turn critical notifications off completely - I just want them to be more intelligently organised resulting in fewer of them)....I mean I could go on and on. Unfortunately despite being nearly 2 decades old, Windows has still been hopelessly unable to catch up, always being a good few steps behind Macintosh' iterations and excellent GUI. This also extends to the fantastic installation process (simply drag and drop the app into applications) and uninstallation process (simply drag and drop the app into the trash) for most apps which to this day Windows cannot come close to with it's tedious installation/deinstallation/reboot procedures.
So where is the issue I hear you ask? Well Apple's long term goal appears to be unifying their OS X and iOS systems. Now whereas that would be great if they ended up "upping" the standard of iOS to match OS X's depth and stability, I get the feeling they'll simply "dumb down" OS X to the level of iOS instead (don't get me wrong, iOS is an excellent OS for a mobile device but hopelessly inadequate for desktop/laptop workspaces imo).
Software - Following on from this, it means the higher usability OS X apps may simply start getting phased out as Apple starts providing us with iOS apps for use in their main desktop/laptop operating system (which is why they wish to unify their CPU architecture - see below). In fact, they themselves have already started gradually degrading their own software - getting rid of Aperture, FCPX now so complicated it's eclipsed by Sony Vegas and Adobe Premier, now removing iTunes etc etc. It's got to the point where there is no 3rd party mac only software that can't be replicated by other offerings on Windows, meaning there's no incentive to buy a Mac based on software any more - whatever you can do on one you can do on the other.
Hardware - Here is the biggest problem Apple have and they're doing it to themselves. Now people used to erroneously believe that Mac's were needlessly expensive but that wasn't true when speccing up a Windows laptop to the same spec (i.e. same high quality components and capacities) - in fact the Windows version usually ended up being £200 more expensive...but this all stopped after October 2011. What we've had since 2012 is a steady decline of the genius and usability of Apple designs:
Magsafe connector? Gone,
Useable ports? Gone - I don't want a slim lightweight laptop that forces me to lug around a rucksack full of dongles, thanks,
Tactile function keys? Gone - replaced with a poor gimmick that actually takes away from the usability of the USER interface,
Decent airflow to prevent thermal throttling? Nope,
Decent Keyboard? Gone - my mid-2014 MBP I'd rate at 7/10 but the new butterfly one is truly awful - 1/10,
Matte screen? Gone,
Price? I used to spend about £2000 for a top of the range MBP to last me 4-5yrs, currently the top spec is £4000 - what?
Keeping up with the rest of the world and offering 4k OLED displays? Nope, not on the laptops which top out with 2.5k LCD screens
N.B. should be lower case = latin for 1000 (kilo), hence 4k = 4000 lines, whereas 4K = 4 Kelvin = -269.15℃ and I don't know of any displays this cold !
Better Processors? Gone - or due to go. Apple wants to unify their hardware and software, meaning they're planning on getting rid of x86 based intel chips and will likely switch to their own Ax ARM chips within the next few years. I was already caught out by them previously when buying an expensive PPC MBP and 6 months later Apple switching wholesale to Intel, so I'm not falling for that again (why spend the price of a small car only to have it rendered obselete after a year or two?).
So Apple used to make the best desktops and laptops out there (better OS, better available software and better hardware) but as I suspected, since 2012 they have been in steady decline (still better OS but same available software with worse hardware). Their mobile offerings with iOS are still better than the Android equivalents imho, so I will continue to buy their iPads and iPhones, but maybe it's time to say goodbye to this once great company w.r.t. workstations? In order to match the current top spec MBP as of mid-2019, I would need the following:
9thgen i9-9980HK (45W), 32GB 2400MHz RAM, 1TB SSD, 2.5K 15.6" LCD, 84Wh batt, Vega20 (pretty much equal to GTX1650mobile)
I've actually found a couple of Windows laptops which provide a superior spec at a similar price whilst retaining a slim form factor:
9thgen i9-9980HK (45W), 64GB/32Gb 2666MHz RAM, 1TB/2x512GB SSD, 4K 15.6" OLED, 94Wh batt, RTX2080maxQ/RTX2070maxQ
Not only this but the keyboards have better tactile feedback, there's no gimmicky touch bar, the ports provided are actually useful (mix of USB-C/Thunderbolt and USB3 along with HDMI and SD Readers for example) and they also have numeric keypads on the right hand side which, for mac, is only found on their full sized standalone keyboards.
Luckily, if I do switch to windows I can get the Windows equivalent of any OS X software (and vice versa if you're switching the other way) over at Alternative To but whilst I'm still undecided, I'll continue updating the tips above as I create new ones.