Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mac vs. Windows, part 1: Price

Macworld has a story from PC World's James Martin comparing prices of Macs vs. Windows laptops.

Bottom line from the article: Mac prices are "on par" with PC prices, in 2 of 3 giving the nod to the Macs (the exception being the high-end, very specifically targeted MacBook Air)

What James doesn't mention, however, is that all the Mac models are fairly high-end machines, with Firewire, Bluetooth, webcam, and wireless internet all built in. So comparable PCs tend to be higher priced since the target market isn't as price sensitive.

Now, say you're just looking for a little laptop to do gmail and web browsing -- all you really need is a browser and a wireless card. Go to, configure a home/home office laptop, Inspiron, jet black, 2 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Vista (yuck) home edition, 80 GB drive, no webcam, cheap battery, McAfee Security Center (36 months, never buy a Windows PC without security software!), MS Works, (my goodness, what is all this stuff they're trying to sell me?! colored mice, bags, colored headphones, extra software, speakers, hard drives, hubs, adapters, routers, remotes, online backups, argh!), add to checkout, and ...

Blat. Irritating.

Anyway, supposedly the price was $598. Cheapest Mac laptop? Make that a refurbished (I bought one!) Macbook at $949.

What? $350 more for a refurbished machine? (And new is another $150 on top of that).

See, a case where PCs are a lot cheaper than Macs.

So if you have exactly $598 + tax to spend, have a reasonably saavy anybody to help you set it up, and are sure that web browsing is the only thing you want to do on your new computer, go nuts. Some people want to think of their computer the same way they think of their toaster, and that's fine.

On the other hand, a fellow from work in his late 60s came to me and asked what kind of computer to buy. I asked what he wanted to do, and he said, web browsing, email, pictures, and writing papers -- and since he wasn't that computer "saavy" he didn't want to have to futz with the machine to make it work. Given that I've *never* not-futzed with a PC to make it work, I suggested he look into the Mac...

6 months later I called him to ask about work stuff, and asked if he'd gotten a computer yet.

"Oh yes!" he said, "I got a Mac."

"What do you think?"

"I love it!"

... then went on to tell me how he set it up without any help and about how he got his vacation pictures up on the internet, etc.*

My bottom line: you can't get a Mac as cheap as you can get a PC, but similarly configured PCs are comparable in price to the Macs, but the value on the Mac is a lot higher.

* ... and I was so happy I didn't have to interrupt him to ask, "You did get your anti-virus software installed, right?" =)


Anonymous said...

mmm, yes but for that $598 +tax you end up with a Dell. I'd never recommend anyone buy a dell - steer clear of that junk.

bryan said...

I used to do IT work for a dotcom in San Francisco, and some of the stories from our Dell users were hilarious. "Uh, I had just typed the word 'Windows' and smoke started pouring out of the back of my computer!" or "All of the sudden my 'j' key stopped working. The other keys were fine. Then 't' stopped working."

Does anyone read this thing?

views since Feb. 9, 2008