Apples to Apples

This week Apple held the WWDC conference that so many bloggers have been excited about for weeks. Apple changed the lineup for their core hardware laptops and did some deep price discounts to make some of the new and older but refreshed models look more appealing. It's working.

One of the big sticking points that Microsoft and PC makers have had in their marketing is the price point of Apple - the so-called "Apple Tax." One of the bigger problems with considering a Mac vs. a Dell or other brand of Windows PC is generally how much more expensive a Mac is than say an entry level desktop or laptop. That point that Microsoft has tried to make so clear is becoming less powerful now. The prices of the MacBook Pro line dropped significantly, and they revamped one of their staple MacBook models (the 13") into a top-end machine with the same power and specs (including firewire) as the high-end models. At $1200 it's hard not to pull the trigger on such a cool little machine.

Right now with the market being so bad, and gas prices apparently rising precipitously again ($2.69/gallon at stations near my house this morning), technology and gadget makers know that to keep the eye of the consumers, they need to trim a little off their profit margins. High end laptops and computers have pretty significant markup - generally you can assume that a laptop costs about 1/2 what the retail price for it is... but that's going to have to change if computer makers want to stay in business.

I've tried Windows 7, in virtual machines and on a separate homebuilt PC. While it's nicer than XP and Vista - it still feels clunky. There are too many options, too many preference windows, and a lack of consistency in the functionality of some of the same types of programs. While I believe many people will be happy to see the Win7 OS for their PCs, with Apple charging a measly $29/user for an upgrade to Snow Leopard and only $129 for those who don't have the latest 10.5 Mac OS X... Anything that Microsoft charges is going to be way too much. Their "Apple Tax" argument may likely blow up in their face when people start calling Windows 7 the "Microsoft Tax."


  1. I've been thinking about buying a new computer for years. In fact, the last computer I bought was a Walmart Black Friday special running Windows ME. Needless to say, I'm not using that one now, but every computer I've had since has been a scrap-bin rescue. I had one built from extra parts laying around a friend's workshop, and I'm now using one discarded as my father upgraded to a new machine. That upgrade was in 2004. This thing came with XP, 256 RAM and a 40G HDD. I've since added 1G of RAM and a 160G internal HDD and a 500G external. I'm quite certain that Crysis would never run on this computer, but Chrome and Office run just fine...and that's all I ever use.

    I honestly don't understand what's driving the sales industry for computers for most people. My dad buys a new computer every couple of years because he's a PC gamer. Me, I'd rather buy the next console. In fact, what I really want is for the next console I buy to have a wireless keyboard and mouse and the ability to connect to applications in the ether. Add integration for my camera and my digital music device, and I'll never use a desktop again.

    I'm kind of sick of the entire industry knowing that the slower, cheaper chips are really just the faster, more expensive chips with bits disabled. As for Windows vs. Mac, after using both, it's hard not to be jaded. They do the SAME THINGS with relatively the same performance and only a slightly different user experience to someone like me who doesn't care about the extras. As soon as Apple un-tethers their operating system from their hardware and lets me install it on my Compaq from 2004 for cheaper than Windows 7, I'll be happy to take a look...assuming either of them would run better than XP does on this geriatric computer.

  2. Your best bet, if you're looking for performance on an older machine, is go with Ubuntu. Surprisingly, the newest version (9.04) has some of the best hardware compatibility I've ever seen in any Linux distro. It's actually easier to install on a barebones, store-bought, Dell, Compaq or HP branded machine.

    I highly recommend giving the install disk a whirl ( You just burn the ISO. You can actually install Ubuntu as though it's a "Program" on your Windows XP machine, and you will have the choice which one (XP or Ubuntu) you want to use on bootup. If you don't want Ubuntu, you simply uninstall it from Windows, and it's gone. If you want to go all the way, reformating drives, and converting from the standard "My Documents" structure to a better organization of files and folders, Ubuntu is the way to go. Seriously, if you want to spend a day hanging out, we can do a full machine conversion (files and everything) to Ubuntu in a couple of hours.

    I'd suggest trying it out from the Live CD a few times and get a feel for it. Once you get the hang of it, believe me, you'll swear you have a new computer - that's how much of a performance leap it is over XP.


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