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Mac Tax, Dell Tax, HP Tax 858

Posted by kdawson
from the get-what-you-pay-for dept.
Harry writes "Microsoft's new Windows ad, with shopper Lauren buying a cheap 17-inch HP laptop instead of a $2,800 MacBook Pro, has unleashed the whole 'Are Macs Expensive?' debate again. I'm diving in with a pretty exhaustive comparison of the MacBook Pro against machines from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sony that were as comparably configured as I could manage. The conclusion: High-end laptops tend to carry high-end prices, whether their operating system hails from Cupertino or Redmond. And the MacBook Pro wasn't the priciest of the systems I compared." We looked at this question, not in as much depth, a couple of years back.
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Mac Tax, Dell Tax, HP Tax

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  • Upgrading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpectreBlofeld (886224) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:07PM (#27404885)

    Ever priced a stick or two of RAM from Apple?

    I know it doesn't affects us geeks, but it'll give Grandma a heart attack.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      This just in: Buying from the manufacture cheaper then going with someone else.
      Your news is sure to rock the automotive world.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bloodninja (1291306)

        This just in: Buying from the manufacture cheaper then going with someone else.
        Your news is sure to rock the automotive world.

        Buying replacement wipers for my 2007 Ford Focus cost half as much at the Ford dealer than it did anywhere else. Surprised me too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by chris462 (656034)
      Apple's prices are inline with the compeition on RAM upgrades these days.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        That's true. I was checking out prices for an upgrade from Crucial for a MacBook Pro. To my surprise, I found that just ordering the configuration I wanted from Apple would be cheaper.

        Disk prices, on the other hand....

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sgent (874402)
          I think he meant buying HP branded ram is about the same as buying Apple branded ram. Both computers can use generic ram -- and if you have the slightest technical ability you'd be an idiot to order ram from either OEM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by __NR_kill (1018116)

      Who has the time to read so much text to get convinced a Mac could be cheaper??
      Personally, I don't have the time tu submit to this kind of convincing.
      If I was an average Joe, I would be convinced enough by M$'s simple ad. Deal with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      I know it doesn't affects us geeks, but it'll give Grandma a heart attack.

      No she won't. Grandma would likely stick with the default system and anyone close enough to suggest it to her would likely buy it 3rd party and install it for her.

      I'm sure people buy extra ram from Apple (and I wish they lowered their prices overall), but I would venture a guess a big percentage of people have a semi-technical savvy person in the family that steers them otherwise anyway.

      Even for the premium, I know I prefer extended

  • That's fine but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:07PM (#27404895)

    The Apple tax is the lack of variety.
    It isn't that the expensive laptops aren't worth it.
    It's that there is no low cost Macs.

    • by linhares (1241614) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:23PM (#27406173)
      "The Apple tax is the lack of variety." Precisely. Why oh why does a 17incher have to be more expensive than a 13"? That's just an arbitrary decision, with no real reason behind it. Ok, a 1920x1200 display may make it more expensive, but that's just it. In fact, the additional size actually should lower costs, not raise them. For instance, I'm into scientific computation and I want a USD2000 graphics card. Even the mac pro does not offer it. It is sad that Apple really is incapable of seeing itself as mainstream. But the netbooks are sweeping from below, and reality will set in, for better or worse. (Written from a F*cking mac)
    • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:58PM (#27406765) Homepage
      The pricing of Macs is really pretty simple to explain: Apple doesn't make cheap computers. That's "cheap" in the sense of "low price" and in the sense of "low quality". The have a wide range of performance specs available, but none of them are built like crap, which puts a floor on the product pricing. But at just about every level of quality, the price is pretty comparable to equal machines from the competition.

      As for Apple's RAM upgrade pricing... well... yeah, that's a technophobia tax (or an I-can't-be-bothered-to-comparison-shop tax). If you're afraid to DIY, you pay some pretty inexplicable prices for them to upgrade it for you. About the only thing I can say in their defence on this point is that if you go to the Apple Store and you want to buy a machine with more RAM than the units they stock, they'll upgrade it there in the store, and they'll give you full credit (at Apple RAM prices) for the chips they pull out to replace with bigger ones.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GWBasic (900357)

        The pricing of Macs is really pretty simple to explain: Apple doesn't make cheap computers. That's "cheap" in the sense of "low price" and in the sense of "low quality". The have a wide range of performance specs available, but none of them are built like crap, which puts a floor on the product pricing. But at just about every level of quality, the price is pretty comparable to equal machines from the competition.

        That might be true, but there is clearly market demand for a lower-cost version of Apple laptops. For example, they could have a 17" model in the Macbook line in addition to the 17" model in the MacbookPro line. Furthermore, there are a lot of people who find the 13" Macbook fine, except for its tiny monitor. There's no reason that they should have to shell out over $1000 more just to have a larger screen.

  • Where's the MTTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:08PM (#27404907) Journal

    pretty exhaustive comparison

    I don't think it was exhaustive at all. What I feel like I'm buying when I buy a laptop is more than what this article implies. I am buying into a brick of hardware where if one piece fails or becomes obsolete, it might as well be the whole brick. Which is why it surprises me that talk of hard drives (though they are the easiest component to replace) doesn't even list the manufacturer of the drive! How about a Mean Time to Failure (MTTF) of each of the products used? How about even just telling me that all the USB ports are 2.0 (I mean, I'm assuming that but who knows)? And what about the support that comes with each laptop as far as # of updates (BIOS/firmware) issued for the mainboard and all devices?

    High-end laptops tend to carry high-end prices, whether their operating system hails from Cupertino or Redmond.

    Actually I advise people that high end Macs are a tiny bit more expensive than high end other laptops while low end Macs are much more expensive (percentage wise) to low end Dells or HPs. And I think that's better information (and I thought I read that in the article). You usually get what you pay for and I wish the article had done a more thorough analysis of the laptops component by component.

  • Thanks Microsoft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:08PM (#27404911)

    Maybe this will lead Apple to lower their prices a little. That would be great. Cheaper Macs.

    It would be one of the worst possible things that could happen to Microsoft though.

    • Re:Thanks Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KylePflug (898555) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:08PM (#27405909) Homepage

      That would also be one of the worst things that could happen to Apple. The company survives and remains extremely profitable by charging a higher margin, which they use to pay for the development and design work that leads to premium fit and finish and software on all their products (from iPod and iPhone to the computers).

      If Apple comes out with a commodity computer with no such margin, even if it remains technically profitable, it seems to me that it has the serious potential to eviscerate their pocket cash to the point that the design and research will suffer, and then the premium goes away.

      Of course, with the app store practically printing money for them these days, the additional cash flow they already have might make achieving market penetration a more important goal. Time will tell.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:08PM (#27404913)

    ... the question is also, "does Lauren need an expensive notebook."

    Let's say the MacBook CAN justify its $2800 pricetag (i.e., it's not overpriced hardware, it's just good/expensive hardware and a lot of it). Ok, so the question is, is a $2800 laptop necessary? My $1350 dell ($2050 minus $800 deal) has been working for several years now (battery has died, that's about it. It's old enough that it has a dual core Centrino (32 bit processor).

    "Overpriced Mac" can mean more than "the hardware added up doesn't equal the pricetag" ... it can also mean "it's twice as much as you need to spend for what you're going to do with it."

    • mod parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:16PM (#27404999)
      To me on the the biggest issues with Apple is that they don't really offer a full range of configurations. So if for instance somebody wants a mid-range tower they are out of luck. Or a consumer notebook with a big screen. What they do make I think is competitive in those markets. But an expanded lineup would really help.
      • or not. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by captainjaroslav (893479) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:04PM (#27405819)

        The problem with this canard, or at least misconception, is that it takes the notion "I would buy this kind of thing if Apple offered it" (which may or may not be true) and assumes that, therefore, it would be a good business move for Apple to offer that configuration.

        In the mid 90s, Apple had so many product lines and options that you couldn't keep track of them: Classics, Performas, Quadras, whatever. There were Apple-manufactured machines that had two processors for dual-booting, not to mention several brands of clones. (This is another thing that many people still say: "if only Apple would get their head out of their asses and license their OS to other manufacturers, they would increase their market share, blah blah blah...") At that time, it looked like Apple wasn't long for this world.

        After Jobs came back in 1996 (1997? whatever.), the company slowly reined in the product lines and started to concentrate on making a few identifiable, distinct products, with a limited number of options for each. Apple is now a quite successful company, and, while their non-computer products are a large part of this, the company has managed to continue to hang on to, and even expand, its corner of the computer and OS market, a market that is surely stacked against it. Not only that, Apple has become a trendsetter in this market.

        You can bet that there are some pretty savvy financial analysts at Apple who have probably looked at this a lot more closely than you have, and, if they really thought demand was high enough for a mid-range tower, they would make one. I would bet that the average computer user (not the average Slashdot reader, which is something else) never expands their PC past the basic configuration that they bought it with during its lifespan, and, furthermore, doesn't need anything more powerful than what comes with a Mac Mini. The population of customers who need more than a Mac Mini, but less than a Mac Pro (like you) is real, but too small to be profitable for Apple. Apple's success is not based on a shotgun approach but on carefully maximizing the profitability of a small number of product lines.

    • No Mac Tax then (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TrekkieGod (627867) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:32PM (#27405247) Homepage Journal

      Let's say the MacBook CAN justify its $2800 pricetag (i.e., it's not overpriced hardware, it's just good/expensive hardware and a lot of it). Ok, so the question is, is a $2800 laptop necessary?

      That's a good question that everyone should ask, but it has nothing to do with a Mac Tax. It's a "high-end computer tax." If Apple is making a business of only selling high-end computers, that's the market they've chosen, nothing wrong with that. Now if you want to say that macs are overpriced, you need to compare equivalently specs, you can't say, "look, the other company sells a less powerful laptop for cheaper." Of course they do, if their less powerful laptop was more expensive than a high-end computer, everyone would buy high-end computers!

      I also don't really understand why there's all this hate against people who choose to buy high-end computers. It's true that they're not getting the most bang for the buck, but if it weren't for those buyers financing the high performance parts, the mid-range computers wouldn't advance as quickly. Basically, the reason you can get a very fast machine for cheaper today is precisely because of those people who buy the expensive high-end parts. It's the same concept Tesla Motors is trying to leverage. They can't build an affordable electric car, so they build a car for the rich. Those buyers fund the development of the technology and eventually they'll be able to build an affordable electric car.

      If they want them, and can afford them, who are you to tell you they're wrong? Especially when you're indirectly benefiting from their choice.

  • by fayd (143105)

    And how much are the Macs with features compared to the lower priced notebooks? You know, the ones with fewer features that I don't need/want?

  • Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arainach (906420) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:13PM (#27404965)

    The question isn't "what does a comparably specced machine cost". It's "what does a machine that does what I need cost". I can get a $500-700 PC Laptop that will work great for most of my use. I can't touch that with a Mac.

  • by schmiddy (599730) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:14PM (#27404975) Homepage Journal

    I know no one reads the fine articles but does no one really watch the fine videos? Or does everyone here have Silverlight install?

    Would someone be kind enough to post up a non-Silverlight version. Bonus points for a direct link to an open video format (i.e. not flash), but I'm not picky.

  • Rehash... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:15PM (#27404987)

    Haven't we all reached the conclusion that:
    a) no, Macs are not significantly more expensive than PCs
    and
    b) there are far fewer hardware configurations available such that when you take any one premium feature and then try to go bargain hunting on other features, Macs will be significantly more expensive.

    If you want a laptop with a 17" screen, 512M RAM and a 60G HD, suddenly you're comparing an $800 PC against a $2700 MBP since Apple doesn't make a computer with a 17" screen and less than 2G RAM. But if you actually want all the stuff in the 17" MBP, a comparable PC won't be all that differently priced.

    Long story short, buying a Mac forces you to upgrade in areas that you may not need whereas buying a PC allows you to save money on any component of the system that is less important to you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tixxit (1107127)

      a) no, Macs are not significantly more expensive than PCs and

      I don't know about that. My fiance is looking for a Mac right now. Their low-end MacBook is $1150 CDN for a laptop that has, suprisingly, almost exactly the same configuration as my (nearly) 2 year old Lenovo Thinkpad I got for $1250. Mine also came with a 3 year warranty. For the same price, you can get a significantly better hardware with another manufacturer. Yes, in the high-end, all computers are expensive, but I am talking about the $1000-$1500 range.

    • Re:Rehash... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:51PM (#27405581)

      a) no, Macs are not significantly more expensive than PCs

      $1600 Dell:
      http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/913148 [fatwallet.com]

      • Intel® Core(TM) 2 Duo T8300 (2.4GHz/800Mhz FSB/3MB cache)
      • 4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz
      • 500GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
      • DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW Drive)
      • NVIDIA® SLI(TM) Dual GeForce® 9800M GT with 1GB GDDR3 Memory
      • 85 WHr Lithium Ion Battery (9-cell)
      • 17 inch UltraSharp TrueLife Wide-screen WUXGA (1920x1200)

      $2800 MacBook Pro:
      http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MB604LL/A?mco=MzA3MTE3NA [apple.com]

      • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
      • 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
      • 320GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
      • Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M + Discrete NVIDIA 9600GT
      • SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
      • MacBook Pro 17-inch Hi-Resolution Glossy Widescreen Display (1920x1200)

      You can keep trying to peddle that nonsense, but I think most /.ers are capable of comparing $1600 and $2800 and coming to their own conclusions. It's not even a close call.

      • Re:Rehash... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KylePflug (898555) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:22PM (#27406161) Homepage

        Christ, when is this nonsense going to end? Yes, Macs are expensive. Perhaps unreasonably so. But that is not an honest comparison.

        This crowd has gotten so upset with gigabytes and clock speeds that we've forgotten the most literal definition of hardware. So lets glance at some actual hardware specs:

        Dell: 10.6 pounds, 2 inches thick.
        Mac: 6.6 pounds, 1 inch thick (also noticeable less deep and wide for the same screen size).

        It's not the glowing apple you are paying for, it's the fact that the Mac is literally HALF the size.

        Other important considerations; the Apple has an 8 hour battery life and an extended-longevity battery, the Dell has a 1.5 battery life. The Apple also has OSX, backlit keyboard, vastly superior fit and finish, and a range of other benefits.

        Again, expensive? Yes. Too expensive (at least for the general consumer)? Certainly not unlikely.

        But the Apple is half the weight, half the thickness, 4x the battery life, and vastly superior in build quality and user experience. These are the things that are important in a notebook computer. You might as well compare a beige tower to the Apple in this instance. You're right - it's not even a close call.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ezelkow1 (693205)
      To go along with the previous posts. I was shopping a year ago for a laptop, and got a Dell that had the exact same specs as the current top of the line MBP but the dell had better graphics and a larger hdd, all for half the price of the MBP. Apple never offers discounts while all the other manufacturers do. These comparisons are horrible because they assume the shopper is a retard and wont be willing to wait a few weeks for a 200-800$ off coupon to pop up.
    • Re:Rehash... (Score:4, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @02:19PM (#27406105) Homepage Journal

      Score 5 informative? No, not informative. Simply wrong.

      A 15.4 inch Dell Latitude E6500 with the same 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo as the 15" Macbook Pro, an NVidia Quadro NVS 160M (a much higher end card than the 9600 that comes with the MBP), 2GB of RAM and a 250G SATA disk with a freefall sensor goes for $1229, right now on Dell's website.

      The equivalent Macbook Pro is over $2000.

      If you don't believe me, go check Apple and Dell yourself.

  • Flawed process? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:15PM (#27404989) Homepage Journal

    The way most of these comparisons work is that they take the feature set of the most expensive laptop and start there as a base point, or start at the most feature rich, like this review did. I've seen the commercial in question and the girl/actress/whatever had two requirements: a 17 inch screen and a sub thousand dollar price. Say what you will about that but that seems like a pretty common way to start shopping. Sure, the Macbook Pro is $2800 (?!) but I'm sure it has a ton of stuff she's simply not interested or aware of. The general public likes cheap computers, and I personally think it's a pretty effective ad.

    It would be nice if they could have had a longer version where she's in the Apple store and finds her 17" laptop but not at the price she wants.

    Effective ad for me, but it's personally not going to influence any of my purchases. I buy most of my stuff off Craigslist (17 inchers for under $100? yum - that's what she said).

    • by iangoldby (552781)

      they take the feature set of the most expensive laptop and start there as a base point... [but] the actress had two requirements: a 17 inch screen and a sub thousand dollar price.

      So the MacBook doesn't qualify. But there is a difference between expensive and poor value.

      What this review did was perfectly correct - they baselined the specification and compared prices of similar machines. Any other way and you just get into pointless value judgements about whether this feature or that feature is worth the ext

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      The general public likes cheap computers

      You've pretty much nailed why Apple doesn't sell them. The effort involved with selling commodity hardware is as great or greater than the effort involved selling premium hardware - and yet the margins are lower. They simply don't want that business.

  • It's not so much their relative price, it's that they offer such a constrained selection compared to PC's. I can buy a PC laptop or desktop at almost any price point (and get my money's worth). With Apple, I can buy a Mac Mini--or a very expensive desktop (little middle ground). And I don't think Apple even MAKES a netbook. It's pretty much right to the expensive stuff if you want an Apple laptop.
  • by iamhigh (1252742) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:16PM (#27405011)

    We look at this question, not in as much depth, on nearly every Mac story.

    Fixed that for you.

    • by spotter (5662) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:37PM (#27405323)

      Dells, HPs, Lenovos..... they all go on sale for significant discounts.

      Do Macs? Not from my experience.

      I can buy a souped up T series lenovo laptop for probably around half the price of an equivalent macbook (in the 1250-1500 range vs. 2500-3000 range for the macbook pro.

      And one can get features in the T series that apple just doesn't think there's any market for (such as the old T42p I'm currently typing on that had a 15" 4x3 lcd w/ 1600x1200). Try to find any mac that has anything approaching that pixel density.

  • I did not RTFA but from the summary it sounds like the conclusion is that the Macbook Pro is worth the money or at least comparable to other high end notebooks. That's nice, but it doesn't really offer an explanation as to why Apple hasn't entered the $500-1000 market. I cannot imagine the staggering marketshare they would gain with a laptop that a majority of parents could afford their college bound kid. Anyone got any insights into Apple's complete disinterest in the mid-range notebook market?
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Anyone got any insights into Apple's complete disinterest in the mid-range notebook market?

      If they start to appear common, they lose their hip mystique and can't charge as much for the higher-end models. And to be fair, I'm regurgitating something I've read on /. a bajillion times, so it's not my insight.

  • So a NVIDIA Quadro FX 2700M is the nearest he could get to a 9600M GT on the Dell site?

    "I didn't want anyone to be able to accuse me of rigging my research, consciously or unconsciously, to make Apple look good."

    Sorry, that's exactly the way it looks to me.

  • by goltzc (1284524) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:18PM (#27405041)
    It's part of Apple's strategy. They offer hardware that makes their machines operate at a level that they find acceptable. HP, Dell etc. build machines at price points that they think will sell.

    I know I'll spark off a debate on this one but you never hear folks complaining that Macs are slow. Part of that is likely to do with OSX but the other part has just as much to do with the fact that Macs are NEVER sold under powered.

    On the other hand we have PC manufacturers selling dirt cheap machines that "run" Vista but not well. If those same manufacturers only sold machines that ran their intended software well, the price point comparison would be pretty moot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      There are other factors, as well... Support and Configuration.

      In the last two weeks, I have spent multiple days and nights trying to get my partners new HP notebook to talk to an HP LaserJet 2840 all-in-one machine. The HP software for the HP host to communicate with the HP scanner just does not work. Some similar hardware or network or software compatibility issue soaks up a whole week every few months.

      By comparison, my current Apple MacBook Pro has had zero difficulty. Zero. Nada. Each new thing jus

  • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:19PM (#27405055) Homepage

    Giving the Apple a point for "construction" seems a little dubious to me. There's no doubt that the fancy aluminum shell on the Mac is much sturdier than my all plastic Dell from work, but my Dell laptop seems to stand up just fine to the rigors I put it through. If the Mac were made of aircraft grade aluminum, would it be even better? Not really.

    Giving a "point" to Apple for Firewire seems equally dubious. Most consumers who are choosing between a PC laptop and a Mac likely don't know what FireWire is, and the other laptops all HAVE a FireWire port, just a slower one. FireWire 800 is a "feature" that very few people need.

    The point to Apple for "sound" is perhaps most dubious of all, since the Sony has some slick specs in this department as well.

    Methinks the TFA is slightly biased.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by petehead (1041740)
      Don't forget that the Apple construction also provides free thigh burns. That's an extra point, I think.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285)
      The Apple machines are not really base consumer machines. They are either small business home office machines or high level consumer machines. People who feel they need or want this machine are going to pay for it. People who don't won't.

      One comparison is the Nikon Camera. Some will buy buy a D300 for $1,500. They will want the features, and have the skill to use them. Some will want the D80 because of the simplicity and the fact that it is plastic and lighter. Even a D80, at $400, is pricier than

  • by rtilghman (736281) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:19PM (#27405057)

    News at 11.

    Whether you want to say Apple doesn't make notebooks most people can afford or they're notebooks are too expensive in general, it's essentially a wash.

    Also, the entire basis for this comparison is wrong... as the ad shows, it has nothing to do with the "exact" features. Consumers look for a couple key features and operate "within a market." If you want the real take-away here it's that Apple either a) doesn't understand the market they're targeting with the 13" macbook or b) is purposely trying to drive people to the more expensive machine. Either way, they don't have a product that meets what I think you can safely say is the "vast majority" of US consumers.

    Personally I just hate the "I know what's good for you" Apple mantra. I be surprised if more /.ers wouldn't agree given the fact that Apple is essentially the antithesis of open source.

    -rt

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 77Punker (673758)

      Apple is essentially the antithesis of open source.

      CUPS makes printing on Unix-style systems far easier. CUPS came from Apple and is open source.

      Also, don't forget about Darwin(GNU Mach) and Webkit(KHTML). They actually do give back to these things once in a while.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        CUPS came from Apple and is open source.

        Nonsense, CUPS was open source before Apple. Apple liked the technology but not the GNU license. First they negotiated with the developer to grant an exemption for OS X. Eventually they bought the rights to it. Now as the copyright holder they can do whatever they like in their own products. Anyone else is bound by the GNU licensing.
  • by burnin1965 (535071) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:21PM (#27405071) Homepage

    So is it an ad for Windows or Silverlight?

    What is the point of putting out an ad to sell a product if you limit your market to those who are already using your product? Are they simply trying to stop the bleeding of market share?

    Yeah, I know, there are ways to view the ad without buying Windows, no thanks.

  • Initial investment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qoncept (599709) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:23PM (#27405101) Homepage
    I don't take anyone questioning whether Macs are expensive seriously. They are, period. Getting the same specs on a Dell may cost the same/nearly as much, but you* can get a laptop that has everything you need for far less than you can get any Mac. The difference is resale value. Look at ebay. A 1 year old iMac with upgraded memory often sells, used, for what it cost new. A year old PC is relatively worthless.

    The point? The cost of ownership over 10 years for a Mac vs PC is a whole lot more comparable than the up front cost. You may not have an extra PC laying around a year later after you buy your Mac, but you can upgrade to this-year's-model for next to nothing if you are willing to sell your Mac.

    * You being most people
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Archimonde (668883)

      To be honest, I don't quite get your point. What is the point in selling a year old computer? It sounds like a waste of money and time buying a new one. Secondly, 5 or 10 year old computer (mac or a "pc") is pretty much worthless. It doesn't really matter if you get 50 or 80 for them. I just never understood people who would gladly pay say 20% more on a new $product1 and so they can sell it 5+ years later for 10% more than the compared $product2. The problem is that both products are worth just a fraction o

  • That line where she said that between the two computers, the design of the HP was "drawing her in" sent a shiver down my spine. I can't tell you the number of times I've argued with a friend/neighbor/spouse that looks don't matter in a computer. Usability matters. Easy-to-read screen, comfortable keyboard, good specs, etc, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437)

      If you actually argued that I'd say you're a bit naive. Looks matter to everything where people decided that they do. For most things, an object is quite often (almost always)) not merely about it's function, unless you never see it (I don't think many people care about how their home water heater looks, but you can bet they care about how their stove looks).

      To suggest that this is magically not important to most people because you don't deem it to be so personally is just ridiculous.

  • by THotze (5028) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:28PM (#27405183) Homepage

    I've been a Mac user for 6 years now, and have loved every machine I've purchased. Having said that, I'm a certain kind of user who matches the machines that Apple sells. I want mid- to mid-high range hardware, capable of pretty extensive multitasking (which, in my experience, works better under OS X than Windows), and the ability to do graphics design and layout (I admit, this was much more hardware-constrained in 2003 than it is now). Macs are a pretty good fit for the featureset that I want, and are price-competitive with Windows boxes.

    HOWEVER in the ad, Lauren wants a machine with a certain amount of raw horsepower, a keyboard she likes (which, with Apple, is either entirely true or entirely not) and a 17" screen. That could mean a wide variety of machines -- processor architectures, memory, integrated or discreet graphics -- but Apple, when you want a 17" laptop, assumes you're a higher-end user, that wants a very well engineered battery, a lot of horsepower, a fast dual-core CPU, etc. etc.

    Lauren doesn't. She doesn't want a lot of those things. She just wants a computer with a 17" screen. Apple doesn't sell the machine she wants -- but because there's at least 3 or 4 PC brands at any Best Buy, she can walk in and get what she wants for a fraction of what Apple sells it for.

    It's a question of mapping: the goal isn't to take an APPLE to start with then compare it to the price of a similar PC; instead, it's to take a PC you want, and asking if there EVEN IS a similar Mac -- in a lot of cases, there just won't be.

    • Yep (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      This has always been a big problem I've had with Apple, and Apple comparisons, is that Apple doesn't sell what I want. I either have to get much more or much less, there's nothing at the level I want.

      In my case, it is a mid range tower. I have a Core 2 Quad system at home and it is precisely what I want. A single quad core processor (was a dual until recently) a very high end consumer video card, and so on. Basically I want a good amount of power, but not excessive, for a reasonable price. I don't want prof

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PDoc (841773)

      It's a question of mapping: the goal isn't to take an APPLE to start with then compare it to the price of a similar PC; instead, it's to take a PC you want, and asking if there EVEN IS a similar Mac -- in a lot of cases, there just won't be.

      That's a damned good point, and the main reason that I'm typing this reply on a [somewhere between eight years, or one month old - depending on how one measures it] custom box. By most measures, it would be described as mid-range, and I'd love to own a mid-range mac. Except, not stuffed into the back on my monitor, because it's nice to be able to improved the video card every-so-often. Or disconnect the 'display size' from from other performance metrics. That mid-range mac has been missing-in-action for

  • by sootman (158191)

    "Microsoft's new Windows ad... has unleashed the whole 'Are Macs Expensive?' debate again."

    It has? I thought intelligent people figured this out years ago. If you compare comparably-specced machines, Macs are usually in the neighborhood. If you want a stripped-down machine, which Apple doesn't offer, then the next closest Mac is usually higher. If you want a form factor that Apple doesn't make (tablet, netbook, etc.) you're SOL. Did I miss anything?

  • It has always been a mantra of people that think about these things that a given PC laptop will be worth at least [the initial price delta] LESS in 2 years than a comparably (as much as possible) configured Mac.

    Meaning:

    $600 (when new) PC laptop is worth maybe $200 after 2 years. $1000 (when new) MacBook is worth at lest $600 after that same 2 years.

    If you believe that (And I do, personally.. based on Ebay prices of used laptops), then the whole thing is a wash.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:31PM (#27405229) Homepage Journal

    Let's rile them up some more: I've owned four laptops in the last ten years, from IBM, Toshiba, HP, and Apple.

    The Macbook Pro was the most expensive, has the worst LCD viewing angle, has the worst speakers, is the only one that overheats if you use it with the lid closed, and the only one to have a battery go all 'splody in slow motion. I also had to reflash the power management firmware because it stop charging due to a bug in the previous version. I don't care how much or how little they cost, I'm never making that mistake again.

    • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzachNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:43PM (#27405443) Homepage
      For a while, Apple had the best of the best in laptop. Now...I don't think so so much. Particularly the MacBook Pro line has had issues that should never have existed.
    • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:08PM (#27407913)

      Well your milage may vary. I used to buy Sony laptops, and my office uses Dell and for a time Gateway laptops.

      I purchased a 15" Macbook Pro three years ago to replace my comparably priced Sony laptop that died while I was out in the field. I have not had a single issue with my laptop. It has logged over 44000 miles of being tossed in a satchel, thrown in the back of a car, and used at many locations. I spent more months than I care to admit using it in the middle of nowhere in the fine state of New Mexico, and I used it while outside during hot and extremely humid days on the gulf coast. My laptop has operated at a variety of temperature and humidity levels. This is my one and only personal computer and it's been on almost constantly during the past three years.

      If my laptop failed today, I would immediately buy another one from Apple. This laptop has lasted a year longer than my similarly priced Sony laptop.

      During the same 3 year period, some of my friends and colleagues replace their much younger Dell laptops because they failed prematurely. My sister's Dell laptop is a little over a year and a half old, and she's looking at replacing a $250 battery. Most of my non-apple work laptops stay in the office because either they're now too slow (hard drive issues), the plastic clam shell case is broken, or the cheap ass hinges they use have failed.

      In addition, my boss still uses his 12" powerbook, and pretty much all the Apple users where I work are not only happy with their current Apple computers, but continue to purchase Apple computers for themselves or their interns (much to the dismay of our Windows centric IT department).

      I believe the reason Dell has been more troublesome for my friends and family is the fact that Dell tries to fit as many features as possible to make the laptop look good in a print ad while using the cheapest parts available to meet a price point that their marketing department determine that people are willing to pay.

      But like I said, your milage may vary.

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:38PM (#27405347)

    In my experience, Macs are priced by Apple and rarely discounted much until they are EOLed for the next generation. Sometimes Microcenter or Macmall has $100 off or something like that.

    Dell, on the other hand, changes their pricing and offers more often than I change my socks. I've found that you can get killer deals on them if you are willing to wait a few weeks until a deal rolls around. For instance (now expired), there were great deals for 17" laptops at 30-40% off what TFA paid:

    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/913148 [fatwallet.com]
    http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/912911 [fatwallet.com]

    Of course, if you are incapable of that kind of patience, preferring instant gratification, then Dell is more than willing to charge you a lot more if you are foolish enough to just go to dell.com and start clicking on things. [ Slightly OT Side Story: Ever since my boss found out that I know how to work the magic dell website, I've earned huge brownie points for buying the same equipment at basically half the great educational rates offered to my university. Actually, at one point I accosted the school's Dell Rep with a printout of the various orders I put in through Dell Home and asked if they would give an educational institution the same deals available to everyone -- no points for guessing the answer. ]

    Bottom line: Dell's prices are volatile and the author of TFA is totally clueless on how to best work that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by martinX (672498)

      I may lose points for this, but Dell offers too much choice.

      I'm a Mac guy who is buying a Windows-based laptop and I find the Dell site damned confusing to get around. There are too many options, too many tiny variations on a theme.

      Honestly, who knows the difference between an Intel WiFi Link 5300 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-card and an Intel WiFi Link 5100 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-card. Dell's little "? Help Me Choose" popup was no help at all. It didn't mention these products at all, but made vague references

  • I'm a Mac. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:42PM (#27405419)

    and I can admit that PCs are WAY cheaper. The issue is that the pricing of Macs is completely devoid of choice. Don't need a built-in, high-res webcam? Too bad! Don't need the latest processor? We know better than you!

    If you build a PC laptop like you build a Mac laptop, you may get similar prices in the end. The problem is that you can't build a Mac laptop like you *would* build a PC laptop. One good example is that when choosing a processor, often times the price of the processor will go up exponentially in relation to performance improvements. I have absolutely no need for the utmost in processor performance (everything I do is going to depend more on RAM). However, when buying my new MacBook Pro, I had to get a hefty processor with it. For almost all users (and most users aren't /. readers), processor speed isn't going to matter much. Heck, I make my living on my computer and it doesn't matter much.

    It's also that there are good deals and bad deals from every PC company. So, if you cherry pick the outrageously marked up PCs against the Macs, the Macs look good. But you can also find very good PCs that are half the price.

    The fact is that for under $700 I can get a Dell Vostro 1510 with the same resolution display, more RAM, but with an Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.8GHz rather than 2.4GHz. Part of the problem is that the latest processors cost a lot more for very little gains - and Apple only offers me the latest, high-margin product. Upgrading the Dell to 2Ghz bumps the price up $125 (for a measly 10% gain in clock speed). That's an about 20% increase in the WHOLE COMPUTER'S PRICE for a 10% gain - possibly an increase of 50% in the processor cost for a 10% boost.

    I'm not trying to say that Apple products aren't worth the cost - since I shelled out $2K for one, I clearly think they are. But let's not get into a stupid "Apples are just as cheap" rhetoric match. That's like saying, "Dell costs twice as much if you buy 3 months groceries as part of the purchase". You can rig anything if people are passionate enough - and this is a situation that makes people passionate.

    Apple likes to have their high margins. You have to pay up to buy Apple computers. Don't try to justify it as the same price. They aren't. I think they're worth the money, but you need to be able to objectively evaluate situations. Most people can't - they bend data to justify what they wish were true. Apples are wonderful. They aren't cheap.

  • by darkmeridian (119044) <william@chuang.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @01:47PM (#27405501) Homepage

    These Apple vs. Dell competitions never account for the constant sales that Dell has on their products. They keep the list price relatively high so their salespeople can give "favorable pricing" to their corporate clients. Very frequently, though, Dell issues coupons good for huge discounts. You can get 10-25% off a new Dell laptop [techbargains.com] if you wait a few weeks. Apple hardly ever has huge sales.

    Most rational consumers would wait a bit to save a few hundred dollars. I would love to see a comparison that took these Dell discounts into account.

  • Why even argue? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kiddygrinder (605598) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @04:15PM (#27408003)
    Just buy whatever system you want without feeling the need to justify it. Even if macs are more expensive (which they may or may not be) if you can afford it who gives a shit?
  • by MacColossus (932054) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @06:46PM (#27410013) Journal
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/storage/?p=442 [zdnet.com] Basic premise, for the past 5 years Microsoft has 81 percent margins ($189,878 billion) versus Apple's 32% percent ($31 billion). Microsoft tax has been brilliantly spent on Zune (trounced by Apple), Windows search (trounced by Google), and Vista (trounced by XP). I don't agree with the further discussion about antivirus as I feel all computer users should have some form of antivirus and there are free solutions for Macs, PC's, and Linux.
  • The Cheaper PC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DannyO152 (544940) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:42PM (#27412247)

    I've been thinking about this ad the last few days. First of all, it was essentially scripted. There is absolutely no point in going to the Apple Store first when one is looking for a 17" $1000 or below laptop. She could have checked the Apple website; shoot, she could have looked at the Apple display in the Best Buy. She could have checked craigslist or ebay for a used one, though used Apples aren't necessarily cheap either.

    When Microsoft suggests that it is the OS of budget computing, well, that's a tad backhanded and self-inflicted, too. Argue as you will over the merits of Windows, there is no denying that no matter what level of system you build, you can save money by putting Linux on it. Microsoft skates here because they keep the sales channels in line and there's no hardware manufacturer who has really thrown in their lot with Linux and created a user experience that was clearly differentiated from the Windows experience the way Apple did with MacOS first and NeXT/BSD later. If someone did, that would be the winner on power and value for low cost.

    It also occurs to me that if every manufacturer's Windows pc was less expensive than the Apple in its class, then wouldn't that suggest there was not an Apple tax, but a Windows discount? The more I thought about it, the more I think we may state a law. As long as Microsoft allows multiple manufacturers to assemble Windows pc, there will always be at least one brand and model that is cheaper than the Apple in its class, otherwise the price-sensitive will choose a Mac.

    Think of it this way, if Microsoft could get $500 for its logo, they'd do it. Any company would. You'd do it. You'd be nuts not too. Small margins, high volumes is Plan C.

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