If I buy a Mac...

November 2008 – Haven’t upgraded the HD but SuperDuper! was update to work with Leopard (February). By waiting, I now have the option to go to 320GB / 7200 RPM. That and a new battery ought to do me good. :-) Also, the random external drive dropping is not so random... it happens with multiple external (physical) drives attached. Apple has also fixed the infernal WiFi wake from sleep bug.

January 2008 — The Mac is great but Leopard + SuperDuper! is sad still... I need to upgrade my 160GB 5400RPM drive to 200GB 7200RPM Hitachi Travelstar, but I need SD! to do this right (plus I need to reinstall Leopard since I’m randomly dropping external FireWire connections).

December 2006 — I bought a 15" MacBook Pro. 2.33 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB ATI Radeon X1600 Mobility.


18 May 2006 — MacBook Pro has dropped in price. The 17" is $200 cheaper as configured below (if I did my math correctly).

I’m looking into the 15.4" model: 2.16Ghz + 1GB RAM (with a slot for adding another 1GB) + 100GB 7200RPM drive (I still might go with 120GB 5400RPM if someone can convince me that it is good enough, but each computer I’ve owned has had 7200RPM drives for like 7 years...) + SuperDrive + 256MB ATI Radeon X1600. Price $2,600. Price after Pixar discount (15%): $2,210. (plus like $100-$150 for another gig of RAM). Pretty great deal, if you asked me.


08 May 2006 — Dell’s top of the line gaming machine, the Dell XPS M1710. Same thing about the display as the M170, the Dell packs in the power (optional 512MB GeForce Go 7900 GTX for $400 more, default 256MB GeFore Go 7900, a marvelous card) and the weight—8.8lbs—at a hefty $3,590 price tag. The price will drop, but that’s insane!

           MacBook Pro      Dell XPS M1710
           ===========      ==================
Speed/proc <--------- Core Duo --------->
           <---------- 2.166Ghz -------->
RAM        <------------ 2GB ----------->
Drives     <------- 100GB 7200RPM ------>
           <--------- SuperDrive ------->
Graphics   256MB ATI X1600  256MB GeForce Go 7900 GS (+$400 for 512MB GTX)
Resolution 1.7Mpx           2.3Mpx
Display/   17"              17"
  size     1"               1.6"
  weight   6.8 lbs          8.8 lbs
OSes       MacOSX + WinXP   just WinXP, wait a year for Vista
Audio      stereo builtin   stereo + subwoofer!
Battery    170-200 min(?)   154 min
            (better w/
             slower HDD)
Price      $3,100           $3,590
 discounts $2,635           ???

Sure the Dell is faster (graphics), but also bigger, uglier (crazy color choices for those who like it, and flashing lights to boot!) and outrageously expensive. Oh yeah, and Windows has finally sickened me enough to abandon it (but not Windows apps, which, as a whole, totally rock).



04 May 2006 — Time for an update: Dell slashed their prices (on the non-widescreen, non-workstation replacements, so it doesn’t help) and Apple came out with the 17" so it should be a more fair comparison. (I note that Apple considers these to be "Pro" but they are personal computers in the best sense, but Dell and the PC/Windows world calls this "workstation" material. Different perspective.)

1440x900 v. Mac 1680x1050 or make Dell 1920x1200 for $150 more (horrible viewing angle and color discrepancies from my experience). The Dell has the NVIDIA FX 1500M 256MB RAM w/ option to upgrade to 512MB FX 2500M for $250.

           MacBook Pro      Dell Precision M90
           ===========      ==================
Speed/proc <--------- Core Duo --------->
           <---------- 2.166Ghz -------->
RAM        <------------ 1GB -----------> (aftermarket get another 1GB)
Drives     <------- 120GB 5400RPM ------>
           <--------- SuperDrive ------->
Graphics   256MB ATI X1600  256MB nVIDIA Quadro FX 1500M (512MB for $250) more
Resolution 1.7Mpx           1.3Mpx (2.3Mpx for $150 more)
Display/   17"              17"
  size     1"               1.5"
  weight   6.8 lbs          8.6 lbs
OSes       MacOSX + WinXP   just WinXP, wait a year for Vista
Price      $2,800           $2,526
 discounts $2,380           ???



13 April 2005 — There’s a lot of banter on the web about the new Intel Macs, especially among Slashdot types who says they aren’t in love with Windows but can’t leave because they want the ability to play games, etc. Boot Camp helps make the Mac a possibility, but now everyone’s excuse is that they are too expensive. Oh really...

I compare (below) the 2.0GHz Core Duo 15.4" MacBook Pro with 2GB RAM, and a 100GB 7200RPM harddrive (which costs $2899) with a the Dell Precision M90 workstation replacement with the same specs (but a 30% larger 17" display with the same resolution; for $150 more I can pump up the Dell’s pixels to 2.3Mpx v. the MacBook Pro’s 1.3Mpx).

           MacBook Pro      Dell Precision M90
           ===========      ==================
Speed/proc <--------- Core Duo --------->
           <---------- 2.0Ghz ---------->
RAM        <------------ 2GB ----------->
Drives     <------- 100GB 7200RPM ------>
           <--------- SuperDrive ------->
Graphics   256MB ATI X1600  256MB nVIDIA Quadro 1500
Resolution 1.3Mpx           1.3Mpx (2.3Mpx for $150 more)
Ports/     blue tooth       $50 extra for bluetooth
connectors USB+firewire     even more and better ports and connectors

Design     10               6 or 7 on a good day?
Display/   15.4" wide       17" wide
  size     1"               1.5"
  weight   5.6 lbs          8.6 lbs
OSes       MacOSX + WinXP   just WinXP
Software   QuickTime+iTunes Windows Media Player
 bundled   Safari           IE
           GarageBand       Sound Recorder
           iPhoto           Windows Explorer
           iChat            MSN messenger (can it do video?)
           Front Row        Maybe Windows Media Center edition/player
            (+IR remote)     (+ remote for $30)
           Dashboard        ?
           PhotoBooth       ?
           iDVD+iMovie      ? (Windows Movie Maker?)
Goodies    backlit kb       ugly buttons on the front?
           magsafe connect
           magnetic latch
           nothing really   viruses and malware
           actual new OS    announcements of Vista delays
             releases that
             speed things up
           easy OS upgrade  wipe+reinstall same OS all the time
Being seen
 in public  respect/        meh (if you can even carry the thing)
            street cred
Price      $2,899           $3,001
 discounts $2,550           ??? maybe $2400-$2700 if I'm lucky?

Coupons come and go, and if I timed it right, I could probably find the Dell for much cheaper(*). But I almost forgot the SuperDrive! (default in the MacBook Pro) which brings the Dell up to $3001.

But the Dell weighs in at a hefty 8.6lbs! That’s 50% heavier! And I’m sure the battery life is rotten. (Dell is 1.6" “thin” 1.6"(H) x 15.5(W) x 11.3"(D) vs. Mac 1.0" x 14.1" x 9.6"). And the Mac runs and comes with amazing software (as well as being able to run all the Windows fare). And the Mac has vastly better design and aesthetics and the mag safe connector!

My conclusion about Apple “being expensive” is pretty much that they don’t make and sell junk (Mac mini w/ integrated graphics might refute this, but those machines seem pretty capable...). They only sell pro quality stuff (until the consumer Intel iBook or MacBook Normal comes out, then we’ll revisit this(**)). I don’t think the claims that Apple computers are too expensive hold water now that exact feature for feature comparisons are possible (I do buy the claim that Macs are not cheap, but hey, you can still buy cheap junk and put WinXP home on it, but you can’t run Vista anyway...). And if you are mistaken that Dell + Windows is aesthetically superior to Apple + Mac OS X, you bring your fate upon yourself.

(*) And with friends at Pixar, I can save 15% off a new system, and really give the Dells a run for their money. This is for me the deciding factor since I can’t shell out $3000 for any sort of system, but $2500 becomes much more reasonable...

(**) MacBook 13" announced. It looks very high quality and about the only difference (besides size and lack of illuminated keyboard) between it and the MacBook Pro is that the MacBook has integrated Intel graphics and hogs 64MB of your measly 512MB of RAM (which you can upgrade)). But the MacBook is competitively priced: $1100, $1300 (both white), or $1500 (black), as of 18 May 2005.