Is the New MacBook Expensive?

Our ongoing investigation into the fabled "Mac Tax" continues with a comparison of Apple's new machine and three Windows-based rivals.

By  |  Sunday, October 19, 2008 at 11:38 pm

When I first tried to compare the cost of Macs versus Windows PCs, I said that “Are Macs more expensive?” is one of computing’s eternal questions. It’s not, however, one with anything like an eternal answer. And the pricing analysis I did in that first article was rendered obsolete last Tuesday when Apple unveiled its new MacBook–which turned out to be a substantially slicker computer at a higher price point.

So it’s time to compare Apples and oranges Windows computers again. Let’s begin with a standard Mini-FAQ on the research effort that follows…

Q. The new MacBook has a 13-inch screen, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. You can find Windows laptops with more of everything and features no Mac has, like memory-card slots, for half that price. How can you even pretend that it’s not painfully obvious that Macs are incredibly expensive?

A. It’s completely true that you can buy some amazingly well-equipped Windows notebooks for much, much less than the cheapest MacBook. But the goal of this comparison is to see how the new MacBook stacks up against Windows systems that are roughly comparable, and to see if there’s some sort of unique “Mac Tax” that simply doesn’t exist in the Windows world. Those Windows cheapies are simply a different class of computer–just as a Monster Thickburger isn’t necessarily a better sandwich than one that involves less beef for more money.

Q. How did you decide which computers to compare the MacBook to?

A. I looked for ones with 13-inch screens and Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs, and I priced them in build-to-order configurations sold directly by the manufacturers so I could customize them to match the MacBook when possible. My goal was to make the machines as close as possible in terms of specs. I didn’t attempt to include every machine in this class–these comparisons get unwieldy when they involve too many systems.

Q. You should be giving the Mac huge brownie points for OS X, the lack of junkware, and/or the fact that Mac users don’t need to futz around with security software. Or maybe you should dock the Mac for all the things it doesn’t do, such as run most games (unless you install Windows and thereby turn it into a PC).

A. The differences between OS X and Windows are far more significant than any spec I discuss in this article. But I’m trying to focus mostly on speeds and feeds here–things that can be compared in an objective fashion. I cheerfully acknowledge that that’s only part of the equation, but when people talk about Macs being pricey, they’re comparing hardware, not software environments or user experiences.

Q. You can’t come to overall conclusions about the Mac Tax based on comparing one particular Mac system to a handful of Windows ones. Can you?

A. No, you can’t. And so I’ll do additional stories in this series from time to time. For now, I’m just considering this new MacBook and some roughly similar Windows laptops.

Q. You’re going to force me to click through three pages to learn your conclusions, huh?

A. No, no, I’ll give you an executive summary here. The MacBook is close in price to the laptops I looked at which it resembles most closely, all of which target what I think of as the low end of the high end of the notebook market; if there’s a Mac Tax here, it’s not worth worrying about. That said, it’s possible to get a somewhat more utilitarian 13-inch notebook–one that’s better-equipped than the MacBook in some respects, even–for a lot less.

Enough questions and answers–click to the next page, and we’ll meet the laptops in this comparison…

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126 Comments For This Post

  1. Gregg Says:

    I heard about Technologizer via your recent appearance on TWIT with Leo Laporte. Your tagline, "A Smarter Take on Tech," intrigued me, and I decided to subscribe to an RSS feed of your site.

    If this article is typical of your insight and analysis, then I've made the right decision to follow what you have to say. I'm impressed.

    Now for my comments on this article.

    You bear out what I've long thought: Apple hardware is high-end in both quality and price; but equivalent hardware from other manufacturers is, well, roughly equivalent in price. Yes, a little cheaper, but not significantly cheaper.

    People often make the mistake of seeing a $599.00 laptop and comparing it to a $2700.00 Apple laptop.

    You've done a good job, I think, of stressing equivalent hardware and setting software aside for this article.

    Kudos to you.

    Of course, fanboys on both sides of the aisle of the church of tech will cry foul — an unfortunate aspect of our polarized culture.

  2. Don Says:

    “Fabled Mac Tax?”

    After YEARS of being rightly dinged as being the source of outrageously increasing the price of hardware due to the “Windows Tax” the Windows’ maker invented the expression “Mac Tax” (another in their brilliant “I know you are but what am I?” marketing model) LAST WEEK. And now you, Harry McCracken, drinks the MS kool-aid and not only refers to the imaginary “Mac Tax,” but goes even further and calls this neologism “fabled.”

    If it’s “fabled,” how about showing us where it’s been used for more than, say, a mere six months. Give us some quotes. The expression “Windows tax” or “Microsoft tax” has been in use for TEN YEARS (see Wikipedia).

    If you want to be a Microsoft flack, that’s fine. Go ahead and repeat their advertising and claim it’s news. Maybe you’ll get some money or product from them (if you don’t already). But at least don’t add to the myths they spread.

    It has no effect on Apple or MS. It just makes you look bad. And stupid. It negates any truth your posing might put forth.

  3. smithee Says:

    This is the MacBook review I was looking for. The only thing missing was build quality. I held the MacBook and Pro this weekend and I was impressed by how solid they were. Unquestionably the best laptop build quality I’ve ever experienced. Dells are usually creaky, Vaio are hit and miss. How was the Lenovo build quality?

  4. carl Says:

    I’m new to your site and like what I see thus far. I think your comparison of prices is fairly accurate. To some degree, it is an, pardon the phrase, apple-to-oranges comparison when measuring a $500-700 laptop against one that costs $1299 or $1599; the more expensive machine should provide greater “objective” features. It goes without saying, however, that if you want a machine that can just do the basics then Apple would be a costly decision (I should add that the improved power of computers means that today’s “basic” machine can do a lot more than a machine of ten years ago. So, in a way, one gets more for a lower price today; and despite the claims by some, just b/c a machine is a Dell or Sony doesn’t mean that it’s cheap and, more importantly, there’s nothing wrong at all with wanting the least expensive computer. A computer is like a car in that the moment you purchase it, generally, you can’t get back what you paid.) The dilemma I can see for myself, as a user of Windows via an iMac/VmWare Fusion, is that there is some software that I really like that is Mac-only (e.g. Devonthink); and it’s almost as if it’s this software rather than OSX that is keeping me bound to the Mac. Thus, when the Mac price increase it makes me more aware of what it’s going to cost to keep using the Mac. Now, I was disappointed at the price increase of the MacBooks — not because I bought into the $800 rumor but because, for me, it feels that the major improvement or change is the new design. I used to have a white MacBook and I didn’t mind the integrated graphics b/c I wasn’t gaming or doing something else that demanded discrete graphics. So, I guess that’s my biggest complaint: now, to get a MacBook, I’ve got to pay more. I would feel better if for $1299 I got at least a 250gb hard drive and 3gb of ram … thus, for me, that’s why this new price increase … Finally, I would not have minded a MacBook with the new design, the old integrated graphics, etc. I think such a product would be an eas(ier)y sell.

  5. Relyt Says:

    Great job here – but with the Dell, you can get bluetooth for 20$, not 25$… I know it’s a small difference but still.

    Relyt

  6. Relyt Says:

    Another funny thing – when you configure the Dell it offers a Mini 9 as an accessory….I’m already buying 1 computer, I don’t need another!

  7. Sean Says:

    Great article. It seems quite fair and balanced.

    I’m not sure what ran up Don’s ass and died. I guess you can actually be articulate and ignorant at the same time. Who knew?

  8. Matthew Parker Says:

    I’ve enjoyed listening to you on TWiT, and this article was an interesting breakdown of comparable computers. Thanks.

  9. John Says:

    A very good article. When I first began reading it, I was under the impression that it was slightly biased towards Apple products. It quickly proved me wrong. I used to sell computers, and I speak truth when I say that an eight hundred dollar laptop just doesn’t compare to one that falls above the eleven hundred dollar mark. Build quality is where this was most apparent to me.

    Carl was correct when he stated that “objective” features are really what differentiates a lower end laptop from a higher end laptop, and to most consumers, build quality is a very objective feature.

    I currently own more than forty Windows based machines, and one 24″ iMac. I keep the Windows machines at work, and the Mac at home. After constantly troubleshooting the many problems that I encounter on a day to day basis with Windows, it is nice to come home to something that just works. I prefer to use Windows for application development and gaming, and my iMac for surfing, music, and video. Although, I did tire of the one-button mouse rather quickly and replaced it with a two button mouse.

    I am by no means a fan-boy, and I feel each system has it’s merits. I just wish that Microsoft, and several PC Manufacturers, had a similar design philosophy.

    Thanks for a great read!

  10. Randy Brown Says:

    I’ve been using HP and Dell computers for years. Until this last week I’d never even considered buying a mac, but after doing a comparison similar to yours I couldn’t help but take the new MacBook seriously. My only concern with your comparison is the video card. If you attempt to add any kind of “real” video (not that integrated intel garbage) to a Dell, you are looking at adding anywhere from 200 to 400 dollars, which now puts it right up into the same category as the Sony, Lenovo, and MacBook.

    PS I’m typing this post from my new MacBook and have never been happier with a computer purchase… ever!

  11. dbmuse Says:

    don’t forget to add wintax to all windows computers…. the virus scanner. Even when its provided it “STEALS CPU” on a continual basis. And retailers try to upsell to a bigger better virus scanner. Thats enough to make Mac worth it. If you do a Unix then this tax goes away.

  12. white Says:

    i think macs are inconvenient, because they don’t have a card reader, no express card slot, the vga/dvi out needs an adapter, and the mic jack is only for active mic, which means that u can’t use a headset.
    so i think macs r still more expensive. and it doesn’t look better!

  13. r0n Says:

    What is “Windows PC”? If you install, e.g., FreeBSD on any of those “Windows PC”s, will it still remain “Windows PC”? This label sounds even more stupid taking into account that the author states explicitly that he does NOT compare the OSes.

  14. Alex Says:

    @Don

    What do you mean “MS Kool-Aid”–unless you’re seriously suggesting that people thinking Apple computers were disproportionately expensive is a new thing? It’s certainly a term–and a concept–my friends and coworkers have been familiar with for the four years I’ve been building and supporting computers (hey, I can’t help being young); it was something people talked about when I was growing up. Even a cursory USENET search shows that people were talking about it as far back as 1993–in the context of Microsoft, which should pretty much tell you that the phrase (or something like it) has existed for roughly as long as there’s been childish partisan bickering about it.

    I’m not going to claim any particular affiliation–I’m the IT manager for an exclusively Apple office, do most of my work there and at home on a pair of Vista machines, and maintain several *nix servers. I don’t mind any machine; I’d be happy recommending either Mac or PC to my friends and family. Stripped of blind computer sectarianism, I imagine most people would do the same. But I’d think we could can the silly “Kool-Aid” nonsense; why pretend that he’s addressing–and quite cogently and respectfully at that–anything new?

    ar de alex kn

  15. David Emery Says:

    Summary: My experience backs up Mac laptops as being high quality/low repair. Open source Office products interoperate with Windows Office, but there is a “Windows Tax” for having to run/suffer through Windows-only applications when carrying a MacBook.

    Some earlier MacBooks have had problems and recalls/special warranties. I’ve been carrying a MacBook Pro or its PowerPC predecessor since they came out. In a non-scientific comparison with other people on my project, during a period where we were all traveling up to 80%, my PowerBook/MacBook Pro lasted longer than I think everyone else’s Windows boxes. So my experience with Apple products has been that they’re definitely using high quality components.

    When I’m on vacation and taking a lot of photos, I don’t have a problem with digging out the Compact Flash reader, but it is another thing to carry. Needing a VGA adaptor for external projectors is balanced by NOT NEEDING a DVI adapter for an external monitor at the office. DVI is better than VGA; that’s more of a problem with external projectors not keeping up with display technology.

    With respect to the “Mac Tax”, Neo Office or Open Office are great alternatives to MS Office on the Mac, and in fact both will open Windows Office documents that MS Office croaks on. For one customer application that is Windows-only, I have to pay about $200 to get Virtualization (I’m using Parallels, others are using VMWare) and OEM license of XP. That’s a “Windows Tax” for Windows-only applications. But that’s not a totally bad thing, since the need to do this was the justification for replacing my PowerBook with a MacBook Pro a year earlier than planned :-)

  16. User01 Says:

    You have successfully compared two overpriced Windows Laptops and one reasonable priced one to two Apple laptops.

    The reasonable priced laptop comes out far cheaper. There are laptops (Asus for example) that would have been cheaper again than the Dell.

    Further to that, you are comparing a 13″ model. The 13″ Macbook is probably the closest Apple offers to a reasonably priced laptop. With Apple, the 13″ model is cheaper. With most laptop makers, 13″ is a premium model and costs more than their 15″.

    Please do a comparison between the 15″ Macbook Pro and similar products offered by Dell or Asus. The Macbook will be twice the price. Do a comparision between an iMac and a Dell desktop computer (or a build it yourself one). Again, the Mac will be twice the price.

    There most definitely is a “Mac Tax”. If you can’t see that, then you’re either blind or stupid (or in the case of many Apple fanboys here, brainwashed).

    I don’t see the problem though. It’s about choice. It’s exactly the same as in fashion – if you want a designer brand you have to pay more. Likewise, if you want a nice looking laptop that you think will impress your friends, you’ll need to stump up the extra cash for it.

  17. p4nda Says:

    @r0n:
    They’re called “windows-pc” because:
    1) amazingly, thats what you get when you buy one.
    2) so 90% of the population understands what he’s talking about.

  18. JesseC Says:

    @User01,

    The author made it clear that the laptops compared were spec’d directly from the manufacturer. Does Asus sell directly? Also, the comparison here is between the macbook (Apple’s most successful laptop ever) and other reasonably comparable laptops. The Macbook Pro is not in this category, as it is not aimed at the consumer to the extent of the macbook.The macbook pro buyer is not as price conscious as that of the macbook. If you wanted to buy a cheap 15″ laptop, you’re not considering a macbook pro, and your probably not going to go for the extra hundred dollars or more for Windows Vista Super Extra Business Extreme either.

    In my experience, my previous generation macbook pro has already paid for itself over asus laptops that have a much lower build quality.

  19. User01 Says:

    It doesn’t matter if they sell directly – the point is that a similar spec’d Windows PC can be bought for a lot less.

    Like I say, 13″ demands a premium from most laptop manufacturers. If you were to include any Windows Laptop that you can get at Best Buy with the same specs, and allow a 15.4″ screen, the price would be 50% of the Mac price.

    In any case, even in this comparison, you have a Dell that is $480 cheaper. I maintain my view that there most definitely is a Mac Tax, in just the same way there is a Gucci tax, or a Porsche Tax.

  20. bart Says:

    Dells you should have used to comparison are either XPS M1330 (3.97 lbs) or Latitude E4300 (3.3 lbs). Clearly, if you need to carry your notebook around, Apple is not your choice. Even 14″ Latitude E6400 weights less, then the white macbook.

  21. Mike Says:

    I can vouch for the Vaio’s battery life and weight, owned 3 kinds so far and they were extremely light and lasted 5+ hours with ease.

  22. Kelly Says:

    This review was not very informative, lots of guest work on the authors part and taking the laptop specs as being accurate, while we all know that real world applications are normally much different. All companies claim great battery life from their notebooks, yet in real world applications they always fall short. It was a nice article but not backed with any hard data.

  23. Bug Says:

    Wow, I read this far and then page 3 does not exist. I’d love to know how the prices compare :-(

  24. Bill Says:

    Max Tax has not necessarily been the buzzword for long, but tech folks have been using some variant of it (apple tax, mac premium, etc) for , oh, about 20 years now. Apple’s hardware is expensive because you are not buying hardware, you are buying image, and that’s about it. Leave the world of these little basic 13″ computers and start comparing the real laptops, the top of the line machines and start seeing differences of $500-$600 and you will see what I mean.

    The “differences of less than $100 don’t matter” crap is ridiculous. $100 is 10% of the price of the old macbook, its 12% of the price of the Dell. It’s 33 gallons of gas for god’s sake, 2 fill ups. Yes, you can buy the Dell and pay for 4% of your gas for this YEAR. If $100 matters so little, please write out your checks for $100 and mail them to me, don’t worry, you won’t miss them while you bask in the glow of your new macbook.

  25. howlingmadhowie Says:

    the main advantage i can see of apple is that it comes with os x, which (despite apple) is a first-class unix operating system. this means that people can do ‘real’ work on os x, something which to the best of my knowledge still isn’t possible under windows vista or windows server. in os x you can open a shell and use gnu awk and gnu sed and gnu grep and other tools which make life a lot easier for people who bother to learn them. and now os x also has dtrace, which makes it very interesting in software development and computer science.

  26. User01 Says:

    How many people (including sys admins) do you think use awk, sed, grep on your Macbook? If you’re a sys admin, you don’t do work on your machine, you log into another machine to do it.

    You can get many applications for Windows that allow you to ssh to another machine. If for some reason your “real work” requires you to use these tools locally, then you can install Cygwin (completely free) for Windows that will do exactly the same thing.

    There is simply no issue here.

  27. Geoffrey A. Landis Says:

    “I configured the MacBook, white Macbook, and Sony with 160GB drives The Dell and Lenovo come with 25GGB ones.”

    Cool! 25 billion gigabytes! That should do for quite a while!

  28. InTheShelter Says:

    @user1

    So your arguement is the comparison should be between a 15″ Windows machine vs a 13″ Macbook because Windows manufacturers charge a premium for 13″ machines and so the 15″ is their REAL economy machine? That is about the most ridiculous piece of crap logic I’ve ever heard! I guess I could say that you can’t compare a 15″ Windows machine to a 13″ Macbook because Apple’s REAL economy machine is a Mac mini. That would be the same crap logic.

    There is no Mac tax. Similar spec’d machines are very close in price, it was just demonstrated in this article for the Nth time. Your attempt to force an apples to oranges comparison in order to make your flawed point has failed.

    Now go run update on your antivirus software and scan for spyware, and defrag, but first make sure to have Windows call back to the mother ship to re-authorize your operating system that you’re supposed to own. . . .I think I made my point. Windows is called WinBlows for a reason.

  29. Malc Says:

    HDMI – that’s just DVI with sound. As the Macs can output DVI, the Lenovo doesn’t have an advantage. You didn’t say whether the DVI (or HDMI) outputs support HDCP. I’d bet the Sony can do that if it can be equipped with a BD drive.

    OS – I use a Mac at home, and PCs at work. I can honestly say I prefer Windows. It’s more stable, and more powerful. Won’t be getting a PC at home though, nor running Windows 100% via Bootcamp.

  30. Peter Blokhuis Says:

    I am a first time Mac user for the first time in my life and I observe a couple of things:
    1) you must include the yearly operating cost of antivirusware required with Win computers.
    2) Resale value of Macs is FAR higher. (after all, who wants to buy someone else’s buggered up Windows computer?
    3) Mac screen quality is much better than same size windows screens.
    4) Yearly maintenance cost/time of purging malware on Win PCs.
    5) Superior wireless range of Macs.
    6) The most important point: the increased productivity of the Macs vs. the limited choices of software for them. If you are in a technical field where there is no Mac software then you must choose Windows, otherwise a Mac is a clear choice.

  31. Roger Says:

    “Mac Tax” is NOT a new phrase… I’ve heard it for years, at least since 2001. And note – I own intel 3 Macs… love them all.

    Do this search on google:
    “Mac Tax” site:slashdot.org

    You’ll find comments stating “Mac Tax” at least as early as 2004…

    e.g. http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/06/1216239

  32. brodkil Says:

    Does no one realize that companies do not generally specialize in 13-inch Laptops? Try the 15.1-inch range, I guarentee your results will be a lot different. Apple basically invented the 13-inch market. Good to see that their able to keep up with their competitors.

  33. Imran Says:

    Great article. I am a student and I’d also like to point out that there is academic pricing and if you buy at the right time (back to school), you can also factor in a free iPod. Yes, this may be fanboy flamebait but I’m pointing it out only to reaffirm the point that Macs are not as expensive as they are perceived.

  34. mbp-user Says:

    “How many people (including sys admins) do you think use awk, sed, grep on your Macbook?”
    Everyone I know personally who uses OS X uses it for this exact reason, so I would say a minimum of 10, including those who have/manage remote shells. You’d be surprised how often it’s convenient to shell *into* a macbook.

  35. putergeek007 Says:

    There is always the initial purchase price to compare however, where most of my Mac friends feel they get burned is add-ons. Have you done any comparison of that?

  36. Mr.BiG Says:

    I just built this HP for $1349.00 ($50.00 more than that macbook) that has every conceivable port you can think of.

    Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 1 (32-bit)
    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.4 GHz)
    Display 16.0″ diagonal High Definition HP Ultra BrightView Infinity Display (1920x1080p)
    3GB DDR2 System Memory
    512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
    250GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
    HP Imprint Finish (Fluid) + Microphone + Webcam + Fingerprint Reader
    HP Color Matching Keyboard
    Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N Mini-card
    Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer
    Primary battery 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery

    Who in god’s name would buy that macbook…..

  37. 1369ic Says:

    My wife is a confirmed Sony buyer, and currently has a first-generation SZ that I have to administer and upgrade for her. I used Macs for many years (but am now on Linux) and would have a Mac laptop now if someone would have shipped one to where I was stationed overseas last time I bought one. So I keep up on both sides, and I think your analysis is right on.

    The problem is that computers remain voodoo to many people, and they can’t see the difference between a Sony and an Acer to begin with. And a significant proportion of the ones who can see the difference get mesmerized by specs but are somehow immune to design considerations. It’s the same in every field. I tell people I want, say, a Mini, and they can’t understand why I don’t buy a Pontiac with some sporty parts tacked on. Meanwhile they have a big plasma TV and I have an old tube because I watch about an hour of TV a week. It’s what’s important to you and what you’re willing to pay for. And it would all work out perfectly fine, but people have to pass judgment and talk dookie about other people’s choices. Apparently it makes them feel superior or at least validates their world view or something. I don’t know.

    I’ve had to come to grips with this because my wife wants a nice-looking laptop that runs what she’s familiar with, whereas I build my own desktop machines and compile my own kernels for Slackware Linux. The difference in design is important enough to her to pay the Sony tax for, and the difference in flexibility and speed is worth it for me to pay the time tax to run my OS of choice.

    People just need to concentrate on what makes them happy and skip passing judgment on people who have different priorities. Let him who is without quirk cast the first flame. Or something like that.

  38. John Says:

    @ Peter Blokhuis

    1) You can use free tools like AVG and Spybot instead of paying.
    2) Resale values of computers in general are pretty low, I would like to see some data on Macs having higher ones.
    3) “Mac screens are better than windows ones” – There are a ton of manufacturers that make “windows” computers, this statement is a broad generalization. I guarantee that some PC manufacturers match Mac screen quality.
    4) I have never paid for this, and “time” consists of clicking a button to run a spyware scan before you leave for a few hours. If you are a smart computer user you should never have malware problems.
    5) This is dependent on hardware, and you can get the same quality hardware in PCs. You probably just noticed this because you bought a new computer.
    6) This doesn’t mean anything. “Increased Productivity”? In what sense? I agree that OS X is faster than Vista, if that’s what you mean, but saying that Macs have increased productivity is just too non-specific, especially for “the most important point.”

  39. Bill Says:

    Fair enough article.

    Aside from the Windows vs Mac debate, now is a great time to get quality computer equipment for a very reasonable price. When it comes down to chasis quality as the biggest factor to seperate a high quality laptop from a budget one, then us folks working on a budget are quite happy.
    -Bill

  40. Jas Says:

    I skimmed through these pretty quickly but, the one thing I thought I found missing is there is no mention of the “Mac Price Curve”. Right now is a great time to buy a Mac but later in the curve (about 2 quarters from now) there can be a significant difference. Right before the new lappies were introduced there was an almost $300 difference between similar spec’d laptops. Not too mention this last set of upgrades although were impressive for the MacBooks wasn’t so impressive for the MacBook Pros.

  41. Alistair Says:

    I use awk and grep on my vintage PowerBook Ti. I also use rsync all the time. My 3 macs maintain the same directory structure for all my work files. I have a terminal open all of the time. Some things, like batch renaming files, are simply much faster to do via the command prompt.

    My iMac is online all the time and I ssh to that (or login using VNC).

    You are generally happy with what you know. My exposure to Windows is very recent (via VirtualBox on my work Mac) while I have been using Macs and Unix since the late 80s (we had an SE-30 at school with two low density floppy drives and no hard drive).

    I ordered a new MacBook to replace my venerable Ti. I could have swung a MBP but went with the lighter weight of the MacBook.

  42. Jas Says:

    Oh BTW take a look at this site as a reference for what I am talking about http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/. This will tell you when a good time to buy is.

  43. IAmAPC Says:

    Everyone knows that you get raped when you buy hardware directly from the retailer. Case in point; I purchased 4GB of 5-5-5-15 DDR2 memory from NewEgg for $59. The same quality/quantity of RAM cost $500 on DELL’s website.

    There is an Apple hardware tax, there is a DELL hardware tax, there is always a tax when you buy directly from the manufacturer.

    Summary: Build your own Laptop or PC. If you don’t know how, hire someone because it will still be less than paying your unnecessary tax.

  44. Joe Says:

    The problem with this comparison is it does not consider that most people do not go shopping for a new PC with exact specs in mind. As much as I like Apple products, they are extremely inflexible with regards to configuration.

    If I asked the question: “How much will it cost me to get a computer that will browse the internet wirelessly?” or “I need a laptop that I can bring on a plane and watch movies?” I bet the results would swing wildly in PC’s favor as Apple only has a few configuration options – none of which are cheap.

    Last, most major computer manufacturers have sales, and few customers would disregard sale prices to meet specific specs (as I can only imaging had to be done for this article). I think the author was as fair as possible in answering the question, but perhaps it was the wrong question.

  45. Josh Says:

    I’d be interested in seeing a comparison of the larger notebooks (i.e. not 13″ displays). From what I’ve seen, with 13″ display models you are limited to the types of hardware you can use, which does make the Mac Book pretty close in price to the PCs. On larger display models, though, the price gap seems to be more apparent. Just my two cents.

  46. alfredo Says:

    The lack of FireWire will be less important as time goes by, just as the lack of a floppy drive became a non issue.

  47. Xeno Says:

    Well you should also includes the list of software that the Mac includes like iMovie (I made several profesional demonstrations using this for work), Garageband (great for mixing loops and recording your own tracks), iChat (IM,video chat and teleconference), text to speech built in, and as a result of it’s BSD backend (UNIX), you really don’t need antivirus, antispyware, etc etc and you can get a load of open source software to work natively via Macports.

    Heck, I’m running the new OpenOffice 3.0 to open all my Microsoft Ofice apps and PDF apps. How does al that add into the price point? I just saved $500 in antivirus alone.

  48. Andy Says:

    Dude, you forgot the Microsoft Works tax. With the wealth of free office suite options, putting a turd like Works on a machine is a disservice to the customer.

  49. Mr.BiG Says:

    If you’re spending $500.00 on antivirus for a personal laptop computer, you sir are ill informed.

  50. Robert Chase Says:

    Apple products can’t really be compared to regular “commodity” PC’s just as a Mercedes-Benz can’t really be compared to a Ford Taurus. Just like the Mercedes the new Macbook is not the cheapest system out there. But for the people who buy them they would want nothing else just like the Macbook.

    Something else to look at is the used prices on these systems. Even a 5 year old Mac still fetches at least half of its original value. Most PC laptops sell for a fraction of their original cost and some that are perfectly working are just thrown away. If you take this into account Macs are CHEAPER than PC’s as when your ready to retire the unit you can actually get some of your capital investment back by doing a preowned sale.

    I bought one of the new Macbooks sight unseen on the first day or release and its an absolutely amazing machine. The system is more sturdy with the solid aluminum case and is lighter and easier to carry. Even if Dell Sony and Levono called me up and wanted to GIVE me a demo unit I would not want to have to carry those cheap plastic boat anchors in my bag.

  51. Adam Jones Says:

    Mr. McCracken, why choose the Dell Inspiron instead of its high end XPS sibling? The XPS has a higher build quality and a higher price as well. The Dell Inspiron is in the class of sub-$1000 computers, i.e. cheap. I know from experience that build quality and design choices makes a bigger difference in user satisfaction than you let on. Why do you think otherwise frugal business users would keep shelling out so much money for Thinkpads over Inspirons and Compaqs? Choosing to compare the new MacBook to a cheap plastic machine is not only unfair, it raises the specter of journalistic bias.

  52. dmunsie Says:

    @John:

    2) Resale values of computers in general are pretty low, I would like to see some data on Macs having higher ones.

    This is from my own experience, and is only one data point, but here goes — I purchased a PPC Mac mini back when they first came out for $600. I was able to sell it on eBay two years later for $400 — the only hardware upgrade I had done was bumping the RAM up to 1GB, which I had done by grabbing memory out of my Linux box I already had. There was no additional software installed (wiped back to the factory install — which included MacOS X 10.3 instead of the then current 10.4).

    I would say that selling for 2/3rds of it’s original selling price would be an example of Macs having a higher resell value.

  53. Tom Says:

    I just bought the new MacBook, my very first Mac laptop, and I’m typing this comment with it. I agree with your review, but would like to point out that Apple has this tendency of adding these small feature that seems minor but make all the difference in the world.

    In the case of Leopard, it was TimeMachine. This was the single one feature that made me switch from Windows to Apple.

    For the MacBook, it’s the multi-touch trackpad. I’ve had many other laptops and while one gets used to their individual trackpad after a while, none of them made it feel completely natural and pleasant right from the start. Not so with the new MacBook. The interface is spectacularly good and reason enough for me, after only 1 week of usage, to probably never again consider anything else.

  54. George Says:

    One interesting thing to compare on the prices of all these machines might be the average life span, or time between upgrades.

    My personal experience, at least comparing Apples and Dells is that apple laptops last much longer without requiring service (save some basic defect). I have many friends who bought Dells at the same time i got my powerbook (or in some cases 1-2 years later) which are now beginning to fail, from hard drive problems to screen and case issues (keyboards falling apart, bad trackpads etc.)

    This may just be a function of the price of the laptop as mine was much more expensive. But if you didnt get extended dell coverage you would have to shell out another few hundred to get a laptop that works again anyhow (either by repairs or replacement).

    Maybe it is more economical to keep buying new cheap laptops on a 2 year cycle, but I think i prefer having one laptop that is going on its fourth year and still offers acceptable performance, without a single hardware failure on the computer (had to get apple to replace the power adapter though). However, when you are comparing an Apple that is a fair amount less than twice the price of the Dell it may be worth wondering how soon you are going to have to replace the Dell and whether it would in the end cost more.

    Of course the downside of high quality long lasting computers is that it makes it hard to justify upgrading, which is what is keeping me from grabbing one of the new macbooks right now. Oh well.

  55. Jason The Saj Says:

    A couple of things to consider….

    a) 13″ is probably closer for cost point than many other scenarios. Try this comparison versus a 17″ notebook. And the Mac starts pricing out at about $1,000 more.

    b) This does not take into account the fact that I can often walk into a Circuit City and get something like a 14″-15″ widescreen notebook that is full featured for $450-$750.

    The “Mac Tax” is the fact that the prices you mentioned are it. You’ll never get a 25% Dell coupon for a Mac. You’re not going to pick up a Mac laptop for a budget $600 like you can with HP/Compaq, Toshiba, and others. And you are never going to find the $325 15″ Acer notebook equivalent in Mac.

    That’s the issue. Sure, if I price out a fully loaded Dell. I might approach the cost of a Macbook Pro. But the fact of the matter is that there are usually specials, discounts, and coupon codes that will knock that price down significantly.

    There are major name brands with a surplus market (ie: after the school sales period are over, and before the new models come out. Circuit City and the like move those notebooks are 1/2 the cost. These are no where to be found within the Mac Tax environment.

    I’ve been looking to upgrade my 17″ notebook to an equivalently comparable 17″ widescreen workstation for the times. I could buy a fully loaded Windows PC for about $2,000 a comparable MacbookPro will run me $3,500.

    In fact, my first 17″ desknote by Toshiba only cost me $1,400 6 yrs ago. Mac would have been 2-3x the cost.

  56. ubersoldat Says:

    But, which one does run Linux the better? I’ll give (from my experience) to give advantage here to Lenovo and Dell.

  57. ihateapple Says:

    Mac tax??? pffff – we know it costs much more to make white plastic

  58. bryan Says:

    I can’t find any documentation to back this claim up, but i am fairly positive that if you buy the previous generation $999 bottom-of-the-barrel macbook, it will come no where close to the specs to which you aspire (2 gb RAM, 160-250 gb HD, new generation core 2 duo, discrete graphics, etc). Instead, you will get 512 mb RAM, 2.0 Core 2 Duo with 667 Mhz bus speed and 2MB L2 cache, 80 gb hard drive, and integrated graphics. Let the comparisons begin…

  59. Joe Says:

    A couple of things.

    So, I think it’s a little silly to say that you shouldn’t worry about 100 out of 1000 when purchasing a computer. $100 is still $100 (and in this case, it’s $100+tax on $100).

    I think the price difference will really present itself as you move up in screen size. I know when I was doing some quick comparisons for other people, I noticed a large difference in the 15″ and 17″ sizes.

    Lastly, I don’t really understand why the macbook comes with such a beefy graphics card. For the average email/document/picture viewer laptop user, it’s really not needed (well, unless you also have a 30″ monitor sitting around unused). And, i believe it is still the case that even if you are using photoshop it’s still not using the graphics card… So what gives?

  60. Goofball Jones Says:

    Why is it whenever there’s a story about Apple or Macs people come out of the woodwork to either condemn or unjustly praise? It’s like someone spit on your religion or something.

    I swear, I’ve seen better behaved jihads. These are computers people. I don’t care what you use, why should you care what anyone else uses? If I say something idiotic like “my computer is the best brand and all others pale in comparison and anyone that doesn’t use my computer is a moron” how on earth can that change anything you do? You still get up in the morning. The birds still sing outside. The sun still comes up. Your computer still runs. Nothing has changed.

    Learn that some people just like to goad other people. They’re not going to change anyone elses mind. No one is going to change their mind and then these talk-backs just become noise. Honestly, is there ANYONE here that’s changed their mind and totally changed their computing habits based on some goofballs ramblings on a forum? Seriously?

    If someone says something bad about your brand of computer, it’s not the end of the world and realize that you do NOT have to fight to the death to defend the product you bought.

  61. Jules Says:

    I think the only bit of logic/$value/feature missing in the review is the fact the Macbook can run either OS! It’s this very feature that is causing people to mentally move over, from having bought several PCs & upgrades over the years…often price aside…

    This in itself has to be seen as a key compelling ‘feature’ no other laptop has. That feature enables you to run Mac OS X, and more importantly iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iWeb, Final Cut, Shake, Pages, Keynote etc…not to mention stability, no freeware, virus scanners etc…

    All the above is what’s allowed me to excel in business, compared to associates and competitors – in addition to not having to ‘support’ family PCs…as I insist they all run Mac!

    Not to mention Mac’s perhaps more seamlessly sync with iPod / iPhones…? Maybe?

  62. John Says:

    Bryan said:
    “I can’t find any documentation to back this claim up, but i am fairly positive that if you buy the previous generation $999 bottom-of-the-barrel macbook, it will come no where close to the specs to which you aspire”

    You can’t find any documentation? Uhh… did you try, I don’t know, Apple.com? I found it within about 5 clicks of reading your comment.

    For $1,124 you can spec the White macbook to 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (800mhz FSB), 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, and 160GB Serial ATA Drive.
    Or buy it for $999 with 1gb ram, and a 120 gig hardrive and upgrade them yourself for less. But let’s be serious, every computer company overcharges for ram and hdd upgrades.

    I will say though that the graphics are my only problem. I am a gamer and it would be nice if my white macbook (purchased several months ago) could run more than counterstrike. But hey, that’s why I custom built my desktop. For the vast majority of people getting macbooks, the graphics really don’t matter all that much.

  63. JSG Says:

    I’ve been using the term “Apple Tax” for decades.

    It’s hardly a new phenomenon, especially amoung longtime Apple customers- EVERYTHING with an Apple Logo on it has ALWAYS had such an EXTREME!!!! price markup, they should force you to go base jumping while slamming a Mountain Dew after you pay for it.

    I still remember when you had to buy an Apple mouse, and it was $30 higher than a third party mouse. That’s pretty much standard operating procedure with Apple, like when they charge $90 for their yearly service pack, or force you into a heavily marked-up service contract with the already highly overpriced iPhone.

  64. Enema Says:

    So…

    If I buy a Macbook and put linux on it, I pay the Mac Tax.
    If I buy a laptop without Windows, and put linux on it, I don’t pay the Mac Tax.

    The ‘fabled’ “Windows Tax” that says you can’t buy a computer without Windows (and thus pay for Windows even when you’d use Linux, for example) has been worked around for several years now. Mfrs also are selling PC’s sans-Windows.

    Real question becomes: “if we compare COMPAREABLE hardware, why is it ok to pay more for the Apple version?”

  65. bobby Says:

    maybe the dell xps 13.3 inch machine would have made for a better apples to apples comparison?

  66. Chris Hill Says:

    Thank you for the review. As I tentatively await the arrival of my new mac, I hope I made a good purchase.

    Couple points:

    I agree with Jules: The fact that Macs can run OS X, Windows, and Linux vs. just Linux and Windows is a compelling factor in the purchase.

    The one point I was hoping you would touch on was the technical differences between the new Nvidia chipset and the old Intel one. Besides the new video chipset, are there any other benefits?

  67. JSG Says:

    No, the problem is that PCs are generally the same price, either with or without Windows.

    Apple hardware, however, tends to be more expensive, due primarily to the Apple monopoly… which is summarized as an “Apple Tax”. All things Apple are more expensive, that’s part and parcel of the consumerist label whore mystique of being an Apple user.

    Why else would people gladly pay $90 for an OSX service pack? MS has always given those away for free… but Apple throws a few buggy apps in with it, and calls it a valuable must-have “new version” of the operating system.

  68. dmunsie Says:

    @JSG:

    “It’s hardly a new phenomenon, especially amoung longtime Apple customers- EVERYTHING with an Apple Logo on it has ALWAYS had such an EXTREME!!!! price markup, they should force you to go base jumping while slamming a Mountain Dew after you pay for it.

    I still remember when you had to buy an Apple mouse, and it was $30 higher than a third party mouse. That’s pretty much standard operating procedure with Apple, like when they charge $90 for their yearly service pack, or force you into a heavily marked-up service contract with the already highly overpriced iPhone.”

    Wow — all caps EXTREME markup — that’s pretty insane.

    I find it interesting that you are upset about Apple charging for their OS updates — the larger ones, that is. The incremental updates are still free. Just because Apple has put them out at a faster rate than Microsoft doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid reason to sell them. They are roughly the same price as each new upgrade version of Windows and feature-wise they add about the same as well. But just because Apple comes out with them at a quicker pace than Microsoft, you think Apple is wrong about it?

    And to add to that, you’re even wrong about the frequency — the updates have slowed down a lot since the first few years of MacOS X — Tiger took 18 months after Panther, and Leopard was 30 months after Tiger.

    As for the iPhone, what exactly is Apple doing differently than other phone manufacturers in regards to pricing? Or are you confusing the actions of AT&T with Apple?

  69. JSG Says:

    Also… when a reviewer “claims” to be doing an (ahem) apples to apples comparison of how various laptops perform… I notice that they ALWAYS compare dissimiliar hardware.

    For example, this review is comparing the MacBook with a 1066 FSB to computers with an 800 or (!!!) 677 FSB. Of COURSE the MacBook is going to seem faster! The FSB is the determinate for the computer’s speed, even moreso than the processor speed. Putting a fast processor into a 677 FSB motherboard is putting lipstick on a pig.

    Sure, it’s dumb of Sony to release a computer with a 677 FSB, but if your stated goal is to do a comparison, you have to be comparing like to like. Go with higher end models if you have to. If nothing else, it would make the MacBook look like an even better deal pricewise (but likely not when you match up performance and options, which is why I suspect lower end models tend to be compared).

  70. JSG Says:

    “I find it interesting that you are upset about Apple charging for their OS updates — the larger ones, that is. The incremental updates are still free. Just because Apple has put them out at a faster rate than Microsoft doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid reason to sell them. They are roughly the same price as each new upgrade version of Windows and feature-wise they add about the same as well. But just because Apple comes out with them at a quicker pace than Microsoft, you think Apple is wrong about it? ”

    Yes, because when you are releasing a “new” version of your OS every six months to a year… it’s not a new version you are releasing.

    For example, Leoptard actually BROKE most things wrong with their OS… and yet Apple then shamelessly charged for the next version, which fixed most of the things they themselves broke. The “free” updates never address anything except the most basic of problems (for example, Wireless devices are still broken using Leoptard).

    I don’t hate Apple, there’s just very legitimate problems with the way the company does business, especially compared to it’s PC based competitors. The problem is that most people buy into the whole “aura” of having a cute cuddly Mac, and have to lie to themselves that Apple platforms are somehow magically more secure (they aren’t, by a longshot: part of this is Apple making sure vulnerability reports are kept secret, sometimes for years, meaning there are hundreds of known but officially undisclosed exploits out there).

  71. dmunsie Says:

    @JSG:

    “For example, this review is comparing the MacBook with a 1066 FSB to computers with an 800 or (!!!) 677 FSB. Of COURSE the MacBook is going to seem faster! The FSB is the determinate for the computer’s speed, even moreso than the processor speed. Putting a fast processor into a 677 FSB motherboard is putting lipstick on a pig.”

    So what you are saying is that the author’s findings that the MacBook isn’t over-priced compared to Windows laptops is incorrect because for roughly the same price, Apple puts in *BETTER* spec’d components? So, would that mean that they are under-priced instead of evenly priced as he originally stated?

    At least be consistent in your arguments…

  72. dmunsie Says:

    @JSG:

    “For example, Leoptard actually BROKE most things wrong with their OS… and yet Apple then shamelessly charged for the next version, which fixed most of the things they themselves broke. The “free” updates never address anything except the most basic of problems (for example, Wireless devices are still broken using Leoptard).”

    Leopard *is* the latest version — Apple hasn’t charged (shameless or not) for the next version because there is no next version yet.

    “Yes, because when you are releasing a “new” version of your OS every six months to a year… it’s not a new version you are releasing.”

    Again, Apple isn’t releasing a new version of their OS every six months to a year — it was 2 and a half years between Tiger and Leopard.

    Please, at least take some time to do some basic research here before posting — if you still have issues with Apple, that’s fine. But at least I can take you more seriously if your not basing your issues on fantasy.

  73. Paul Says:

    Heh, for the price point on the macbook, I’d always thought that it was a pretty competetive price for a 13″ notebook. Move up to the macbook pro, either the 15.4 or he 17″ and it’s a different story. The base price on the 15″ is 1,999 and the 17″ is 2,700. Comparable Dells sell for the entry price of 600ish and the 17 around 750. No comparison there. To take it even further, dells XPS M1730(dells high end model) it very similarly configured has a base price point of 1,999. 750$ less that Apples 17″ offering. I like apple, the have some cool stuff. I’ve actually been pondering getting a macbook. I wouldn’t even consider a macbook pro. There are some flaws in my argument no doubt, A more similarly configured XPS model will set you back 2,300. But you can get a similarly configured studio17 17″ model for around 1,400$.

  74. Tyrone Says:

    These price comparisons always come out right when Apple releases a new model and they always conclude that the apple is pretty fairly priced which is usually true when they first come out. Apple usually includes specs that are near the top of the price range. The thing that changes is 6 months from now Apple will still be charging $1299 for the exact same config while all the other manufacturers will have either dropped their price and/or upgraded the hardware. Another thing to note the differences would be the cost of upgrades for the exact same thing. Dell charges $75 for an upgrade from 160GB to 320GB, Apple charges $200. Dell charges $100 to upgrade from 2GB to 4GB, Apple charges $150. Really i see it as a lack of options. Dell sells cheaper computers with little to no margin as a way to get customers and hope to sell them something extra which is not an option with Apple. They know they have a good product and charge accordingly. This is not to say I don’t think Apple’s are worth the extra cost. I think they are worth it but I will always buy my Apples when they are first released and will do my own HD and memory upgrades.

  75. JSG Says:

    @dmunsie

    “Leopard *is* the latest version — Apple hasn’t charged (shameless or not) for the next version because there is no next version yet. ”

    Perhaps you can explain to us what “Snow Leoptard” is going to be, and how much it won’t cost. Or not, since it doesn’t support your position.

    “So what you are saying is that the author’s findings that the MacBook isn’t over-priced compared to Windows laptops is incorrect because for roughly the same price, Apple puts in *BETTER* spec’d components? So, would that mean that they are under-priced instead of evenly priced as he originally stated?

    At least be consistent in your arguments…”

    The problem is that you are confused on what I’m saying. I’m not attacking Apple, despite all your spin to paint it that way. My point is that this “review” isn’t comparing like products (which I even pointed out would likely support Apple’s value-per-dollar comparison, something your zealotry-based reply totally ignores).

    Apple isn’t perfect. Sorry to see that offends you, but things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows in the reality based world.

  76. dmunsie Says:

    @JSG:
    “Perhaps you can explain to us what “Snow Leoptard” is going to be, and how much it won’t cost. Or not, since it doesn’t support your position.”

    Right now, Snow Leopard is an unreleased product — Apple hasn’t committed to a release date and/or price. We could say the exact same about Windows 7 at this point as well.

    I do know one thing — it certainly won’t be another yearly $90 service pack as you claimed in your original post. It’s been a year since Leopard was released, and Apple hasn’t even announced a ship date yet for Snow Leopard.

    Apple first talked publicly about Leopard in June of 2005 and released it in October of 2007. Apple first mentioned Snow Leopard in June of 2008. If it follows the Leopard model, that means October of 2010 for a public release. At that point, Leopard will be 3 years old. Certainly a reasonable amount of time for a major revision of a mainstream OS.

    “Apple isn’t perfect. Sorry to see that offends you, but things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows in the reality based world.”

    I never once said that Apple is perfect — I just prefer to ground my discussion with facts. Again, you are still wrong on some basic facts here, and you’ve spun it as me being an Apple zealot instead. Like I said before, if after looking at all of the facts you still find fault with Apple, that’s completely fine. That would be the start of a good discussion — one that I would be happy to have with you. But to base your argument on outright misrepresentations means that you probably have some other agenda to push.

  77. Brandon Says:

    @Joe and others…

    Yes, any old laptop that will do email and word processing that you can pick up at any Best Buy or office supply store WILL be cheaper than an Apple laptop. Why? Apple does not compete in this market. Apple does not offer low cost laptops. Apple’s cheapest laptop is still a high-end laptop. The MacBook is Apple’s low end, but it’s not the market low end.

    When comparing Apple laptops to the competition you have to compare them to middle to high-end PCs because that is the market to which Apple appeals.

    I drive a little Mazda. I do not drive a Lexus. My Mazda performs most of the core functions a Lexus does at a much lower cost. There are a number of very cool things a Lexus will do which my Mazda does not. The Lexus is a much higher quality product than my little Mazda. The Lexus is out of my market; it’s not even on my radar. Why? Lexus doesn’t market to me, they don’t price for me, and they don’t sell to people like me. Now, that’s an extreme example because the CHEAPEST Lexus is at least twice the cost of my little Mazda.

    Comparing Apples to Dells and Lenovos is a little different. The cost of a computer is much lower than that of a car, and major differences have much smaller financial impact as a result. Apple is sort of a Lexus computer maker, though, just as the Dell XPS line is to their Inspiron line the same thing a Buick is to a regular Chevrolet. There’s room enough in the market for players to sell to the high or the low end, or to both. The high end has higher margins and the low end is cut-throat. Apple is not interested in playing cut-throat pricing games with competitors, so they only play in the high-end market. And because a $1,500 laptop is a much more reasonable luxury purchase than a $40,000 car, the decision to choose a better built, fancier laptop SHOULD BE less divisive than it apparently is.

    The people who can find room in their budgets for Apples often do buy them. Many software developers I know use Macs because they can run OS X, Windows, and Linux across various VMs and it makes software development, particularly compatibility testing, much easier. And given that they are likely to pay for fancy hardware anyway, there is really, for them, no Apple Tax at all.

  78. Alberto Ferrer Says:

    Here at my country is CRAZY buy a mac, prices start at 3000 USD. So is more expencive if you dont live on USA.

  79. Mr.BiG Says:

    You mac fanbois can knock windows all you want, but at least M$ is willing to allow you to install the OS on your smugbooks and smugbooks pro.

    Even if they are charging you for it, at least they don’t restrict you to use hardware that cost 10x as much as you could purchase else ware. And thats the point most of you mac drones are missing.

    Say it aint so.

  80. samurizo Says:

    Another point worth considering: the OS X Tax… the price you have to pay to run OS X legally on a laptop.

    IMO a lot of people simply don’t care how fast their CPU is (most of the CPUs sold today are fast enough for almost everything the average wants to do) or if there’s 2 or 3 GB of RAM in their new Notebook. But they care about the OS. I know many people (and I’m one of them) who would rather use OSX than Windows but who are not willing to shell out 950 Euros for the cheapest Macbook.

    For comparison: at the moment I own a HP Compaq C700 (Pentium Dualcore, 2 GB RAM, 160 GB HD, 15,4″ Display). It’s not the fastest Computer you can get but it’s fast enough for me – even Creative Suite CS3 runs fine. And I bought it for 550 Euros. The only thing I dislike about it is Windows…

  81. Nobody Real Says:

    While the 13″ is in fact fairly well priced for it’s price range, it completely ignores the fact that the larger models are totally out of whack pricewise.

    I just bought a 16″ Sony Vaio with 4GB of memory, 300GB hard disk, Blue Ray, HD video, HDMI, true 16:9 aspect ratio, Wireless, bluetooth, the works.. for $1200.

    You can’t get a mac anything with similar specs for anywhere near that price (and Apple dosn’t offer Bluray or HDMI)

  82. Bryan Says:

    I went through some of the same lines of thinking when deciding what laptop to buy for my wife (just not in such detail). I came to the same conclusion – that for the quality the MacBook is not overpriced (got her the white MacBook back in Jan). Compared to my experiences with Dell computers – having to habitually call tech support for hardware incompaitibility and falure issues – and deal with viruses, bloatware, etc – it’s saved us A LOT of headaches so far. Guess that’s one of those things it’s hard to put a price on, how much is your time worth?

  83. Supreme Says:

    The comparison is unfair because of the limited amount of 13″ laptops. If you compared desktops or 15″+ laptops it would be obvious.

    Also we all know Macs are the Playstations of applications and should be called MBOX. Get a real computer.

  84. allegrahates Says:

    I purchased my first laptop (a now-obsolete black macbook) for college, and I’m the only one on my floor who hasn’t already (two months in) had to call tech support. When we had to configure our computers to access the DSL internet line, I was able to do it instantly whereas the PC users had to attend seminars explaining all the hoops through which they had to jump. My internet still runs faster, I have no software issues and I find that OSX is easier to use the first time than XP or Vista were after years of practice.

    My old desktop computer (a Dell) was state-of-the-art when I purchased it two years ago, and the Dell warranty covered NONE of the repairs it needed. The two CD/DVD drives stopped working almost immediately (six hours on the phone later I was told that this was somehow my fault), so I purchased an expensive external CD drive. I had to re-format my computer five times (and I need to say that I am a very conscientious user – I don’t use any P2P filesharing clients, I ran the virus software before opening attachments, etc.), each time hiring someone at a few hundred dollars a pop.

    Meanwhile, my experience with Apple warranties is solid. I’ve owned two iPods over the past five years, and I’ve had them replaced twice (along with countless earbud replacements). Apple has never charged me for shipping, nor were they accusatory the way Dell was.

    Apple’s customer service alone is worth whatever additional costs I had to pay for the hardware. It’s easier to use, I haven’t had to buy any stupid upgrades to make up for failed hardware, and in the long run I’m betting my Macbook will be running much longer than the PC laptops purchased at the same time.

    But what do I know, I’m only the average user.

  85. Aigars Mahinovs Says:

    And now you can also measure the Windows Tax by comparing laptops of equal or similar hardware with full productivity software: Ubuntu Linux (+FSpot, +OpenOffice), MS Windows (+MS Office, +Antivirus, +Web security software), Mac OS X (+iWork).

  86. Eric Says:

    Here is another comparison. You will save almost $1000.00 with this Sony as compared to the new 15″ Macbook Pro. The Mac has a smaller screen and no video output. You need an adapter for DVI ($29.00) or another for VGA ($29.00). The Mac has a better video card but not by much.

    Here is the 16.4 ” Sony VGN-FW190 at $1059.00

    2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 6 MB Cache
    1066MHz frontside bus Speed
    2 GB DDR2-SDRAM (DDR2-800, 2GBx2)
    250 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive [5400 rpm]
    DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW
    Full HD display
    ATI® Radeon HD 3400 Series graphics with 256MB of dedicated video RAM
    HDMI and VGA out
    WLAN (802.11a/b/g/n) with integrated Bluetooth® technology
    16.4″ extra-widescreen display
    Built-in stereo speakers
    Built in camera and mic
    5 hour battery life
    http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=8198552921644570896&parentCategoryId=16154

    Here is the new 15″ Macbook Pro at $1999.00

    2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 6 MB Cache
    1066MHz frontside bus speed
    2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM – 2x2GB
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  87. Anonymous Says:

    Journalists need to not post articles comparing the Macbook with DDR2/667MHz machines with integrated graphics.

  88. curiousjoel Says:

    My iMac remains my favorite purchase of all time, yeah maybe I could have saved money buying a generic tower, but the stability and aesthetic design are more than worth the price differential. Also, Windows Genuine Advantage is pretty much the worst thing ever.

  89. web Says:

    I notice that when this gentleman added options (to the Dell system in particular) to make it comparable to the Mac at a cost of $25 here and $25 there he always did, yet when the Mac needed an extremely expensive ($99 or more) add on to achieve parity he only mentioned it and didn’t add it to the overall price of the Mac. That is a very blatant effort to bring the prices in line and it should be noted that after adding the options to achieve parity the Macs are indeed more expensive. His conclusion that they aren’t is flawed.

  90. snowjob Says:

    Of course MAC’s are more expensive, just look at the price (Duh)

    Do I use windows and mac’s – yes. Do I have a personal preference- yes. I would prefer to use a Mac for reasons such as quality of software and hardware. I help many relatives with their new and old windows computers and I never, repeat never have to futz with my mac.

    I choose to pay more for less futzing.

  91. Hans Says:

    I always used to stick to PC’s and used to believe the line that Mac’s were over-priced designer hardware, that you could probably get better and cheaper as a PC and that the extras you get with Macs are just fancy unnecessary addons.

    Saying that, my company offered me a new laptop, as my Compaq broke and I tend to work from home in the evening (so obviously it was in their best interest to offer me a new one ;) ). Anyhow, I decided to give the Macbook a try, since it was a freebie. Why not? If I didn’t like it, I had the choice to return it and get a normal Windows laptop.

    Well, I haven’t. I’m a convert and I feel embarrassed for having been so disparaging to Apple users in the past. What Apple offers, I think, is the best there is to the average user. The few extra hundred or so dollars are more than worth it, since you get not only a very well designed machine, but OS X is really what I feel has the best of all worlds of any operating system out there for the average person and for typical use. The only reason I see anyone wanting to run Windows is for games, but that may very well change with Apples new nVidia chips and I think Apple has seen the wisdom in doing this.

    Anytime anyone asks my advice on what to get as a new laptop, I can’t help but recommend a Mac. Sorry if this sounds a bit like an advert, but I really do feel this way.

  92. Pedro Pablo Says:

    That might be true in the U.S. and some European countries but in the rest of the world is not even remotely true.
    Take for example the case of my country Venezuela. The cheapest MB does not drop the equivalent of $ 3,000 in the wrong so-called “authorized distributors.” And not just those that suffer MB, iPods Classics costing the equivalent of $ 650. the MB air, is sold by 4.656$.
    It is really fun to think that MS hired J. Seinfeld to boost its sales, at least in Latin America have nothing to fear because Apple has completely abandoned this area of the world

  93. Huh Says:

    “since personal preferences (and hand size) play a major role when it comes to input, but I think that that the MacBook’s innovative touchpad gives it the ADVANTAGE”

    You have got to be kidding me? Totally unintuitive, I need more fingers than I have (well almost) to do basic tasks, I need to move my hand AWAY from the keyboard to move the mouse pointer… How can this thing be innovative? Seriously.

    I’ll take the IBM/Lenovo Trackpoint/touchpoint/clit/whatever-that-red-thing-in-the-middle-of-the-keyboard-is-called anyday over ANYTHING that makes me MOVE my hands AWAY from the keyboard.

    Yes, its pretty, yes its cool, no its NOT very functional nor usable in the long run.

  94. John McCain Says:

    Dear friend,

    you know that we had our different views on certain political subjects I have to ask you for a favor.

    The polls are really looking bad for me and Sarah and God knows what we tried to change the opinion of the American people but Obama has powerful friends in the Muslim world who are sitting on our oil and squeezing the remaining Dollars out of the hands of our middle class.

    I am desperate. I tried everything but the Arabs’ money is just too much. I fear, Obama will win the elections if not a miracle happens.

    So I beg you to help me, be a white patriot at least and support me and Sarah. You know that my campaign has proof Obama is not a natural born American citizen and therefore can not be elected president. The Democrat Philip J. Berg and Michael Savage found out that Obama lied about his birth certificate but nobody listens.

    I appeal to your honor as member of our white race to support us and spread everywhere that Obama is not a natural born American. It’s my last hope to safe America from Muslims and Negroes after my campaign failed to bring the information to the American people that Obama is a Muslim, a terrorist friend and a guaranteed tax raiser.

    Don’t be a cunt, help me!

  95. kj Says:

    I work for a household name technology corporation. About half the developers use MacBooks. It is common in meetings for them to demo new software using their MacBooks as servers, or to use the MacBooks of other developers back at their desks as servers. And of course, those same people are doing corporate dev on thei MacBooks. I say this for the person who expressed disbelief that anyone would grep on a Mac. Very few of our developers use Windows, although quite a few use Linus on Dell D830s.

    And for the guy who priced a 16″ Dell with “all the ports you can imagine” … Geez. Do you understand that people have different likes, dislikes, priorities? If I wanted a 16″ plastic laptop, I am pretty sure I can find one. Some of you guys are unwilling or unable to comprehend that not everyone has the same preferences you have. To me, 16″ is a huge negative, plastic is a negative – just for those reasons, I would prefer the MacBook. And on top of that, I can use OS X, or Windows, or Linux. The Dell can run two of those three. It is no contest for my needs and preferences, but I won’t ask your ignorant question back at you – “why would anybody buy the Dell??” – because I realize my preferences are not shared by everyone. If you are a gamer and you aren’t interested in OS X, you should buy the Dell.

  96. Jasper Lawrence Says:

    Macintoshes do cost more, whether it is a couple hundred to a one-to-one comparison on a 15″ laptop between Apple and Dell I just did, $700 if one chooses the three-year warranty.

    For me it is worth it. But for me.

    It is worth it because having used both Dells exclusively before and Apple products my experience was far lower reliability and quality from Dell and far more problems with Windows than Mac OS. Far fewer.

    It is always easy to add new hardware on a Mac, literally plug and play and always has been. Not so on my Dells. Software installs same thing, install then use. Not always so on the Dell/Windows machines I have used.

    Viruses and malware. I never think about it using my Macintosh laptop, the issue just doesn’t arise, but I had to think and react all the time on my Windows machines.

    On top of that I find it irritating when Windows thinks it knows better than I and makes me work hard just to do something that on a Mac is allowed and easy. One can see this in Office on the Mac. Get out of my way!

    For me even the extra $700 is worth it to not have to deal with those things and to use a machine I can rely on to work flawlessly. My experience with Apple laptops and desktops is night and day better than my experiences with Dells, a Sony and a whitebox I built.

    If you are broke or poor, or like getting into the guts of a machine then Windows is for you, or Linus. If you want an appliance to turn on and use day after day that works reliably and predictably, then it has to be Macintosh.

    The above article was objective and balanced, and presented all sides well. But to ignore the OS (and I understand why you did) is a little ridiculous. Any of the machines evaluated could run Linux or Windows or OSX with a little work. the big differentiator is the OS.

    And as anyone who has used them all can tell you Mac OS is better.

  97. robinson Says:

    Excellent comparison! Fair, balance, nuanced. Well written and smartly refutes the old saw that Macs invariably cost more. Great work!

  98. morecowbell Says:

    my household has several machines including four ‘consumer’ boxes, three of them laptops. hence, price matters. but so does total cost of ownership. i just retired my powerbook g4 to server duty after 4+ years; my wife still clings on to an iBook, also 4+ years of abuse. total cost of OS upgrades. $199 (family pack) and $99 for iWorks for five licenses serving four boxes. i just recently upgraded the server to leopard for $499 for the limited version. if i had upgraded along the MS windows path, for four machines plus MS Office plus Server, i’d be broke by now. heck, MS licensing costs for even one machine for OS+Prod Suite is at least two if not three times as much as apple. if you got a multi-machine household, that adds up in a hurry. hence, any kind of comparison ought to take at least the most obvious TCO components into consideration. and yes, i am acutely aware the majority of the *nixes are ‘free.’

  99. M-RES Says:

    Eric: you’ve missed a few things in your Sony/Mac comparison.

    Processors are different – the Sony’s is the slower model 2.26GHz P8400, the Mac’s is the 2.4GHz P8600.

    The RAM is DDR3 on the Mac, running at the same speed as the cache. Not the slower DDR2 of the Sony.

    The Mac DOES have video output via the MiniDisplayPort with a choice of adapter. You mention the adapter, but claim it can’t use it for video!? MiniDisplayPort IS video out. The older Powerbooks had DVI and SVideo, but MDP is the new ‘standard’ I guess.

    And then, of course when we talk about graphics – the Mac’s higher end GFX card is a lot better, and then it also has a second graphics card more comparable to the Sony’s. SO 2 GFX cards rather than just the one… hmmm… wonder why there’s a price difference here? ;)

    There are obvious port differences – the Sony has some the Mac doesn’t have, and vice versa, but other than that there’s very little difference other than the ‘brick’ styling of the Sony (1.46″ thick versus the Mac’s 0.95″ thick and 6.47lbs versus the Mac’s 5.5lbs)

    I also have issues with Sony’s cheap build quality for the premium price tag. I’ve had a few Vaios and they’re really shoddily put together for how much you’re shelling out. In comparison all the Mac laptops I’ve owned have been sturdy beasts. I have one I use currently which has been dragged around the world gigging, and it’s only suffered a ding by the powercord where I once dropped it a few feet onto a hard floor. I also have a Mac I salvaged (an old G4 iBook) which had been run over by a car – the optical drive was shot (as was the screen), but the logic board was fine and it network booted ‘headless’ on first try (used VNC to control it and see the ‘display’) thanks to the tank-like quality of the inner framework.

    Interestingly I tried to do the same kind of price comparison when I bought my last Mac to see if I could find something that would beat it on price (so I could haggle with Apple over a deal), but unfortunately once I’d specced the mac up the way I wanted it, the competition were actually all more expensive (generally because it meant going for their highest end machines to get the same kind of CPU and RAM speeds).

    Anyway… I think this is a good article. If you’re looking to save a few notes here and there (in the short term) on a laptop and can live with the Windows experience, or are prepared to reformat, install Linux and try to sort out any driver issues for the hardware, then machines like the Vaio might just do – but I think I’d rather save a good deal more and buy a better-built machine from somebody other than Sony (and their fabled ‘Sony Tax’). If you just want a well built machine that will run every major OS with ease and probably outlast the Vaio by a number of years before retiring to less demanding second-machine duties, then the Mac’s probably a better bet for guaranteed longevity and value-for-money. By the time you’re on your third Vaio, the same Mac will still be useful – my sister is still using a 10 year old G4 Mac that I bought for her second-hand on ebay for about 50 quid a couple of years ago and it does all she needs.

  100. George Says:

    Very good review, but I think you should compare them to the Dell XPS M1330 and not the Inspiron 13.

    But that would just prove that you’re right, they’re all at the same price.

    Good job, Thanks.

  101. 411monk Says:

    Appreciate your work here. One thing to note, I think you prove that the the new macbooks cost more than their counterparts. Is it not more expensive? Last I checked $1299 is more than $1264, than $1194, etc, etc. However, you’re attempt to gloss over this fact, or minimize its importance was well done.

    Typically, “tax” will equate to a “little more” not “a lot more”. That said, you’ve proven quite nicely, that a “mac tax” does exist.

  102. Ingolf Schaefer Says:

    I would like to make anther point here which is relevant for international users. Here in Germany the Macbooks are the only compared models I can buy here.

    I do not know how what to make of this, but it seems that Dell, Sony and Lenovo are not too eager to bring their new laptops to all customers.

  103. Colin Says:

    Buy an old new white MacBook then.

  104. Mr. Atheist Says:

    Harry,

    Good work comparing all these models. I just have to mention that your article should mention (which it kind of implies) that this is for the $1000+ club of computer users. Apple produces high quality stuff that is very reliable. Like a Lexus car. I like my Macbook pros very much but I need to develop software for Windows as well.

    For the sub $1000 users they can only go to Bestbuy and get the $699 laptop special with a 17inch monitor. I am not saying that the laptop is any good but there is simply now way that the sub $1000 users will walk out of the Apple Store with a functioning computer. A mac mini with a Keyboard and Monitor is already above a $1000. These people also do not have high computing requirements but maybe like a larger monitor of lesser quality. Apple Macbooks only go up to 13inches. These people have to stick with the ITouch and Ipods in the Mac Store. Sorry to say so but that is reality of life.

    I just want to spare you future time on this debate because the Mac is for the boys with a fatter wallet periods.

    I hope this helps.

  105. Geneva Says:

    This sounds… interesting :D Lol. Not something that’s gonna be useful for me but then also thanks :P

    Thanks,,
    Geneva

  106. NN Says:

    I’m a long time sysadmin turned IT project manager. I tend to recommend Mac notebooks to anyone looking for a home computer who can afford one. That implies that I do believe there’s a price premium for Apple stuff, especially the non-entry level machines (like the Macbook Pro). But like all taxes, you’re paying it because you’re getting a service in return – Macs are simpler and less stressful for most people to use and far, far easier for a friend or family member to provide remote and in-person tech support for.

    The observation that that is true – and any sysadmin I’ve ever met who’s worked with a variety of systems will back it up – means that someone at Apple has been paid to imagine problems you’ll face, solve them, and fit them into an integrated hardware-software package for you to buy. Why do people imagine that can be had for free? Assuming they are also paid to solve problems for people, why would they want it to be?

    You get what you pay for – and the hardware spec is meaningless except as a component in the process of using the system to do stuff. This is a well-written article, but it’s not the first attempt to do this and it’s really no more successful than its predecessors.

    Sell – or in this case compare – the benefit, not the feature. And a reduced corresponding cost, like stress and support time, is a very material benefit. Most home PC use is governed by informal systems of IT support through relatively informed folks like the ones who will read this column, and their time is finite.

  107. Vinny Says:

    Hopefully this isn’t a dead thread …

    I came across this as I was researching a new laptop for my son for college. I am not a computer person but have built a few desktops and am called upon to fix some minor problems when they arrise on Windows based systems. I have only been exposed to Windows machines but have heard a lot of good things about Apple computers.

    As I read through this I was thinking about my conversations with my son about him wanting a Macbook, he probablly wants the larger one and I too thought that Apple was too expensive. I understand the article’s pupose and some questions pop into my mind.

    A comparison to a 13″ Macbook to a 13″ whatever may be a correct comparison but do people use something that small? I am looking at at least a 15″ display and it seems at this point some sales put a HP 15.4″, Intel P7350 4 GB of ram, 320 Gb hard drive … for around $699. It’s not quite 1/2 price but it is significantly less than the 13″ Macbook ($1299 at bestbuy).

    Is the OS that big of a deal? I run Windows XP on my home computer, work computer and a now defunct laptop and I had no problems. I do understand that Vista is possibly problematic but I don’t have any experience with it. On XP, I am able to surf the web, send emails, write documents, edit photos and do whatever I need to do. XP has never given me large problems. On my work computer it works as I need it to do but I don’t do video editing or use whatever special software that Apple has come to be considered “the machine” for.

    How much computer do you really need? I have a Dell 2.4 Ghz Celeron that I bought new about 3 years ago and other what came standard I just added 1 Gig of memory (total 1.256 Gig) to help it along a little. It is slow at times loading webpages but I think (and not sure) that it has to do with all the graphics/video and or other webpage items. I also am on DSL which isn’t exactly blazing fast compared to others these days. Someone mentioned about a 10 YO Mac, I don’t know how long a (insert name here) Windows laptop will last but my old laptop, a Dell, lasted about 6 years and survived my work ebvironment and being abused by my children … I found it wrapped in a blanket shortly before it died – heat will kill electronic components. I didn’t pay for it but I could have repalced it for $499 to just have a laptop and the new one might have been a better laptop.

    If problem does arrise with software – do all IT departments know Apple OS software? This is a prime concern with anything technical along with compatability issues. If the answer is no and I don’t know the answer – this is a major factor as well, if my son is in a college where Windows is the preferred OS – can he get local troubleshooting or will he have to get the computer to an Apple store or send it out. I did work with one person who had an issue with her internet provider and nobody who she talked to at the internet company knew the Apple OS to help her.

    I mentioned compatability – It seems that Microsoft Office has become “the standard” in intergrated office products and I know that it is available in the Apple OS. Are all other major (don’t know what this might be) software Windows and Apple OS available? Is there a price difference?

    I guess I’m biased toward Windows based products as that is all I ever used. I know people who use Apples and swear by them. The main concern for me and possibly others is initial cost ($100 is no big deal), longevity (although a lot of people seem to need the latest and greatest), compatability with other devices and tech support if needed.

    If you Apple people think I’m flaming Apple – I really am not. I just can’t understand why pay that much more money ($600 difference between a 15″ HP vs 13″ Macbook) unless you really need to vs buying a computer that serves whatever simple purpose you have.

    I would appreciate it if someone can answer my questions.

    Thanks!

  108. Josh Says:

    I don’t understand why companies such as Dell, Sony, Hp and the rest of them focus less on their own product and development ,when its the main weapon to be able to compete with others out of the field , something that makes them stand out , a strong laptop that satisfies everyone. Why couldn’t they design a computer thats able to beat all the features that a MacBook has. For instant Stability is the one thing that a computer ,Yes I’m talking all the PC users out there doesn’t have .No matter how fast it goes with Bigger Graphic card, Bigger memory, Alot more Rams and Extremely Big hardrive , it still freeze .Part of the problem is the Software it self ,it doesn’t work together like a mac does.

    I’ve been using windows XP for last 4 years with my Sony Vaio, Until i tried to run many programs on an Vaio. it continually freezes and its a heavy big boy that laptop. Until i Switched to MacBook Aluminum , i noticed the differences straight away. Firstly Im obsess with the features that new Macbook has, Secondly its totally environmental friendly and extremely stunning with the outlook , so 100% of it will be recycled after used.Macbook doesn’t freeze at all, not even once, i can run many programs as i can on it .Its fast, stability and most importantly i can run windows as well.Of course price wasn’t a such a big deal for me, even thou i rather something value for money .And the battery it does last for at least more than 3 or 4 hrs. I know with the same amount of money i could buy something better and faster , stronger than this macbook,but to be honest ,i never happier than before with my first Macbook .

  109. Miles Rose Says:

    advantage Mac. its not really a question of what you pay going in, its a question of the cost and more importantly the time spent to keep it running. S–t happens and I would much rather call Apple or go to the Apple store and get answers then deal with some bean counter approved offshore customer service center whose job is to get you off the phone and not really help. But then again windows is a bloated piece of s–t and if MSFT should do what Apple did with OS9 to OSX. I wish Apple wasnt addicted to their 50%+ margins on their hardware, they could sell more and offer more types, ie larger ipod screen, smaller laptops, if they sold more units.

  110. Vinny Says:

    Although I only run XP and have no experience with Vista, I have had very little problems with Windows. I spend maybe 15 minutes every couple of months running some anti spyware or updating one of my virus or firewall programs and thats’s it. I have kids who go on the internet or download stuff from limewire and my computer is OK. I will say that I did have a problem a while back but I attribute that to weak security software – I guess this is what Apple is all about – you don’t need any security software.

    I have not had many issues at all with Windows and if my computer did lock up for whatever reason, I just turned it off, waited 30 seconds and then started it back up again.

  111. Ryan Says:

    I noticed you were careful about what “comparisons” you used in this article. There IS in fact a Mac tax, they are extremely overpriced.

    For instance – at $799 – roughly 50% cheaper than the cheapest Macbook – you can grab and Acer Aspire AS6930 -
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115539

    Gigabit Lan, 250GB Hard drive, 64bit OS, 2ghz Core2Duo, Wireless N, 4 USB Ports, HDMI, 9600M Nvidida (compared to Mac’s 9400m), Webcam, Card reader, 4 GB memory, 16″ larger screen, and the list goes on. Nearly all these specs blow away the base Macbook, and the cost for this laptop is $500 less, more than 50% less cost.

    And around $1600, you can get a Quad core Windows laptop, that will blow away the $2800 Macbook Pro.

    Now the $799 laptop I used as an example was used to show how much MORE you can get for much less than a Macbook with the Mac Tax. But what about similar specs?

    Roughly $499 – substantially less than half the cost of a comparable Macbook.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834115537

    Now, it’s a bit slower processor as it’s not the core2duo,although it runs at the same clock speed. It also doesn’t have quite as fast a graphics processor. But substantially more hard drive space and more memory helps to make up for that. While this isn’t quite as good as the $1300 base Macbook… But it’s damn close.

    There is absolutely a Mac Tax, and it’s nearly TWICE the cost of a comparably spec’d windows based laptop.

    You can’t just run around comparing the most expensive Windows laptops and pretend like they are all priced the same – that’s dishonest and misleading.

  112. Joey Says:

    The fact is that Macs ONLY have premium prices. I have a $299 Toshiba laptop with EVERYTHING I need (except the mac osx os..). Just give me what I want.

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  114. Thomas Quinn Says:

    Some obvious flaws to this a whole article; the author ORDERED the PC's to MATCH the MAC's specs. In other words, the author chose Apple's most cost efficient platform and bread and butter laptop against eveyone else of similar spec. Of course the arguement is going in favor or Apple from the get-go! What if the Author pitted the other manufacturer's bread and butter systems and made a MAC to fit those specs?

    My wife just bought this Mac 3 days ago for 1100 dollars, and Im looking at a MicroCenter catalogue as I write, and i am looking at a handful of choices at similar or greater specs for PC at LESS THAN 600 dollars. Everyone can have their opinion, and mine is that in no way does the apple logo, or OSX's relative easthetic pleasure justify 500 dollars.

    This author, just like too many online "journalists" is just writing an ad for Mac, but just doing it in a subtle enough way to look like an impartial article.

  115. AdAm Says:

    I bought a mac mini. To upgrade the memory from 2gig to 8gig from the apple site, they were going to charge $500. That is $500 for 6gig of memory. They did just lower it to $300. I bought 8gig of kingston for $100. Apple marks their prices up, period. This is very noticeable when you upgrade components on your machine. And for people who want to argue the OS is the reason for the mark up, understand that Mac OSX is around $100. Windows 7 is around $200. Deduct that from the price of the hardware and try, try again.

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  120. sunce Says:

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  121. Tristen Says:

    I know you're looking at the "Mac Tax" but I can still go buy a way cheaper (much crappier) laptop for some very simple task that apple doesn't sell at that price, or… I could buy a ridiculous laptop that cost way more than a mac book pro 17". Verity is why I will buy a regular ol' laptop

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  124. Gillian Dodson Says:

    For me, buying a MacBook is worth your money. My MacBook is already three years old and it is still working properly.

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    [...] site, my colleague Harry McCracken has been doing some interesting price comparisons to see whether the new MacBook is really more expensive than its competitors. His full analysis is worth reading, but the conclusion is pretty [...]

  5. Top Posts « WordPress.com Says:

    [...] Is the New MacBook Expensive? When I first tried to compare the cost of Macs versus Windows PCs, I said that “Are Macs more expensive?” [...] [...]

  6. [MW] Apple profit rises 26% as iPod, Mac sales jump - Page 5 - Overclock.net - Overclocking.net Says:

    [...] that asthetically they look pretty good but I personally just don’t like them very much tbh overpriced? __________________ South Carolina Overclockers – OCN Headphone Club – OCN iPod [...]

  7. Hebben » Waarom Windows 6.1 Windows 7 heet en op Windows V… lijkt Says:

    [...] lees ook deze vergelijking over de MacTax (met dank aan [...]

  8. Internets of Interest: 23rd Oct | My Etherealmind Says:

    [...] Is the New MacBook Expensive? | Technologizer – Harry McCracken concludes the new MacBooks, WHEN compared to Windows machines with the SAME SPECIFICATIONS, is about the same in cost.This is my experience. While my MacBook Pro cost a lot of cash, it was cheaper than an equivalent Dell, IBM, HP notebook. My view – Apple is offering premium product, with premium support and at premium price. I am good with that. [...]

  9. New Apple MacBook - Review | V I O Says:

    [...] a quick word on the price and the so-called “Apple tax”. Harry McCracken has done a great job comparing the MacBook with other machines in the same class and discovers where there might be a cost [...]

  10. Are MacBooks More Expensive? - Air Mass Zero Says:

    [...] author has noted that with the new MacBooks this article is obsolete, but has made a new post comparing the new aluminium MacBook with more similarly-powerful machines. Not surprisingly, it [...]

  11. Vorticity Advection » Blog Archive » Comparing apples to… Apples Says:

    [...] the myth that “Macs are overpriced” was bandied about, I posted a snippet from this article stating that when compared with identically equipped laptops from PC manufacturers, Apple laptops [...]

  12. Latest Microsoft Ad Blasts Apple Tax. Are Macs Overpriced? « battery line Says:

    [...] friend Harry McCracken of Technologizer has analyzed this at least half a dozen times and, in his most recent post on the Mac tax, from October 2008, he points out that the new 13-inch MacBook isn’t significantly more expensive [...]

  13. permadi.com - Blog » Blog Archive » Why I Bought A Mac Says:

    [...] The price.  It’s expensive — though some who has done real comparison have said that’s not true.  For example this Technologizer article. [...]

  14. Microsoft tenta promover PC/Windows como ‘o Mac do pobre’, diz Slate » AppleMania.info Says:

    [...] Mac típico e estima quanto custariam computadores rivais configurados similarmente. Em outubro ele descobriu que o novo MacBook 13” de alumínio — vendido a US$ 1299 — tinha preço bem [...]

  15. So… Mac vs. Windows? « Pittsburgh web design @ visuaLATTÉ | Blog Says:

    [...] here’s the “no, they’re not more expensive”: see this, this, and this. These articles compare Macs and similarly-configured Windows machines, and come away [...]

  16. Zev Mo Bloggin’ » Blog Archive » Hey, Lauren! Is Apple’s 17-Inch MacBook Pro Expensive? Says:

    [...] haven’t returned to this issue since last October, but the moment Microsoft put it at the heart of a major national TV commercial last week, the [...]

  17. New Microsoft Laptop Commercial - JDM Universe.com Says:

    [...] price is your main consideration. and if you still don’t believe me… check out this guy’s blog: Is the New MacBook Expensive?|Technologizer __________________ :: 2004 RSX-S A-Spec – "Andy" :: 1991 CRX Si – "Nathan" [...]

  18. Opinion: Microsoft, Myths, and Marketing Part 2 | World of Apple Says:

    [...] article dealt with pre-October 2008 Macs, but they have updated it with Is the New MacBook Expensive? The MacBook is close in price to the laptops I looked at which it resembles most closely, all of [...]

  19. talbog.com » Blog Archive » wake-up-world-amazons-mp3-store-deserves-better- Says:

    [...] have here, in other words, is a musical equivalent of the computer wars, in which Apple manages to sell plenty of computers at a high price because they’re so much nicer than cheapo Windows competitors. (The comparison doesn’t [...]

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