Linked by mjhi11 on Thu 16th Sep 2010 20:13 UTC
Apple I love OSNews, but it does seem like some of its editors enjoy just a little too much taking a good natured jab at Apple upon occasion (well, more like every chance that particular editor can get). I thought it time for a little good news and analysis about Apple that critics often overlook.
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I'm A Little Surprised...
by mjhi11 on Thu 16th Sep 2010 22:09 UTC
mjhi11
Member since:
2009-08-15

I'm sincerely surprised that the majority of commentary here has focused on hardware pricing. I guess this is because I've failed the first rule of journalism...know your audience!

Of course many of the individuals who follow OSNews.com may very well be able to build a comparably spec'd machine by hand for less. My point was, compared to name brand, industry leaders (such as Dell for example), Apple is in fact competitive. If you don't believe so, give Dell's online configuration tool a spin. You may be surprised.

But let's be fair. The appearance, the materials and quality is worth something too and this is an area where few home-built systems can match Apple.

Take the Mac Mini for example. Small, efficient, elegant. To hand-build something at the same level of quality would be quite a task, not impossible, but quite a task and that's not even considering whether it can be built at a significant discount.

The same thing with the 13" Aluminum MacBook Pro. I purchased it for $1100 and it's been the absolute best laptop I've ever owned. Light, reliable, dependable, built like a tank, fast and in typical Apple fashion "it just works". Yes there are bare-bones laptop kits as well, but I've yet to see a hand built laptop that is as well-engineered as my MacBook Pro.

Of course someone can always built a cheaper mouse trap, but does it work as well as the competition, is as durable and retains its value over the long term?

Every Mac I've bought in the at least the last 5 years is still in use, operational and productive, looks as good as new and none have needed a single repair. I can't say that about the 2 PC based laptops that I've used during the same period (keyboard replaced on one, wireless card replaced on the other, cracks in the plastic casing, loose screen hinges, broken latches) not to mention weighing almost twice as much as my MacBook Pro and with power supplies that are almost as big as my laptop and weigh almost as much as the laptop as well.

So let's make sure we're comparing apples to apples (no pun intended, I only wish to be that clever). Yes I'm sure the smart readers of OSNews.com can probably build a system less expensive, but I contend that building one as well designed, reliable, dependable, elegant and in similar form factors has been difficult for Apple's many competitors to date, and poses some challenges to the home builder as well.

How abou the other points made in the article? I enjoy the feedback!

Reply Score: 4

RE: I'm A Little Surprised...
by No it isnt on Thu 16th Sep 2010 22:35 in reply to "I'm A Little Surprised..."
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Instead of looking at an Apple and then trying to get a different brand with equal features, do it the other way around. Put together a nice Dell that does what you need it to do, and then see what you have to pay for a Mac of similar performance. Voila: now the Mac is ridiculously expensive.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: I'm A Little Surprised...
by Morgan on Fri 17th Sep 2010 01:31 in reply to "RE: I'm A Little Surprised..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's because Apple bends you over the fence with their upgrade and CTO pricing. It's common knowledge among Mac heads that you should buy the Mac stock and get your upgrade components third party.

I remember way back in '05 when I bought a G4 mini, I had configured it up with the specs I wanted and it was close to $1000 for a machine that started out at $499. I backed up and just bought it stock plus WiFi/Bluetooth (those were optional on the first G4s), and maxed out the memory and hard drive aftermarket. After throwing in the cost of the two putty knives, I came to a grand total of about $700. That was a savings of nearly $300!

In short, NEVER configure-to-order a Mac. Buy it stock and upgrade it yourself, and you'll stay within the realm of comparable Windows PC prices.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: I'm A Little Surprised...
by theTSF on Sat 18th Sep 2010 15:15 in reply to "RE: I'm A Little Surprised..."
theTSF Member since:
2005-09-27

The issue isn't that Macs are more expensive then PC's it is that there are not many models of macs to choose from. You are correct if you build a PC to fit what you need it do it will be cheaper then a Mac.

However the thing complaint is Apple is marking their hardware up just because it is a Mac. And that is untrue. because as the studies go if you try to match all the specs of a Mac into a PC you get about the same price. So when you are buying say $500 more for a Mac it is because you are get $500 more technology (wether it being smaller or faster)

Apples issue has been the limited models available. Or the lack of truly custom built systems. That isn't the MacPro.

So to get the best bang for your buck and you know what to get Getting a PC now adays with Windows 7 or Linux if you want to go that route, and your time to try to figure out what will truly fit your needs chances are you will get a good deal on a PC. However if you get a Mac you will get more then what you need. And sometimes that is a good thing as you may find that the new feature you though was a joke is actually quite useful. Or (like my lighted keyboard) a feature you could do without.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: I'm A Little Surprised...
by Finchwizard on Thu 16th Sep 2010 22:42 in reply to "I'm A Little Surprised..."
Finchwizard Member since:
2006-02-01

It's impossible to show some people reason.

And I agree with you.

Apple seems expensive. Particularly if you're comparing PURELY hardware. Then again you're not just paying for hardware are you. You're paying for a very well designed product, the operating system that ties into it, and a machine that lasts easily 5 years.

You will have upgraded twice with a PC and probably past the cost of the initial Mac.

Not to mention their laptops. PC laptops around a School environment I work in, don't last long. They aren't made very well. But hey, at least they were cheap.
Meanwhile the Macs with the aluminum casing are being dropped and bumped into things and just keep working.

People never like to admit that there's more to prices than just the initial hardware purchase. Don't take into the consideration that certain tasks will take half the time. And my time is precious, and expensive ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

alcibiades Member since:
2005-10-12


You will have upgraded twice with a PC and probably past the cost of the initial Mac.

Why would you? Of course you don't. And here is the proof, in corporate or academic environments where computers are not an individual purchase, the replacement life is the same. If you get a mac, you do not have to keep it five years, and if you buy a pc, which is anyway identical hardware wise, you do not get a new one every two. They are on the same depreciation schedule, because, if anything, non-Apple hardware works longer. Better components, mostly.

Wake up, Cupertino, stop blowing smoke!

Reply Parent Score: 4

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

I spilled an entire 12oz latte on a Satellite and it kept on ticking.

Anecdotal evidence but this study didn't surprise me:
http://www.engadget.com/2009/11/17/laptop-reliability-survey-asus-a...

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: I'm A Little Surprised...
by ciplogic on Thu 16th Sep 2010 22:48 in reply to "I'm A Little Surprised..."
ciplogic Member since:
2006-12-22

+1
I've bought a Mac Book for 1000 euros (in EU) and because the performance even it was somewhat enough, was not impressive, I've bought a Sony Vayo product (3 month difference, Sony bought later).
In short differences are like this:
Mac/PC:
CPU: Core 2 - 2.13 / Core i5 540M
RAM: 2 GB DDR2 / 4 GB DDR3
Graphics: NV 9400M/ NV 330M
Screen: 1280x800 / 1920x1080
Screen diagonal: 13 inch / 15.4 inch
Hard drive: 250GB / 500GB
To be fair the OS X may be cool and it has not installed Office 60 days evaluation version or other bloatware.
But as far as pricing goes, I really could not find a high res Mac laptop display on less than 2000 euros.
Another problem with Macs is that they don't offer low ends, like the healthy netbook market. Bobcat CPU from AMD shows this: we need laptops with good top to bottom hardware and working. We need innovation and not being someones cherry picking of our options.
The specs that are mostly missing in "PC"s are mostly the style that you pay that much, and some finesse things. In rest, I do agree that prices are fairly looking bad to Macs in general, but for users I think that OS X is priceless, enough to pay another laptop for it ;)

Edited 2010-09-16 22:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: I'm A Little Surprised...
by Morgan on Fri 17th Sep 2010 01:53 in reply to "RE: I'm A Little Surprised..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

As you said, you bought the Vaio after the Mac, and you didn't say exactly when the purchases were made, just that they were three months apart. I'm going to assume you bought them a little less than a year ago, as the MacBook you describe is a mid-2009 model.

So, a few points:

* You're not going to get a 1920x1080 screen at 13 inches, Mac or PC; you're comparing a 15" to a 13" and complaining about the difference in resolution?
* Apple has yet to put a Core-i series processor in the MacBook line; they reserve that for the MacBook Pro line, which does have a 15 inch model.
* The current MacBook has NV 320M graphics and DDR3 RAM; as I said I'm not sure when you purchased each machine but I felt it was worth mentioning.
* You never mention what you paid for the Vaio; the one my sister has is roughly comparable to the MacBook that was in production when she bought it and the Vaio was about $100 more expensive.

Another problem with Macs is that they don't offer low ends, like the healthy netbook market.


Well Apple has always said they wouldn't know how to make a sub-$500 laptop that wouldn't suck. My personal view is that the MacBook is their netbook: It's their lowest end model, it has excellent battery life, and considering that netbooks have steadily risen in both screen size and price -- they now average $600 when you look at all laptops marketed as "netbooks", including 12" and 13" models -- I'd say it falls neatly into the high end of the netbook market.

And you're right about something else too; for most Mac users, it's as much or more about the OS as the hardware. That's definitely the case for me.

Reply Parent Score: 2

reconciliation Member since:
2009-07-02

"Of course many of the individuals who follow OSNews.com may very well be able to build a comparably spec'd machine by hand for less. My point was, compared to name brand, industry leaders (such as Dell for example), Apple is in fact competitive. If you don't believe so, give Dell's online configuration tool a spin. You may be surprised."
I don't care much for apple or dell, but I did do that.
I compared some iMac (3.2GHz i3, Radeon HD5670) to a machine by dell (3.06GHz i3, Radeon HD5450). Turns out the dell machine costs roughly €600 while the iMac costs roughly €1700.
Unless I'm missing an included 50" Plasma TV the iMac seems like a bad deal.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: I'm A Little Surprised...
by NeoX on Thu 16th Sep 2010 23:52 in reply to "RE: I'm A Little Surprised..."
NeoX Member since:
2006-02-19


I don't care much for apple or dell, but I did do that.
I compared some iMac (3.2GHz i3, Radeon HD5670) to a machine by dell (3.06GHz i3, Radeon HD5450). Turns out the dell machine costs roughly €600 while the iMac costs roughly €1700.
Unless I'm missing an included 50" Plasma TV the iMac seems like a bad deal.

Really? Do you have a link? I didn't think they made all-in-ones that were anywhere near as good as the iMac. Was the Dell a 27" HD display with all in one form factor?

Show the link so I can check it out...

EDIT: Oh wait Dell used to make the XPS One, which WAS a competitor to the iMac. I say WAS because they don't make it anymore. Oh and when they did sell it, less then 3 years ago, it was $300 MORE then the comparable iMac...

Edited 2010-09-16 23:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

DrRippStudwell Member since:
2007-05-08

I can and have built my own computers and installed various Linux distros on them. It's fun to tinker around - if you have the time - but I don't have as much time for that now and prefer to buy Macs because of the quality of their products.

As for the price, well, I live in the U.S. so the price is not as high as it is for my friends who live in Europe. For you guys in Europe, I think it stinks that you are being charged more for the same thing... but I still like my Mac better than the PCs I have bought and built over the years.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: I'm A Little Surprised...
by mrstep on Fri 17th Sep 2010 01:22 in reply to "I'm A Little Surprised..."
mrstep Member since:
2009-07-18

It's like woodworking - sure, I get that you can buy really nice lumber and build a cabinet that's made well and not pay a 'furniture tax' to get it all done for you, but there are actually people who just want a nice cabinet delivered. If you don't take that time for shopping around / assembling / troubleshooting into account, then what you're describing is a hobby, which is absolutely fine, but not a really valid comparison.

If you do just want to buy a pre-build machine, then I have to say most PCs are just not as nicely finished, you're choosing battery-life and size tradeoffs, noise, crappy trackpads, etc., and they take more work to keep them going too. And yes, I've built enough machines myself in the past, have done more development on them all than - I'm guessing - the vast majority of people claiming that Apple customers are all non-technical, and just think this 'tax' proposition is totally ridiculous.

6 years without having to do a reinstall / re-image / fight drivers / etc. is actually worth something, you know? Or not - if it's your hobby to fix PC problems. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: I'm A Little Surprised...
by orfanum on Fri 17th Sep 2010 11:22 in reply to "I'm A Little Surprised..."
orfanum Member since:
2006-06-02

I second that about the MacBook Pro. I know I have said it elsewhere but comparing Sony laptops to Apple's, there's no competition when you take everything into consideration. In 2005 a new, *education*-priced Sony Vaio cost the best part of £1200 (http://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk/Sony_Vaio_S5XP-B_VGN-S5XP-B/version....). A year ago, an MBP 5,1 cost less than a grand under its education pricing scheme.

The Sony gave me heaps of problems

The MBP none.

With the Sony I was calling the IT helpdesk about once a fortnight with some software or hardware problem

With the MBP, just had to get the network connection arranged and off we went.

I have said before also, I may well install Linux Mint on this MBP but in terms of being a very durable and entirely serviceable, robust piece of kit, I would take this over a 'PC" laptop that might 'cost' me in £££'s half the price. Cost is not about what you shell out on purchase. It's the entire lifecycle maintenance investment you have to make while you own and use the equipment, as well as the opportunity cost/benefit of being unproductive/productive as the direct result of owning and employing a certain machine.

I am no fanboy, I am no hater. I am just pragmatic.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: I'm A Little Surprised...
by r_a_trip on Fri 17th Sep 2010 14:32 in reply to "I'm A Little Surprised..."
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

But let's be fair. The appearance, the materials and quality is worth something too and this is an area where few home-built systems can match Apple.

To which, as a techie, I say: Do you want to do computing or look at a pretty picture?

The design is nice, but doesn't enhance the running of the software one iota.

Milled aluminum chasis? Nice, but since playing football with a machine is not required, sturdy, "fugly" plastic is a preferable cheaper option. Never had any mishaps with it. Then again, my mother taught me to treat equipment of any kind well.

It's nice to see what Apple puts out there, but since my ideas of what constitutes a worthwile machine differ day and night from what Apple thinks that should be, they will forever be selling stuff that doesn't answer my needs and therefore they are not a competitive option.

Plus, the "It just Works" department is my department. I make it work, so I don't need Apple (with the associated costs) to do that for me. My free time is cheaper than the hourly wage of tech support. 2 Hours of my free time costs me EUR 0.00. 2 hours of tech support costs me EUR 120.00.

As for retaining value. For me Apple kit doesn't have the value others perceive in it in the first place. For me a valuable machine is one that does its work for as long as it can (which is looong for most stuff I assembled). I don't need high resale value for my old machine just to be able to buy the next slightly improved itteration of it. My machines grow "organically" into what I need them to be.

Reply Parent Score: 5