Now, to forestall all of the Mac bigots out there, don't bother. I'm one too. You'd have to drag me kicking and screaming to use a Windows machine as my daily driver. But I like to find out the true cost of what I'm buying and I was intrigued by rogerv's thoughtful response to my last blog entry. So in the end, Apple's indifferent support for Java was just the push I needed to at least take a look at what I could get for my money. I've now spent a few hours of my life -- hours I'll never get back -- wading through a bunch of ugly, hucksteristic PC vendor websites collecting this data. You owe me bigtime, because now you don't have to. If you're looking for a decent on-the-road development machine, this is I think a pretty good sampling. These all have 4GB RAM and have generally the same features except where noted.
|ASUS L50||2.53 6MB L2||320GB 5400 rpm||14.76x10.4x1.6||1440x900||9400M GT 1GB||DVD RW||$1299|
|Sony Vaio FW||2.66 6MB L2||320GB 7200 rpm||15.1x10.3x1.46||1600x900||3650 512M||DVD RW||$1329|
|Lenova ThinkPad T500||2.80 6MB L2||250GB 7200rpm||14.1x10.0x1.3||1680×1050 CCFL||3650 256MB||DVD RW||$1453|
|ASUS G||2.66 6MB L2||640GB 7200||14.76x10.4x1.6||1680x1050||9800M GS||DVD RW||$1699|
|Dell Crapola 1530||2.60 6MB L2||500GB 5400rpm||14.06x10.3x1.38||1440x900 LED||8600M 256M||Bluray||$1979|
|MacBook Pro||2.66 6MB L2||250 GB 7200rpm||14.35x9.82x.95||1440x900 LED||9400M GT 512M + 9400M||DVD RW||$2474|
Damn it. Just what I didn't want to know. Question.. am I really going to fork out an extra $1k for really good industrial design, firewire, and a real Operating System? Especially for a machine that I'll be using to check email at home and support demos?
BTW, the only thing that would even make me consider a move is that I've just installed the Windows 7 beta, and it doesn't suck so bad. If my only choice was Vista, I wouldn't even consider going with a PC. But as I mentioned in comments on the last post, the one thing that would be the hardest to give up is KeyNote.
I think developers are the ultimate hardware bell-weathers. We know the technology, we know what matters and what doesn't, and we're often the first person that other folks consult when they are about to buy a new machine. I was pretty sure that Microsoft was in trouble three years ago when Apple started delivering Intel machines. But I knew they were in trouble when my developer friends also began buying MacBooks. Are we about to witness a reverse of this trend?
I actually don't think these price disparities are typical -- in fact, these sorts of claims never got through my BS filter before; they just didn't stand up to close scrutiny. But now.. PC vendors are in the midst of a price war, component costs are way down as Asian component vendors try to survive on volume and Apple simply hasn't kept up. Instead they're coasting and looking gleefully at the insane margins they'll be racking up over the next couple of quarters. And even though the new add campaigns are stupid and hard to watch, for once Microsoft has a crucial factor on its side: the truth, or a reasonable facsimile at least. But it takes a long time to turn perceptions around and by the time people really begin to do their homework and Apple responds with better prices, the "Apple tax" meme will be burned in. Please Apple, get your prices in line, and do it soon.
Update: One of the ironies here is that Apple seems to to really be sticking it to the high-end users, when the difference on the lower end really isn't that bad. For example, I was able to spec out a Sony Vaio SR machine to the same specs as the 2.4 Ghz MacBook for $1229. That's compared to $1699 or the MacBook w/ 4GB RAM. A 38% premium isn't great but its a lot better than 92% more for the MacBook Pro! I could see grimacing and paying $450 more for OS X, that cool unibody case, keys where they are supposed to be and so on, and in fact if push comes to shove that's probably what I'll do. The new MacBook integrated graphics look reasonably decent and I like the smaller size, but I wouldn't look forward to running Eclipse on the 1280 x 800 screen. On the other hand, I came across the Vaio Z-series -- that one looks pretty sweet..I'm digging the 1600x900 display. But wait, it costs $1869! Hey, maybe that's the lesson from all of this. You want quality, elegance, and functionality you're going to pay for it one way or another...
Update 2: The other thing I learned is that Dells are really over-priced. An XPS similar to the MacBook came in at $1988. So maybe we should be talking about the Dell tax. It doesn't matter because after my experience with the Dell laptop that my old company assigned me I'm never buying another one again.