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The Fictional “Mac Tax” and What That Means for You

Posted by bradringel on May 25, 2009

Laptop Hunters Ad

Laptop Hunters Ad

Some of you may have recently seen a series of ads that was run by Microsoft Corp. entitled “Laptop Hunters.” In these ads, Microsoft challenges a person to go and find the laptop that they want, no matter what brand, and they will pay for the laptop.  This campaign was a shot at the fact that Macs are generally more expensive than PCs.  All of the people in these commercials go to look at the Macs and comment on how cool they look, but how they can’t get as many features, say 4 GB of ram, for their price range, which is maybe $2000 or something along those lines.  Many people in media have called this phenomenon the “Mac Tax.”  The Mac tax is basically the extra money you pay when you buy a computer from Apple, just because its a Mac.  Well I come to you today with important and wonderful news.  The Mac Tax doesn’t exist! That’s right, my buddy Leo did some research while looking at computers to buy, and has found that, at least in this case, with two similarly spec’ed laptops, one a Sony and one a MacBook, the Sony costs more.  Now here is the important nugget of knowledge in that statement, SIMILARLY SPEC’ED.  It is very important that when you do a price comparison between two computers or two anythings really, that you make sure that the items are as similar as possible.  With computers, this includes processor speed, RAM, Harddrive space, and a few other features.  In our tests, we will be comparing a Sony VGN-Z690, with a Unibody 2.4 MacBook.  Please note that the only changes made to the Sony was a bump in memory and Harddrive space, and the only change made on the MacBook was a bump in memory.  Both computers now feature a 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4GB of RAM, 250 GB Harddrive.  Neither video card is upgradable, so we will treat those as the same.  The Sony is running Windows Vista Home Premium, and the MacBook is running the latest update of Leopard.

The MacBook

The MacBook

The Vaio

The Vaio

So here you can see screen grabs of the two product configuration sites.  Note the price difference.  Now note which one is more expensive.  Yup, the Vaio weighs in at $1869.99 and the MacBook comes in at $1699.00. [Edit: realized you can’t see the prices in the screen grabs so you can head to the sites and configure the laptops as such if you dont believe me Vaio (4GB RAM 250GB HDD), MacBook (4GB RAM)]  Other things to note are that the Sony comes with Microsoft Works, a less feature filled office suite than Microsoft Office, while the Mac comes with no office software.  However, the Mac comes with iLife preinstalled, while the Sony doesn’t have apps like GarageBand or iPhoto or iMovie.  The Sony comes with a free 90 day trail of a Virus protection program, and we already know that the Mac doesn’t because we don’t really buy those programs.  Also, the Mac comes with 90 days of Phone support and a 1 year waranty.  I couldn’t find anything about support on the Sony page, so lets assume that it also comes with a 1 year.

What does this mean for you?  Well this means that you can finally shut up your Windows loving friends about how much more expensive Macs are than PCs.  Okay so maybe you can’t shut them up because this is only one example, but it is still a good example about the importance of knowing how to compare different models.  In those Microsoft commercials, the customer wanders over the Mac section of the store, usually Best Buy(and really, the best place to buy a Mac is the Apple Store anyways, but sometimes you have to make do), and they comment about how they can’t get the same amount of features for the same price as the Windows computer they were looking at over there.  Like this girl wants 4 GB of memory for her video editing, but she can’t pay for the MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM because its abover her price range, but this PC over here has the memory she wants.  I mean, these are Microsoft commercials, so it would be rather sad if the customer ended up picking the Mac, but still, these are not fair comparisons.  I saw a quote in response to these ads from Apple (I’m sorry I don’t remember who, help me out if you can) saying that if you get the computer for the price you want, but it doesn’t do everything you wanted, then you didn’t get the best deal, or something along those lines.  I would have to agree.  If that Windows laptop is going to do everything you ever wanted it to and more, and you paid less than I did for my MacBook, then you got the best deal.  But if it has the memory you want, but ultimately it ends up being slower due to a processor speed, then you didn’t really get the best deal, and you weren’t making informed decisions.  Right now I’m just rambling for no reason, but here’s the kicker:  Don’t take everything you see on TV to be true.  You can find the right Mac for you just the way you can find the right PC for you.  Make an informed comparison and think about what you really need.  When I first went shopping for my Mac, I thought I needed the extra power that the MacBook Pro offered, but ended up saving money and walking away with my MacBook and couldn’t have been happier.

Thats all I have for you guys, thanks for reading.  If you have ideas for posts, leave comments or send me an email at


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