In Command, Not Control: Why i-Mac and Think You Should Too

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Archive for the ‘Mac General’ Category

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 incommandnotcontrol@gmail.com

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The Big Switch – Why I Crossed Over to the Dark Side

Posted by bradringel on April 14, 2009

The Mac Vs. PC debate is quite likely one of the most heated debates of our generation.  Started years ago, this argument was brought into the mainstream media with a series of ads run by Apple in which two computers are depicted as people, the cooler Mac guy, and the dorky, work obsessed Windows user.  Mac users have laughed at the silly quips that were thrown at the PC and agreed with the ideas presented in the ads.  Macs are better for doing things with your media, are cooler, easier to work with, and also happen to be the #1 notebook on college campuses, while your Windows running computer is only good for spreadsheets.  While not entirely true, these claims do bring some things to light.  While it is possible to run media editing apps on Windows, Mac has them built into its Operation System.  Another claim thrown around is the vulnerability to viruses and how Macs apparently lack this issue.  While true at the moment this may not always be true.  Currently it is not profitable or worth it to write viruses for the Mac platform because of the small market share.  Windows users assure us that as our market share continues to grow, someone will attack us.  But back to the main topic of this post, the switch.

I myself was once a PC user, in fact, up until around a year ago I was pulling hard for that poor PC, typing away on my Dell Laptop.  I knew my OS had issues, but whose didn’t right?  I put up with the frequent trips that my fingers took to the CTL-ALT-DEL keys in order to run my games and have a good time on my PC.  As I rolled around to the middle of my Junior year in High School, I began to realize how sluggish my computer was running.  This had nothing to do with the OS, it was simply the fact that an 80GB Hard Drive with 512 MB of RAM couldn’t sustain me anymore.  I knew it was time for a new computer and began shopping around the Dell website, staying far away from the dreaded Apple.com.  Then I started seeing things on my favourite websites about how Vista ran, and quite frankly, how bad it was.  Not to say that Microsoft hasn’t fixed its bugs by now, but at the time, Vista was a fledgling Operating System that was having its share of problems, as did Mac OS X when it first came out.  Then I started thinking back to those commercials.  Was what they had to say really true?  Could I have an easier and more enjoyable computer experience by switching to Mac?  I flipped over to Apple’s site.  Man, these things are expensive.  I could easily get a more powerful PC for that same amount of money.  At this time I didn’t have a very high opinion of Macs, having only used the ones at my school, which were not new to say the least.   The majority of the iMacs at my school were over 5 years old and not running the latest OS update, Leopard.  Many had G3 processors that ran at 500Mhz and had little memory available.  Not exactly the best example machines for me to play with.  So what did I do? Luckily, there was an Apple Store nearby that I could walk into and play around with the new Macbooks with.  I was thrilled.  Opening up Firefox or Safari took only seconds, and iTunes was a snap.  Add on to that more than double my current Hard Drive space and 4 times the memory and I was sold.  Well, almost.  There was still the price factor.  Some of you may have heard of something called the “Apple Tax.”  That is what we poor ignorant Mac users pay to Apple for no apparent reason, so that we can have our computers.  The fact that you can buy a similarly speced HP or Sony laptop that ran Vista, the price increase was the Apple Tax.  Now I knew that they were expensive, but considering that my Dell cost almost the same amount of money 3 years ago as the Macbook Pro I was looking at (I later settled on a Macbook) I thought I could swing the price factor to my parents.  They bought it, and the four of us, including my brother trooped off to the Apple Store early one Saturday morning to claim our prizes(my brother would get whatever laptop I got).  While in the store, my Dad talked to our sales rep about the High end black Macbook as opposed to the $500 extra Macbook Pro and we decided on two of those instead.  We grabbed our boxes and headed back to the car to open them up and start our boot sequences.  With both Macbooks sitting on the kitchen table, we hit the power buttons and heard the unmistakable chime that told us we were starting up.  The computer booted up in a minute and we sat down to the setup wizard.  Within 5 minutes I had both Macbooks set up on our home wireless network, User accounts set up (complete with pictures from the built in iSight), and was looking at the pretty purple aurora background that shipped with Leopard.  We moved upstairs and grabbed files from my old laptop and my family computer and were done.  We were now ready to do, well anything.  We could record some music, make a photo album…well you’ve seen the ad.

And now I’m sitting here, roughly 12 months from the purchase of this Macbook, with only good things to say.  I love being able to video-chat with friends in iChat, the easy integration of your media from iTunes in the OS, and love love love the drag and drop installation.  I myself have had to re-install Leopard once but didn’t lose any files, while my brother reports no problems.  We loved our Macs so much that we even convinced my parents to switch over to a new iMac when the time came to retire their Dell.  My whole house is now In Command, not Control.

If you have any questions at all about my experience with my Mac or questions about using it, please feel free to leave them in the comments section and I will get back to you.

~Brad

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