I sent a series of tweets recently inspired by two things:
- My search for a MacBook-like PC to run Windows 7.
- My realization that no such PC exists for a lot less money than a MacBook, though everyone (including many who should know better) seems to repeat this nonsense.
Below are the the tweets:
- Dear WSJ and tech pundits: You can’t get a MacBook-equivalent PC for a lot less money; you only get a lesser one.
- I’m sick of these low-voltage 1.3 GHz no-power laptops being treated as MacBook equivalents. It’s BS.
- I’m sick of PC laptop starting prices of ~$650 when they use old or weak processors, old WiFi, have no Bluetooth, etc.
- Closest is an HP Dv3t configured similar 2 MacBook @ $900 with lots of HP giveaways. Nice, but not a lot less $$.
- The HP has more drive space and RAM. The MacBook has better battery, trackpad, smaller, lighter, unibody.
- My point is when you’re within $100 on two laptops, take your pick, but the cheaper one is hardly a no-brainer.
- Oh, and Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo models comparable to MacBook are priced higher.
- Summary: Go thru PC makers’ lengthy BTO process; see what you really get b4 claiming a MacBook for a lot less.
The summary nails it. As you go through all the BTO screens for so many models, you find where each promising PC either falls off the list (e.g., no Core 2 Duo processors, no LED screen), or the price keeps adding up as you configure it like a MacBook.
Think about this: What would a MacBook cost if Apple used an older Intel processor with just 2MB cache (or a low-voltage Centrino or Atom processor), slower DDR2 800MHz memory, Intel graphics, WiFi 802.11 b/g (not “n”), no Bluetooth, a weak battery, a tray CD drive, etc.? That’s exactly what PC makers do to create the low-end machines they (and a willing press) love to tout so much. And don’t even get me started on the big, heavy, lumbering beasts touted for having 15″ screens even though they have the resolution of a 13″.
Regarding the HP mentioned above, CNET configured one that was the same price as a MacBook. Theirs had a slower CPU, but like mine had more hard drive and RAM. They didn’t even list the MacBook’s great 7-hour battery, incredible glass trackpad, or unibody construction as advantages. Yet for the same amount of money HP didn’t include any of those things. In other words, CNET undersold the MacBook even as they acknowledged getting a PC close to it requires spending similar money!
I’m not blasting the PC makers. It’s a cutthroat industry for them; they need to make dirt cheap machines because they have to advertise dirt cheap prices. But one thing is crystal clear: if you don’t use yesterday’s technology, or drop features, or skimp on the battery, etc., it costs money. There is no MacBook-like PC for $700.
I wouldn’t care as much about this if a buyer knew what he was getting. But given the current tech reporting a lot of buyers think they’re getting a “MacBook” for much less money, and that’s pure, unadulterated crap. I’m disappointed the tech pundits haven’t seen the same trends I have and called it what it is.
Meanwhile, what I’ve learned from this exercise is simple: if your budget won’t allow a ~$1K machine, skip the cheap laptop crap and go straight to a netbook. Yes, they also use weak processors, low-cost components, etc., but at least they’re priced like it. Further, they’re smaller and lighter than a laptop, so they have a tangible advantage cheap laptops don’t.