Notebook value for switchers

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by mac_hermit, Jan 17, 2003.

  1. mac_hermit macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2003
    #1
    I know it's been discussed a lot, but I wanted to share a comparison I've been doing between an iBook and a Dell notebook to give an example of the cost hurdle switchers face.

    I've only owned Mac's (currently an iMac DV with a 400 MHz G3 running OS9), and have been considering adding a notebook for general use in our home. This would be lots of web surfing, email, letter writing, and probably iLife-type stuff. It occurred to me that having a PC around for access to the zillion PC aps (without having to deal with Virtual PC) might be nice, so I started looking at what Dell had to offer.

    Here's what I found. Dell's 4150 is a very close match in many features to a 14" iBook:

    Dell 4150
    P4M 1.8 GHz
    512K Cache
    512 MB 266 Mhz DDR
    14" (1600x1200)
    ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 with 32 MB
    AGP 4X
    30 GB Disk
    PCMCIA
    1.47" x 12.5" x 10.0"
    5.6 - 6.2 lbs

    iBook
    G3 800 MHz
    512K Cache
    256 MB PC100
    14" (1024x768)
    ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 with 32 MB
    AGP 2X
    30 GB Disk
    Firewire
    1.35" x 12.7" x 10.2"
    5.9 lbs

    Comparing the cost of these systems, including WiFi support, additional memory for the iBook, and an extended warranty (which I really want for a notebook) is amazing:

    Dell 4150
    Base Price $1299 (after rebate)
    Extra Memory included
    WiFi Card included
    WiFi Router $ 110
    Ext Warrenty $ 119
    Total Cost $1528

    This is a special preconfigured system Dell's been offering for several months.

    iBook (from the Apple store)
    Base Price $1499
    Extra Memory $ 150
    WiFi Card $ 79
    WiFi Router $ 199
    Ext Warrenty $ 249
    Total Cost $2176

    The iBook package prices out 42% more expensive than a very similarly equipped Dell laptop! I could probably save about $200 buying mail order to get memory bundled and using a cheaper WiFi router instead of the Airport, but still, this is a much more expensive system than what the PC world is offering. I certainly understand that the iBook is offering me a much better software environment, but I really miss the value my iMac DV was 3 years ago. I also find myself wanting to play a waiting game: if the iBook is this expensive, aren't they sure to drop the prices soon?

    I haven't done a similar comparison between a Dell desktop system and and iMac, but I suspect the Apple premium is even greater in that case.

    I'm sure I'll end up with an iBook, so can I live without the extra memory on the iBook? Is the 256 MB it comes with enough for what I'll be doing? I'd like to buy from the Apple store if I can but I don't want to pay for the memory it takes to make the system reasonable.
     
  2. ELYXR macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle
    #2
    I'd do a "value-retention" study. Go to eBay and see how much a 2 year old laptop from Dell is worth versus a 2 year old Apple. I think you'll find that the Apple is a better "investment".
     
  3. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #3
    Why are you comparing the 14"? Hardly anyone buys that one, the 12" is where the value's at.

    That Dell you listed may be cheaper and more powerful, but how's the battery life? Did you also take into the account that PC notebook chips run at about half speed when they're not plugged into the wall to save battery life?

    Most people know that the 14" isn't exactly the best value, that's why they avoid it. Now go and try to find a 12" PC notebook with the same specs. Chances are it won't have as much VRAM, will most likely not have an internal optical drive (you'll have to carry around a dock for that[​IMG]) and it'll run at full speed no matter if it's on, plus it'll have longer battery life to boot.

    Granted, if you compare the 14" to other PC 14"ers, then the PC will have the advantage, but compare Mac and PC notebook for what their purpose is, that's portability, and the Mac will have the edge.
     
  4. RBMaraman macrumors 65816

    RBMaraman

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2002
    Location:
    Prospect, KY
    #4
    vniow's right. If you want to buy an iBook, get the 12". I, personally, find the 14" to be weird looking. For what you get, the 12" is an excellent value, especially when compared to nearly all PC laptops.

    I would definitely get the extra memory. OS X loves RAM, and the more you put in that iBook, the faster OS X is going to be. I only have 256Mb (Two 128Mb chips), and I plan on removing the 128Mb chip I installed and replacing it with a 512Mb chip. Also, don't buy memory from Apple. You can find it MUCH cheaper anywhere else.

    Also, one quick correction. You have the iBook listed as having a G4 processor when it only has a G3.
     
  5. Glial macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    Haughton, LA
    #5
    Hey the guy that sits next to me in my night class has a dell laptop, he quit bringing it though because his battery would die before the class ended. Hint Hint

    iBook 12.1 800mhz/384mb ram
     
  6. Beej macrumors 68020

    Beej

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Buffy's bedroom
    #6
    How about including the cost of adding FireWire to the Dell?
     
  7. benixau macrumors 65816

    benixau

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2002
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #7
    little story on why to get an apple (long, very long)

    beej:
    {
    most pc notebooks these days have at least one firewire 400 port in them.

    i doubt the dell doesnt being apple main competitor and all.
    }

    mac_hermit
    {
    the ibook regardless of screen size will alst about 5hrs. at a regular school you do about ... 5hrs of actual work with 1hr of breaks. if you charge you ibook at the longest break then it will last the entire day. i know a friend who has a toshibe notebook, he bring it to scchool and uses it only for information processes and technology. i asked him why when the board of education can supply computers for kids in the HSC. he said cause the battery doesnt last in any of the other classes. as is he has to put it on charge after class so he can go to the library and print it off.

    the only notebook apple sells that has a life nearly as ashorts as a pc's life is the 17"pbook. and that can be soley attributed to the 17" screen.

    besides, do you really want to have to configure your network?? in windows??

    i has to once for a notebook. andd i have decided that even though this baby ran faster than a dp 1.25 when it was on the wall, i am getting a pbook 15" 1g w/combo.
     
  8. jaguarx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2003
    Location:
    London
    #8
    I'm switching to a 17" PB.
    Firslty, as stated above, PC notebook batt life is just utterly pathetic. IMHo apple make the only portables that have a real battery life you can work with. Secondly, the software, i've worked with windows and linux for years, i'm sorry but Linux is NOT ready for the desktop and i'm sick to the teeth of windows, XP, 2k, 9x, they're all pretty horrible. I'm willing to pay the extra 50+% for that, and a case that makes everyone drool ;)

    Yes the 17" has a shorter batt life, I'm buying a second batt.
    Gives me a total of around 8 hours.
     
  9. Nipsy macrumors 65816

    Nipsy

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2002
    #9
    Here's my edited cost comparison:

    Dell 4150
    Base Price $1299 (after rebate)
    Extra Memory included
    WiFi Card included
    WiFi Router $ 110
    Ext Warrenty $ 119 (prolly necessary based on my experience with Dell laptops)
    Total Cost $1528 (assuming your rebate succeeds, otherwise $1678)

    I was wholly unsuccessful at locating this feature/price combo, and the machine I configured to match th *books below was well over 2kl prior to rebates.

    This is a special preconfigured system Dell's been offering for several months.

    iBook (from the Apple store)
    Base Price $1499
    Extra Memory $ 85 (http://store.yahoo.com/boundless1/pow51notmem2.html)
    (you can sell your old chip on eBay to recoup another $10-30)
    WiFi Card $ 79
    WiFi Router $ 99 (http://www.mobilemag.com/content/100/339/C1372/)
    Ext Warranty $ 0 ( you have a year to decide on Apple Care, and if a machine is rock solid for a year, it is unlikely to fail in a Warranty covered manner)
    Total Cost $1762

    iBook 12" Combo (from the Apple store)
    Base Price $1299
    Extra Memory $ 85 (http://store.yahoo.com/boundless1/pow51notmem2.html)
    (you can sell your old chip on eBay to recoup another $10-30)
    WiFi Card $ 79
    WiFi Router $ 99 (http://www.mobilemag.com/content/100/339/C1372/)
    Ext Warranty $ 0 ( you have a year to decide on Apple Care, and if a machine is rock solid for a year, it is unlikely to fail in a Warranty covered manner)
    Total Cost $1562

    iBook 12" Combo (from the Apple store)
    Base Price $1799
    Extra Memory $ 150 (http://www.18004memory.com/category.asp?catid=9&subcatid=901)
    (you can sell your old chip on eBay to recoup another $10-30)
    WiFi Card $ 99 (500% speed)
    WiFi Router $ 130 (500% speed) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00007KDVI/scottyaloha-20/002-1402538-6504051)
    Ext Warranty $ 0 ( you have a year to decide on Apple Care, and if a machine is rock solid for a year, it is unlikely to fail in a Warranty covered manner)
    Total Cost $2178

    PBook 12" Superdrive (from the Apple store)
    Base Price $1999
    Extra Memory $ 150 (http://www.18004memory.com/category.asp?catid=9&subcatid=901)
    (you can sell your old chip on eBay to recoup another $10-30)
    WiFi Card $ 99 (500% speed)
    WiFi Router $ 130 (500% speed)
    (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00007KDVI/scottyaloha-20/002-1402538-6504051)
    Ext Warranty $ 0 (you have a year to decide on Apple Care, and if a machine is rock solid for a year, it is unlikely to fail in a Warranty covered manner)
    Total Cost $2378

    The iBook 12" is a value leader here, and a fantastic machine. The 14" is a ugly bloated sibling with a wee bit more battery juice. When looking at the 14" as you have it configured, you're better off dropping $2250ish on the 12" PBook, with RAM and a linksys base station. The Dell is artificially deflated by by $200 because of the rebate. Many iBooks bundles are available which include goodies you can keep (or eBay)

    Furthermore, the Dell laptops have horrible battery life expectancies, so you can expect to buy a new battery every 16 months or so. My Dell laptop now lives in a desk drawer running Windows services, because I got fed up after spending $600 on batteries.

    The only shing attribute the Dell offers is the screen, however, 1400*1050 REQUIRES 20/20 or better at that panel size. (1600*1200 does not appear to be available on the 4150)
     
  10. Mr. MacPhisto macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2003
    #10
    Do you want a true laptop? I can actually run my iBook on my lap. I've used many Dell's and similar PC notebooks and every single one of them will burn you if you leave them on your lap for too long - even through jeans.

    Did you include CompleteCare on the Dell. You'll need it. Those things break quite often. They use cheaper memory and cheaper parts, often times the parts failed tests by the manufacturer - a great way for Dell to increase it's margins.

    Even with the warranty, I've been a consultant for about 5 people who've had Dell laptops recently. They tend to spend at least 2-4 hours JUST ON HOLD, waiting to talk to someone. When they finally get through, they get berated by the Dell guy and have to aggressively fight for Dell to even honor their own warranty. They never get replacements, even if the laptop is gone for 3 weeks. In fact, in one of our contracts, Dell was supposed to replace the laptop, at least temporarily, if it was taken out of our hands for more than a day.

    There are also hidden charges when you buy from Dell. We actually ended up paying over $250 above the "quoted" price - plus tax. They just tacked it on, and would not say a word when we complained.

    The keyboard breaks quite often, even when the user is not a guy who gives it the beat down. The memory has failed, so has the HD, the CD-ROM, the screen.

    There are occasional Apple nightmares, but I've reviewed the statistics and have experienced their quality. Apples hold their value better, because they don't flood the market and people know their machines are built to last.

    It's kind like American cars. Those classics built in the 50s and 60s were made to last forever. In the 70s, American manufacturers realized that if they built cheaper, they'd improve margins and the car would give out sooner, forcing you to spend more $$$ - hopefully with them. Same is true in PCs.

    However, if you wanted a more reliable PC notebook, I'd go with either Sony or IBM - but you will pay more for them. And not everything will function properly because Windows XP still is not great with laptops - and it's a power hog. I get about 4 hours of battery life out of my iBook. I was able to watch Ben-Hur, all 3hours+. on ONE battery before it died. You'd be lucky if you could watch half that on a PC. I bought two batts for my iBook, and have actually never even used the second one. You'll need two batts on a Dell or any other PC.

    And I wouldn't have said any of this six months ago. I used to be a PC sycophant - then I got my iBook because my PC continually crashed in the purportedly "stable" Windows 2000 Pro. I've never had a computer like the iBook - one that always does what I want it to do. The PC will not - guaranteed. It'll frustrate you when you have to go digging for drivers. It'll tick you off when you get your blue screen of death. It'll do the same when your DLLs get corrupted. The screen will never be as vivid and bright as the iBook's.

    You pay more for the Apple - but you pay more for a product that is far, far superior in every single way. It's not made of cheap plastic and it's shell is sturdier than anything on low-end PC laptops. It's got a better design on the touchpad. The Dell's are thinner and far more constricting. It will recognize a network right when it is plugged in, and will jump from network to network with ease. And it will run fine with 256MB. That's all I got, and I've not had any problems are slow down. A Dell with only 256 in XP would give you tons of problems.
    And the iBook will last longer, be more productive, and be worth something when you're done with it. No PC notebook can promise that.
     
  11. mac_hermit thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2003
    #11
    Thanks for the comments everyone. Here's a link to the Dell system I mentioned:
    http://wwwc.dell.com/us/en/dhs/offers/specials_notebook_special.htm

    It doesn't appear to include firewire, so add another $50 for a PCMCIA firewire card, though of course, not everyone would need that.

    As far as 12" vs 14" screens, it's really a personal preference, and 14" is what *I* want. Judging by the selection of systems offered by the PC vendors, 14" or larger is what *most* people want, so Apple's lack of a competitive value at this size is a big issue for switchers, which was my point. Dell's selling notebooks with 14" screens as cheap as $750! I wouldn't want one (slow, heavy), but I'll bet they sell a lot of them.

    Also, if Steve's right (and I think he is) about laptop sales increasing, some of that is going to come from people moving from desktops to more portable, space efficient systems, and they're not going to be looking at a 12" screen as an option. Apple needs to have reasonable desktop replacement systems in their consumer iBook line. Since this is MacRumors, I'll go out on a limb and predict we'll see new iBooks with 14" and 16" screens that include superdrives sometime this year.

    If I were traveling a lot on business, or taking a notebook to classes, the 12" ibook would be a sweet machine, but I'm not, and really want the larger size.
     
  12. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #12
    With the screen being 12" on the ibook, i would of thought the battery would of lasted longer than the 14". Why isn't that so.
     
  13. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #13
    mac_hermit , I know this is gonna sound obvious, but make sure you are paying attention to what you want, and which see which laptop will give you what you want. If the only, or most appealing, aspect of the Dell is price then you are going to be disappointed after you buy it because you bought what was cheaper, not what you wanted.

    I've learned the hardway not to skimp when it comes to computers. The first computer I bought and the first computer I built I cut corners on here and there to save some $ and 6 months later I always upgraded the machines to, or beyond, their "pre-corner-cutting" specs.

    Last April when I bought my first Mac I swore that I would buy the machine I wanted and not cut corners just to save a few bucks. I was looking for a machine to use for FCP so I bought the top of the line QuickSilver. I was in a bit of "shock" after I ordered it 'cause I'd never bought anything that was top of the line before, nor had I ever spent so much on a computer before. And looking back on it now it was the best computing decission I ever made (not neccesarily because I bought a Mac, but because I didn't short change myself).

    I guess my point is if you really like the Dell more than the iBook then you should buy the Dell. If want the iBook, but you buy the Dell 'cause it's cheaper then in a few months yer gonna open the Dell, grumble, "I wish I had the iBook" and wish you'd spent the extra money and gotten something you wanted.


    Lethal
     
  14. RBMaraman macrumors 65816

    RBMaraman

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2002
    Location:
    Prospect, KY
    #14
    I think it's because the 14"'s casing allows for a slightly bigger battery. I could be wrong. This is just an educated guess.
     
  15. Nipsy macrumors 65816

    Nipsy

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2002
    #15
    Well,

    the laptop you're looking at is not 1600x1200, or 1400*1050, it is XGA, which is Windows cryptography for 1024x768, so it is the same screen as the iBook.

    As to the 12" vs. 14" debate, if both have the same resolution, I would opt bigger for the desktop, and smaller for the laptop.

    Try to find volume measurements to assess as well as length/width/height. See if you can find on of these Dell's to play with, then play with an iBook.

    If you feel more comfortable with the Dell, get it. That coupla hundred you save will come in handy when you need a new battery in a year or so, and a new laptop in two.

    By the way, I thought I'd add that my 1992? PowerBook 180 has found a happy new eBay owner, who apparently uses it for the web....1992, was that 286/XT/AT days?
     
  16. Beej macrumors 68020

    Beej

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Buffy's bedroom
    #16
    You're right.

    --

    I think the most important point here has been left out.

    Dell: Windows
    Mac: Mac OS X

    If you still need to think about it after that, you're a crazyman. :)
     
  17. macktheknife macrumors 6502a

    macktheknife

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    #17
    mac_hermit:

    I had actually owned a Dell 4000 Inspiron laptop until I sold it last January to buy a 550 Mhz PowerBook. Here are my thoughts on this issue:

    1. If you plan to play a lot of games, get a PC, period. Sorry to say this, but the state of Mac gaming is quite sad.

    2. You can probably shave a $100 or $200 from the price of the iBook by buying memory and the wi-fi station from another source. No matter what you do, don't skimp on memory! This is especially true if you plan to run OS X.

    3. Dells are not terrible machines: My Inspiron didn't crash all that much and it was fairly speedy (PIII 800 Mhz). That said, not everyone's experience is the same. My girlfriend's one year-old 12-inch Inspiron went crazy on her and her entire system crashed. Dell had to send her a replacement hard drive to "fix" the problem, and the computer hasn't been the same since.

    4. Don't worry about resale value. You buy a computer to use it for work, play, etc. You don't buy a computer to worry about how much it's worth after you use it. I suppose resale value would be an issue if you plan to sell it on eBay every 6-12 months to upgrade. Nevertheless, I think resale value should be the least of your worries when buying a computer (although Macs do typically have higher resale value).
     
  18. yzedf macrumors 65816

    yzedf

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #18
    Mobile Pentium®4 Processor,1.8GHz-M 14.1 UXGA ATI 32MB Video

    source:
    http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?cs=19&kc=6V728&oc=41BUND&view=1

    UXGA is not a Windows term.

    Short for Ultra Extended Graphics Array, a display specification that is capable of displaying 1600 x 1200 resolution, or approximately 1.9 million pixels.

    source:
    http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/U/UXGA.html
     
  19. janey macrumors 603

    janey

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Location:
    sunny los angeles
    #19
    if you think comparing a 14" iBook to a Dell laptop is bad? Try comparing *ANY* PC laptop to the 17" Aluminum PowerBook! There is no way any PC laptop can weigh less than 7 pounds and be as thin as one inch, come with a BUILT IN DVD BURNER, FireWire 800, Bluetooth and 802.11g (not to mention the beautiful keyboard) and still be under $3500. And try finding a PC laptop with something bigger than a 16" screen!!!!! But hey like everyone already said don't get a mac for gaming.
     
  20. lmalave macrumors 68000

    lmalave

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2002
    Location:
    Chinatown NYC
    #20
    Re: Notebook value for switchers

    You don't have to live without the extra memory! Buy from any reseller and they'll throw in extra memory. Just as one example, MacConnection.com will give you a 14.1" iBook with 640MB RAM for $1499:

    http://www.macconnection.com/scripts/productdetail.asp?product_id=324396

    All the resellers have similar deals - this is just the first one I found.

    Throw in a $79 Airport card for a price of $1578.

    Also keep in mind sales tax. I'm in NY and when I bought my last laptop from Dell I was charged sales tax (I guess Dell has operations of some kind in NY). Buying my iBook from a California-based reseller, on the other hand, I was charged no sales tax. Don't know if Dell would charge you sales tax where you're from, but that could make a $100 difference.

    So yeah, the iBook would still cost a couple hundred more than the Dell. But I also have to put in a good word for the iBook 12.1". I went from a 14" Dell Inspiron to the 12.1" iBook and have no regrets. Keep in mind you don't lose any screen real estate if you're going to run the 14" at 1024x768 anyway. The iBook is very sharp at that resolution and even more legible than my old Dell.

    I see your point about most people wanting a 14" or larger, but hey, when you're a niche player like Apple you have to pick your battles. Look on the flip side: the small-notebook market IS a significant market, with major players like Dell, Fujitsu, and Sony selling quite a few units. And in this market, the 12.1" iBook is a clear winner, in my opinion.

    I'm a switcher BECAUSE Apple was catering to my needs exactly with the iBook. I was sick of my heavy, searingly hot, and poorly-constructed Dell. I mean, I know Dell has a reputation for quality but, man, they have REALLY slipped (and recent surveys and studies have shown as much). My Dell Inspiron was, bar none, the crappiest computer I have ever used (compared to the IBM Thinkpads and earlier-model Dell Latitude CPX's that I've used, to name just laptops). The case started developing cracks everywhere for no apparent reason, the display hinges started losing all tension, the battery was recalled, and finally the display died after 2 years. Compare that to my iBook with its 5lb weight, plexiglass-covered case, solid single hinge, and rubber-mounted hard drive, and you can see why I'm so happy with my iBook - it's everything my Dell wasn't.

    Go with the 12.1" iBook - you'll like it.
     
  21. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #21
    I don't want to pick but it seems nobody has used any laptop apart from a Dell or an Apple! :)

    Anyway, i have got an NEC and i must list its good points first. Wonderful screen no dead pixels (NEC make good screens anyway) and its got wonderful keyboard. Thats about it other than its solid build.

    But...it is heavy, its 3.4kg and noisy sometimes because it has a desktop processor and it only has a battery life of 45 minutes.

    I'm getting a 12" ibook now and i want it for its weight, battery life and small form factor and its lack of noise.

    Perfect nearly.
     
  22. jaguarx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2003
    Location:
    London
    #22
    pfffftHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    I've used Tibooks, they're fantastic.
     
  23. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #23
    Yeah its a bummer only having 45 minutes.

    Anyway i stopped using it other than to move the laptop around the house to plug it back in.

    I never took it to college and because of the batteries inactivity it now last about 12 minutes.
     
  24. arn macrumors god

    arn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2001
    #24
    Re: Notebook value for switchers

    someone might have mentioned it...

    but 3rd party ram and a 3rd party Wifi router will bring the price of the iBook down a little.

    The iBook/OS X likes the RAM so I wouldn't recommend skimping on it.

    Beyond that, there still may be a slight price increase on the iBook... but Apple's always had a slight premium... and the question is if it's worth it to you to use OS X and an Apple iBook.

    I personally didn't get the extended warentee....paying $250 on a $1400 laptop does not seem worth it to me. I've got a iBook 12" Combo myself.

    arn
     
  25. jaguarx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2003
    Location:
    London
    #25
    Applecare always seemed overpriced to me. I mean even AU$500 on an AU$7000 laptop (17") seemed excessive.
     

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