Dan Frakes of Macworld has taken me to task for comparing a Dell Core Duo to the new Apple Mac Core Duo. Frakes two biggest issues with my comparison is that I used coupons and he feels that the Dell I configured is inferior to the MacBook Pro.
On the issue of coupons, Frakes might have a point that not everyone knows about the generous coupons used to slash the Dell notebook $650. The problem for Frakes is that everyone that reads his article or my blog will know that the coupons exist, and I defy anyone to find a person who would knowingly skip the coupon option when they know it pops up from time to time every couple of weeks. Arguing against the use of coupons is simply self defeating since the act of talking about it makes serious Dell shoppers want to look for it.
Frakes then takes issue with my hardware selection and then proceeds to pick his own Dell options without the coupon. After reviewing his selections, I'll make the following adjustments.
- The Dell didn't have a video camera for video conferencing. Ok, I concede this point and I should have factored that in. Since the camera on the MacBook Pro is a nice one, I will give it a value of $100 that the Dell didn't have.
- The Mac didn't have a modem whereas the Dell did, so I'll credit the Dell with a $30 feature missing from the Mac.
- The Dell didn't have a Mic built in whereas the Mac did, so I'll credit the Mac with a $10 feature missing from the Dell.
- The Dell doesn't have Optical in and out for audio whereas the Mac did, so I'll credit the Mac with a $60 high-end sound card feature.
- The Dell has 4 more USB 2.0 ports, so I'll credit the Dell with a $20 feature that the Mac doesn't have.
- The Mac has illuminated keyboards and MagSafe power adapter. I'm not sure what value to place on this since everyone has their own priorities. But let's call it a $50 advantage to the Mac.
- The Dell is 2.4 lbs heavier, but it has a 1.6" larger screen, larger batteries, 4 extra USB ports, and media card reader. I would say the size was justified, although I would have tried to find a PC with closer attributes to the MacBook Pro if there was such a product which probably won't arrive for another few months.
- The Dell has an 8x DVD burner compared to the Mac's 4x DVD burner. I would say that has to be worth $90.
- The MacBook has a 1400x900 pixel screen 15.4" screen compared to Dell's 1280x768 17" screen. Since each has a larger attribute, I would have to say it's a wash. Frakes somehow felt it would be justified to force the Dell to go with a 1680x1050 UltraSharp 17" screen which is obviously ridiculous. I call it a wash here.
- The Mac has a dual-link DVI port on its Radeon x1600 video adapter and the Dell has a GeForce Go 7800 with VGA and SVideo out. I would say it's a wash here, but it would depend on the user's preference in video cards.
- And lastly, we have the software issue. Frakes listed a list of software bundled with the Mac but left out a bunch of things like Microsoft Works for the Dell. The software issue is tricky since it entirely depends on the user preferences. I'll leave this up to the reader to assign their own value to this comparison.
After adding up the price differences, I ended up adjusting the Dell a net $80 higher. If you include the coupon, and anyone reading this who seriously wants a PC would look for the coupon, there would still more than an $800 price difference favoring the Dell notebook.
For some people, they may absolutely require Windows while others will absolutely want to use Apple's software. I can't make that decision for anyone else and all I'm doing is laying out the price of the two systems. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions.