I want to point out something wrong with this article. But first, let me point out that yes I am typing this on a UniBody MacBook running Leopard with iLife '09.
First, Windows "upgrades" do not cost nearly twice as much as OS X upgrades. A full version of Vista Home Premium 64-bit runs you $99.99 over at Newegg.com with free shipping.
This whole nonsense about total cost of ownership needs to finally be put to rest as well.
Apple's retail stores do not exist everywhere. I live in Southern California and the closest Apple store to me is a 75 mile round trip. So for most people in the world, the Genius bar (which has to send the machine out for repair anyway) is inaccessible. That means calling up support and having a box sent to you. The only problem is that Apple Care closes in the evening. So even if you paid $350 for that warranty for your MacBook Pro and it just happens to be passed a certain time at night, you have to wait until the next day to call in for that box to be sent out. The best part about Apple's support, however, is that if you don't have AppleCare and you're passed the 90 days, you have to pony up a credit card so they can authorize a charge of $60 just in case your problem is software and not hardware. So lets compare, shall we? With HP, Dell, etc, and the standard warranty, up to 1 year I can call in and have a box sent to me if I think something is wrong. With Apple, after 90 days on the standard warranty, I have to give up a credit card number with the possibility of being chard $60 to diagnose hardware issues. After its determined to be hardware, then they send you a box. If you live in the US and own a MacBook you better pray to whatever higher power you do or don't believe in, because its going to Flextronics for repair and I can tell you from experience that it will come back in worse shape than it went out in.
To make things even better, if you bought the extended warranty from Dell for your consumer machine, you get accidental damage coverage as well as on-site support. Someone will actually come to your house and fix your computer rather than you going to some "Genius Bar" who determines your hardware needs to be sent out for a week or more and be returned in worse condition it went out in.
Same goes for HP's business extended warranty. HP's consumer warranties offer accidental damage coverage as well as coverage for peripherals bought from the HP site.
Now lets look at other things. Let's say you're like most people and didn't buy an extended warranty. Oh, your optical drive died a year out of warranty. On most PC notebooks all you need to do is go to newegg.com, lay down $50 for a drive that will most likely be significantly upgraded from the one you had, get it, remove the battery and loosen one screw, pull the drive out, slide new one in, reverse process, done. On a MacBook? Well, if you have the non-UniBody systems, be prepared to perform full system surgery. UniBody systems are only half as difficult to work with. But thats after laying down anywhere between $150-$250 for a drive that is most likely used and not upgraded in any way.
Now lets look at cost of hardware. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16834220483
$1,299. Same as the UniBody MacBook but competes with the UniBody MacBook Pro at $2,499. What advantages does it have over the computer costing $1200 more? Full size ExpressCard 54, a faster GPU, a higher resolution screen, a 7200RPM HDD, 4 USB ports, 1 eSATA, HDMI, a memory card reader, a 30 day bad pixel warranty, a 2 year standard warranty on top of a 1 year accidental damage warranty.http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16834152099
Now what does this have compared to the $2,499 MacBook Pro? Well, it does have the same processor as the $1,999 MBP, so that is a downside. But it has a 7200RPM HDD, a 1680x1050 screen, a blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo drive, full size ExpressCard, a carrying case, a faster GPU with a full 1GB of video memory, HDMI, eSATA, memory card reader, etc.
Now lets look at software. Anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, basically any types of "Security" software that you only need if you're not too bright are all free. AVG, AdAware, Comodo, etc. IT's all free for personal use. But you don't need it as long as you have a bit of common sense.
Let's look at the bundled software. iLife. Okay, let's look at iPhoto. iPhoto does have neat features that do or don't work depending on who you talk to, like Faces. But for old fashioned organizing and printing, Picassa, Windows Live Photo Gallery, HP Photosmart Express, and countless others all do an equally as good job. In fact, HP's software (free to everyone) let's you make and do all of the same neat photo book stuff as iPhoto. But you know what makes it better? You can print it on your own paper and equipment. You can literally make a book for less than half of what Apple charges, plus you can put more in it and control every aspect of the design instead of choosing Apple's pre-made pages. The best part is that none of that software costs a penny, and if they don't yet have a feature that iPhoto does, they will get it and it won't cost you $80. Not to mention the fact that none of that software is as snail slow as iPhoto. I know people that have been Mac users their entire lives that avoid iPhoto like a plague because it is so slow to import. And I agree. On my Mac it takes forever to import pictures. On my PC? I pop the memory card into the reader and the entire card is read and copied in the just a couple seconds more than it takes for iPhoto just to open and recognize the camera.
Next up is Garageband. Garageband is nothing special. When you consider the fact that you save anywhere between $500-$1200 or more by going with a PC over a Mac, you can get something like this: http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...tTrackUSB.html
better software than Garageband and a significantly better audio interface than what is included on any PC or Mac.
iMovie and iDVD are irrelevant. Why? Because digital video cameras come with their own video editing software. And not just cheap run of the mill junk either. I remember years ago I bought a $50 TV tuner that came with full version of their http://www.ulead.com/runme.htm
software. Not crippled trialware or a then previous version. But the full working and then current version of their video editor, DVD creator, and other video related software. So it makes absolutely no sense for the average person to downgrade to iMovie and iDVD when their digital video camera most likely comes with far more powerful and equally as easy to use software.
Now let's talk about longevity. Some people say Macs last longer than PCs. How is that even remotely true? A MacBook with a Core Duo 2GHz and 2GB of RAM and Intel GMA 950 from 3 years ago is no different than a PC with the same specs from that time. How is that MacBook going to last longer? Especially when you consider the fact that the plastic MacBooks were some of the most poorly built computers ever. I know this from experience. In the year and a half from my original purchase, I went through two with a total of being out for repair for a combined total of 2 months thanks to cracking plastics. Which is funny because after the first system was replaced after several botched repairs, I barely used the second system and it still managed to get major cracking in various areas of the case.
So how does the total cost of ownership come in to play again? PCs cost less, have free equivalent software or, in the case you have to buy it, you still come out several hundred or even a thousand dollars less than a Mac that isn't even hardware equivalent. Extended warranties offer more coverage and support and, in some cases, a person is sent to YOU not the computer sent away. So, how are Macs a better value? I own a Mac. It's my third one thanks to botched repairs that were a result of poor build quality. I truly wish I could have just gotten my money back. I would have sold the UniBody MacBook I eventually ended up with if the economy hadn't tanked and nobody wanted to buy it for less than half of what it was worth.
I also want to add another thing. Upgradability. Let's say that, when USB 3.0 comes out, I want to add it to my computer. Thankfully my PC has a full size ExpressCard slot. A small card later and I have more Firewire, eSATA, and USB 3.0. Want USB 3.0 or eSATA on a Mac? Well, better hope Apple supports it first! And if they do, toss out your current system and buy a new one. Add that to your total cost of ownership. And what about the dongles? If I want to connect my MacBook to an external display I need any one of a number of dongles. If I want to connect it to my HDTV I need either a mini-DisplayPort to DVI connector with DVI to HDMI adapter or a mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter made by a 3rd party, as well as a mini-TOSLink to TOSLink adapter and an optical cable to get audio. That also means I don't get any of the current high end "high definition" audio formats available on blu-ray. With my notebook PC I have HDMI, its all done on one cable with support for 8 channel linear PCM over the same cable or passing the Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master HD signal to my receiver. Add that to the total cost of ownership as well.