The Apple Luxury Tax

The holidays mean retail therapy. You were ignoring this fact until Thanksgiving, but now you’re beginning to sweat it. What does Aunt Claire want? How about the Wife? If you’re list hasn’t formally written down, it’s, at least, sitting in some form inside your head.

I’ve been planning on spreading the love Apple-style this year. Frequent readers will know that I recently (and painlessly, I might add) made the transition to OS X at work and other than a pretty shaky networking architecture, it’s slick.

Really, the only piece of Apple hardware that falls inside my current price range for family and close friends is the iPod and even that is a stretch with current iPods running from $299 to $499. As I was losing sleep over my Christmas list, I realized, “Hey, there are probably a lot of other MP3 players that aren’t going to fleece me for three bills.”

If you ask someone why they haven’t bought a Mac, they’re going to give you one of two standard answers. Answer #1: It doesn’t run software application X (where X is usually equal to some type of video game) – this topic is probably worthy of another column, but for now, let’s talk about Answer #2: Macs are too expensive.

This answer bugs me because my instinct tells me that it’s true, but I actually haven’t done the math which is why we’re here. We’re going to figure out how much more Mac hardware is relative to comparable PCs in four categories: Tower, desktops, notebooks, and, for kicks, iPods.

A NOTE ON THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: This is an experiment fraught with assumptions. If, while reading this, you discover a particularly heinous assumption, I will listen to your argument and probably ignore you. Go for it. In particular, if you’re a hardware geek who knows every damned chip on a motherboard, I’d love to hear from you.

ANOTHER NOTE: In this column, I’ll be referring to the Apple Luxury Tax. This is a “for fun” statistic which is computed by first selecting a piece of Apple hardware and then finding a comparable piece of PC hardware. Using the lower price (usually the non-Apple piece of hardware… go figure) as a baseline, the price differential between the two is computed as a percentage and this is the Apple Luxury Tax. What I think this number represents is what you, the consumer, are being taxed for “Thinking Different”.

iPods

Let’s start with something simple and without a lot of options. I picked the top of the line 10GB iPod. A cursory scan of the web, revealed the most comparable player to be the Creative Nomad Jukebox.

Here’s the breakdown:

  iPod Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen
Storage 20GB 20GB
Weight 7.2 ounces 9.5 ounces
Size 1.8 inch drive 2.5 inch drive
Ports Firewire Firewire + USB
Cost $499.00 $349.00
  Apple Luxury Tax 42%

For pretty much the same piece of hardware, you are paying roughly $150 extras dollars. This is an Apple Luxury Tax of roughly 42%. Youch.

Showing off my painful Apple bias would be unwise this early in the column, but for your Apple zealots, you can SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM if you want to read why I believe iPods (and Mac hardware in generally) are much better.

Portables

Comparing actual computers starts to get hairy mostly because of the advanced voodoo surrounding processors. There is a wealth of information on the web stating that PowerPCs outperform faster Pentium chips running certain programs and tasks. Unfortunately, all this processor hoo-hah is about year old and most people have shut up since Intel broke the 3Ghz mark and PowerPC continues to hover around 1Ghz. Apple has attempt to make up this growing distance by offer dual processor machines, but it is a myth that twice the processors gives you twice the speed, I’d peg it at a 50% increase per processor although I’m sure people would like to yell at me about this.

For this comparison, I chose the iBook and then built a Dell Inspiron with the components that mostly closely resembled the iBook. Here we go…

  iBook Dell Inspiron
Processor 800Mhz 1.5Ghz
System Bus 100Mhz 66Mhz
L2 Cache 512k 128k
Screen 14.1″ 14.1″
Memory 256MB SDRAM 256MB DDR SDRAM
Storage 300GB Ultra ATA 300GB Ulra ATA
Video ATI Radeon 7500 (32MB) NVidia GForce2 (32MB)
Optical CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive (24x) CD-RW/DVD Combo drive (24x)
Cost $1599.00 $1306.00
  Apple Luxury Tax 22%

Some notes worth noting:

1) The Dell includes the WordPerfect Productivity Pack w/ Quicken New User Edition. Adding Microsoft Office to this machine would add $130 to cost of the Dell and $199 for the Apple.

2) FOR ALL of these comparisons, I just have no idea how to compare video cards. In general, I attempted to match memory size and type, but as every fan of Quake knows, it’s the graphic processor chip which really helps you cut the mustard. Again, if someone would like to weigh in on this subject, go for it.

Desktops

This is where the head scratching really began. I started by comparing the Power Mac with the Dell Dimension and the higher end Dell Optiplex and there simply was no comparison ($3299.00 for the Mac versus $1744 for a comparable equipped Dell Optiplex). After watching an hour or two of Sunday afternoon football, it dawned on me. The Apple desktop to compare was, duh, the iMac.

Take a look…

  Apple iMac Dell Dimension
Processor 800Mhz 2.66Ghz
System Bus 100Mhz 533Mhz
L2 Cache 256k 512k
Memory 256MB SDRAM 512MB DDR SDRAM
Storage 60GB Ultra ATA 120GB Ultra ATA
Video NVidia GeForce2 MX (32MB VRAM) NVidia GeForce4 MX (64MB DDR)
Optical Apple Superdrive (24x) CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive (32x)
MS Office Not include Included
Cost $1699.00 $1167
  Apple Luxury Tax 5% (~19% w/ Office for Mac)

Notable notes:

1) Processor on the Dell just wails, I don’t care what the Velocity Engine on the Mac is doing for you.

2) Microsoft Office. If you use the Inspiron’s Microsoft Office cost, this means there is an additional $130 against the Mac which would bring the Apple Luxury Tax to 19%.

Workstations

  PowerMac G4 Dell Workstation
Processor Dual 1.25Ghz 2.6Ghz
System Bus 167Mhz 533Mhz
L2 Cache 256k @ 1.25Ghz 512k @ 2.66Ghz
L3 Cahce 2MB @ 50Mhz None
Memory 512MB DDR SDRAM 512MB ECC RDRAM
Storage 120GB Ultra ATA 120GB Ultra ATA
Video ATI Radeon 9000 Pro (64MB DDR) ATI Fire GL (64MB DDR)
Optical Apple Superdrive (24x) CD-RW/DVD Combo (32x)
MS Office Included Not Included
Cost $3299.00 $2142.00
  Apple Luxury Tax 54% (~60% w/ Office on Mac)

54% No wonder Dell and Gateway drool over Apple’s fat profit margins. Apple isn’t even close on the workstation hardware. Dang.

What you just learned

HOLY GOD RANDS MACS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE – HERE’S AN AWARD.

Overall Cost: If we average the four Luxury taxes above, you get a rough tax of 30%. If you wanted to use this number in every day conversation you would say, “I heard that if you want to buy Apple hardware, you’re paying 30% extra for the honor. (Rands said so)”

Competition: Really the only place where Apple can actually go toe-to-toe with Apple is on the iMac and that is with HALF the processor the comparably equipped Dell Dimension. My guess is this is Apple’s most popular (ie: affordable) model and; therefore, they can make it up in volume.

Processors: As every Apple rumor site is fond of pointing out (daily), what is up with Apple’s processor strategy? This is the festering sore on some otherwise very appealing hardware.

Why Apple?

Who, in their right mind, would buy slower hardware at a 30% premium? Well, lots of people. Myself included. The biggest reason is simply because Apple owns both sides of the problem: the hardware and the software. Nothing frames OS X like the lines of the iMac or the Cinema Screen HD and when it comes to balancing ease of use with performance, Apple software consistently delivers.

I’m of the opinion that Apple’s success is primarily based on their ability to evoke an emotional reaction with their products. Their goal is to have you walk in a room, see their product on the table, and say, “Holy shit, what is that?”

59 Responses

  1. yojauta 14 years ago

    “The biggest reason is simply because Apple owns both sides of the problem: the hardware and the software. Nothing frames OS X like the lines of the iMac or the Cinema Screen HD and when it comes to balancing ease of use with performance, Apple software consistently delivers.”

    So, you like iMacs/Cinema Screen because their casing goes well with the skinning of OS X? And as far as the “ease of use” thing goes, PCs are just as easy to use blah blah blah blah OH GOD YOU’RE REALLY JAMMING THAT MAG-LITE IN MY EYESOCKET

    Anyway, blind (pardon the pun) Mac/PC evangelism aside, computers are different things to different people. If someone wants to go out and pay an extra 30% for that “ease of use” so they don’t have to read fifty pages of manuals just to be able to format their Christmas wish list, let them. It seems to me, however, that nowadays the stigma attached to the PC is from the memory of the past when one _did_ need to call a techsupport moron^Wstaffer and roll their twelve-sided die to discover how to set margins in Wordperfect. Today, the Office Assistant (holy god) is there just waiting for your blank stares and ready to suggest that you click here and here and there to get that font extra large and red and flashing.

  2. Harry 14 years ago

    If Apple didn’t have the exterior looks and the rabid fanbase, they’d have truly shut down a few years ago.

    They are attracting newer customers these days, thanks to some more mainstream marketing and design of products.

    True, the prices can be exorbitant, but the value must also be put into consideration. I may be biased, but I find I would rather spend money on a new Mac than a PC.

    The whole software debate is indeed a valid reasoning for not going Mac, especially when one depends on certain applications. But a lot of the time it’s a bunch of kids bashing Macs because they don’t play all these games coming out every month.

    True, Apple’s behind on processor speeds, but at least they can provide hardware that works well.

  3. Harry 14 years ago

    By the way, are any other of the fellow Jerksters Mac users? The sprinklings of Mac-related terminology in past strips sometimes suggested it.

    MACSBUG

  4. Stonewall Jackson 14 years ago

    You forgot cost of ownership, reliability, etc. I’m using NT2000, having been forced to. It’s a hackneyed piece of garbage. So is XP. The interface is a poor immitation of the real thing. The whole directory organization is just too computer friendly not user friendly enough. And I get the impression that you really oughtn’t fuck with the way it does things.

    I used to have a white imac. Never broke. Everything always worked perfectly. Oh, and iTunes – the one thing that *really* pisses me off about this platform is that you can’t get anything like iTunes. Not even if you pay, to the best of my knowledge. Winamp just…winamp sucks shit. I spent 3 days finding a skin that worked decently.

    But when I’m working in CAD or PS it doesn’t matter which platform. Depends on the software. For getting work done, both platforms are really equal – for the majority of applications the speed is so far in excess of what you need (although it is *really* nice not having to wait 2 minutes for stuff to render/rasterize/redraw like you did back in the day).

    The worst thing about the mac though isn’t the price, it’s the single mouse button. It annoys me now, although I seem to remember getting by really well without it. Could the GUI have been *that good*?? I didn’t even control-click stuff. One button.

  5. I like my iMac just fine, and I like it for the same reason a lot of Mac owners like the platform: it just works. When people say things like ‘eew you got a Mac? I thought you were a computer person’ I remind them that I am a UNIX person first and a computer person second. I think OS X is a better OS PERIOD than Windows, and that is because it is a True UNIX(tm). I don’t care what people say about Macs (I HEAR YOU TURN INTO A FAGGOT IF YOU USE THEM) because I’m now one of the rabid minority. ..And I’ve only owned my mac for about 10 months. Scary.

  6. Stonewall Jackson 14 years ago

    PC users are just poor. And the poor are simply stupid and unmotivated. They don’t take risks. They’re just jealous.

  7. yojauta 14 years ago

    Skins??? SKINS??? Who gives a flying fuck about skins? What’s wrong with Winamp’s default? Seriously, if you’re that into how things look, perhaps you should get a job as an interior decorator. (This is not to say that Winamp can’t be made beautiful, and also that it is not the only alternative — see Sonique, which had beautiful free-form skins before Winamp, which didn’t introduce them until version 3.)

    What bothers me about the Mac is its closedness. I’m not talking about the software side (which was greatly ameliorated with the coming of OS X YAY OPEN SORES), but the hardware side. Sure you can slap a NVidia or what-have-you board in your G4 tower, but as rands pointed out, Apple has both ends covered. There are no “OEM”/clone hardware solutions for a Mac as there are for the PC. If you want to upgrade to a motherboard that supports new technologies, but don’t want to buy an entirely new computer, you’re up a shit creek with your Cinema Display for a paddle. It’s these incremental, inexpensive upgrades that make the “PC” more worthwhile in my opinion. I guess for those who don’t care to stay with the latest tech, or those who do but can afford to blow $2000 every six months, Macs are fine.

    On another matter, there’s really little separation nowadays between a Mac and a “PC”. Macs are “personal computers” as well, and support most of the same technology and can interchange devices just as well, using the same PCI bus, IDE/SCSI, USB/Firewire … the list goes on. What most people seem to focus on is the OS, which does not an entire architecture make. Sure most “PCs” come with Windows (XP currently), and Macs with OS X, but one can be made accessible in the same ways as the other.

    Before this turns into an essay, I’ll cut it off with one thing: I’LL “SWITCH” TO MAC IF ITUNES HAS A AVRIL LAVIGNE SKIN (SANS MAKEUP) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. yojauta 14 years ago

    Stonewall:

    “The whole directory organization is just too computer friendly not user friendly enough. And I get the impression that you really oughtn’t fuck with the way it does things.”

    What exactly do you want to be able to do? On comparing the filesystems of Windows/MacOS (pre X), one finds little difference in flexibility except for the lovely resource fork (BOY IT’S A GOOD THING WE STORE WHAT OPENS A FILE IN A SEPARATE RECORD FOR EACH OR WE MIGHT HAVE TO HAVE A ***DATABASE***). Of course, OS X has the nice directory structure of other Unices. One thing I am jealous of (and would like to see in NTFS) is the ability to make symbolic links (it’s there, or beginning to be).

  9. You’re 100% right about the kid angle there, Harry. Most (and I stress ‘most’ here) anti-Mac sentiment I’ve seen has been so ignorant that it could only flow from the mouths of teenagers. Kids too young to have ever seen a Commordore 64 in the flesh. They need Ego-affirmation by negation, or some psychobabble like that. So they knock Macs and Mac users. These are the people who will grow up to buy Pentiums over Athlons simply because they have a faster clockspeed. (Notwithstanding that the P4 FSB is undoubtedly “The Shit” at the moment.)

  10. Forgive me if this is half-assed. I was writing this at 3 o’clock in the morning.

    “….Apple owns both sides of the problem: the hardware and the software….”

    Absolutely. And in my opinion, when it comes to “total package integration”, this is what gives Macs a better fit & finish than all but the most expensive desktop PCs. Not to be Feng Shui, but there’s a certain quality to Macs that is FELT more than anything else.

    “….the stigma attached to the PC is from the memory of the past….”

    Unfortunately, tech support horrors are as prevalent as ever. It has gotten to the point (and Rand please correct me if I am off-base here) that companies are hiring their own IT individuals to handle in-house tech support problems, rather than deal with some fool 3000 miles away.

    “The whole software debate is indeed a valid reasoning for not going Mac, especially when one depends on certain applications….”

    Well, yes and no.

    Okay, this is completely my opinion, and you are free to disagree with me, but I am sorry – you want to play games? Buy a friggin game console. As far as what I call “home-user” apps are concerned, Macs offer equal and/or superior programs. The problem arises when you are dealing with proprietary programs – programs hand-tailored for companies. But that isn’t a PC/Mac issue so much as it is a “forever stuck using Windows 98 and NT because my company doesn’t want to pay a programmer to make the shit work on newer platforms.”

    My Mac has NEVER given me problems. I have reinstalled the OS once – and that was only to customize the installation to my own needs. I have never had a single hardware issue. With the release of Jaguar, I was able to implement a true peer-to-peer network with my 3 PCs. Oh, did I forget to mention I still use my PC? Take a look: http://home.earthlink.net/~lmcanterojr/layout.gif I use both Macs and PCs because I more productive with both of them than just one. I could function just fine which either one only. But we live in a PC world, and currently PCs work best when dealing with other PCs, IMHO. On the other hand, it is great working with a machine (Mac) made by a company that has consistently set the standard when it comes to new technology. (It still kills some companies to call IEEE 1394 “Firewire”. Oh, and who was the first to make USB, Firewire, & Zip drives standard equipment? If PCs are so great, why are companies like Dell and Gateway working so hard to show the world how their computers are better than Macs? Oh, and Jaguar supports 3-button mice. my Logitech works just fine.)

    Yes, my Mac has limited upgradeability. You know what? It doesn’t need it. Now, my Mac is a Classic iMac G3 500mhz processor, and not the fastest thing in the world. But I will put it up against any 1 Ghz processor-equipped PC made. Ease of function, comprehensive tools, and a simplified GUI make it a dream to operate.

  11. yojauta 14 years ago

    “Yes, my Mac has limited upgradeability. You know what? It doesn’t need it.”

    _It_ doesn’t need it, or you don’t need it?

  12. Yes, *it* doesn’t need it.

    Now, let’s break this down and pick a task to do. I want to burn some MP3s into an Audio CD. I have my Classic iMac (G3 500Mhz) and my Compaq (P3 650Mhz). They were both obtained within 3 months of each other, and have their STOCK equipment. (OH, one more thing – there was no Apple Luxury Tax involved here – the PC cost more than the Mac.)

    First the Mac:

  13. yojauta 14 years ago

    Perhaps the problem here is that PC/Mac “power” users (meaning those that know how to use every last bit) approach the issue from different angles. One of your problems is that on the PC there is no integrated program for burning CDs and managing MP3s (Windows Media Player does do this, not to say that I use it). I *like* having separate programs for different tasks. I don’t want to have a program running all the time that is capable of doing fifty different things, bringing that bloat along with it (this is the main reason I despise skinning — with skinning support apps are typically exploded with bloat). Now, maybe if each of the fifty included things were used as frequently as music playing constantly, perhaps I would appreciate them being integrated (CD burner/etc) in an app such as Winamp.

    Also, there seems to be an attitude of elitism prevalent in each of these pro-Mac posts: “you fools”, “kids too young”, etc. Is this any better than those who blindly support the PC with their Mac-bashing? In my posts, I believe (or I hope) I’ve stayed away from blind evangelism for the PC. Both Macs and PCs have their place in the world: the pros and cons of each merely need be weighed from each person’s point of view in deciding which platform suits them best. I believe this was rands’s point in the first place — that some people are willing to pay that “luxury tax”, and some aren’t, based on what fits their needs.

  14. WINAMP RAWKS

  15. Just to clarify – I don’t think it was implied that iTunes needed to do “50 different things” on a single application. Two or three RELATED tasks will do just fine. You may want to check with other Mac users in this discussion, and see if they consider iTunes “bloatware” – I sure as hell don’t. (And yes, Media Player can perform many of the same tasks as iTunes, but it does it poorly – and only after Microsoft saw the writing on the wall and got their friggin’ act together, IMO. iTunes 3 or Media Player 7? I’ll take the former.)

    iTunes is just one example of why Macs do a lot of things better. A lot of thought goes into Apple designs, *before* they are ever released. It’s the difference between being proactive and reactive. It is not enough (to them) to meet the standard – they want to set it.

    On a side note, I don’t know a single Mac user who has taken their Apple purchase lightly. A lot of consideration goes into that purchase. If you go by the spec list, Apples appear to be technologically inferior to PCs. A visit to your loacal Apple Store is not likely to give you any more comfort. Apple realized this, and that is why Apple started the “Switching to Mac” campaign. The fact is, the true worth of a Mac cannot be appreciated from their website, or even a 30 minute visit at one of their stores. To know a Mac, you have to USE a Mac.

    As for the elitism issue, I am pretty sure this picture (http://home.earthlink.net/~lmcanterojr/layout.gif ) demonstrates that both my PC and my Mac hold equal importance on my desk – and that is not going to change for some time. I am sure that the majority of Mac users who visit RinR were/are longtime PC users, and have put in a significant amount of time on both platforms, before coming to their own conclusions. Personally, I find myself turning more and more towards the Mac for everyday tasks. Why? “It just works.”

  16. huaghl 14 years ago

    The annoying thing about the Mac has been that you just *can’t* grab a Radeon|GeForce|whatever off the shelf and slap it in. You need the SPECIAL MAGIC OVERPRICED MAC VERSION THAT NOBODY SELLS with the appropriate OpenFirmware-happy ROMs. Someone whip out the LART if I’m wrong here; I gather a few cards (USB controllers?) can be slipped under the radar.

    I suppose there’s little incentive for anyone to make the Mac code available for download/flashing… or if it’s doable, nobody documents it.

    In any case, “all the other” PPC machines (basically the two Amiga reincarnations, and now Terrasoft’s Linux-only take) coming out now go through the trouble of including x86 emulation in their boot ROMs to allow basic initialization of textmode/VESA graphics, ‘BIOS’ setup of SCSI cards, etc. Which is overkill, but I’m sure it’ll be damn convenient.

    …meanwhile, though, people actually do slam Voodoo3s and such into the old Amiga hardware, with PCI busboard hacks and the like- and those systems simply enable the add-on hardware after boot time. You might have to live ‘flying blind’ at boot if you don’t have an oldschool monitor hooked up to the oldschool video connection, but at least you have a *hope* of using the hardware. I don’t get why Apple doesn’t even hold out that hope- more pressure to buy shiny new shit in two years, I guess.

  17. Kipland Philip Kinkel 14 years ago

    hurf

  18. HAS ANYBODY NOTICED THAT YOU AN GET AN IPOD ENGRAVED WITH MADONNA’S SIGNATURE FOR AN EXTRA 49 DOLLARS? HURF DUH WAY GAY

  19. For those of you who are interested, you may want to visit http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com and check out their 04 December 2002 press release.

    As for me, I am not going to get sucked into this particular quagmire, less I get caught up in a (cough cough) friendly discussion similar to this this: http://slashdot.org/articles/99/08/24/1922212.shtml

    HUAGALUGAHULAGALUHA

  20. WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS A STUPID ANNOYING NITPICK AND SHOULD PROBABLY BE IGNORED.

    This computer has an ATi Radeon 7500 (as mentioned in the laptop comparison), so I asked Device Manager what it thought of this “32MB” business. It swears up and down that the Radeon 7500 has 64 megs of VRAM, not 32.

    ARE YOU CALLING WINDOWS DEVICE MANAGER A LIAR?????????????????

  21. AmishDoom 14 years ago

    I’ve never owned a Mac, but I’d like to. The problem is, I’m a huge fucking nerd and am uncomfortable with not being able to build my machine.

    I also wish more poor people would get Macs so I never get a PC on my bench from some douche who bought it out of the Bargain Counter section of the paper and OH NO WHY CAN’T I CONNECT TO THE AOL WTF I GOT THIS FREE CD AND IT SAID I HAD INSTANT ACCESS MODEM IS THAT LIKE THE CLICKY THING DUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRR I HAVE WINDOWS 92 I THINK.

  22. I am looking forward to the day that I plunk down $2k for a sweet mac laptop. I’m an open source/unix devotee. I want a unix laptop in which everything just works.

    Yes, I know I could get a pc laptop. I’ve had a pc laptop on loan that I blew away and installed linux on. After enough fiddling, it works great; and frankly, I enjoy tweaking and customizing the OS. (In all likelihood, I will install linux and a bsd on the mac laptop just to play around.)

    I’m tired dealing with X and it’s horrible slowness. I want working video that I don’t have to know the ins and outs of the internals of just to find the right tool to play them. I want watch DVDs without knowing that I am technically breaking the law (however stupid the law.) Sometimes, I just don’t want deal with all that crap.

    OSX is pretty, and when I want functionality I’ll just drop into a Terminal. It’s unix inside, and that’s all I really want. Hey, maybe I’ll hate OSX when I actually have to use it 24/7. I’ll fall back to what I already know: linux and openbsd. I still get sweet, thin, light hardware.

  23. “You want to play games? Buy a friggin game console.”

    Sorry, but, uh, this is complete horseshit.

    My last computer was a PC I built myself and my current computer is a SHINY NEW apple titanium powerbook, and by god, I miss my PC games. Consoles have their ‘complete lack of mouse and keyboard, no fine graphic detail, ass networking capability’ problems, and I hate to admit it, but my powerbook cannot play medal of honor (which is slightly behind the curve) for shit.

    For shit. The game was basically unplayable in terms of framerates (typically between 12 and 4fps) Yes, apples are a shit gaming platform. Consoles are (for the type of game I like to play, namely, online first-person shooters a la battlefield 1942), a shit gaming platform. And as a college student with no job, it’s easier to say “Hey rich parents, buy me this computer” than “Hey rich parents, buy me a PS2.”

    So the titanium powerbook sucks shit for games, and it has a single-button built-in trackpad.

    Collary: These are its only two flaws. Everything else about the titanium powerbooks is awesome. For one, they don’t crash. Ever. Sometimes applications (microsoft internet explorer and microsoft word most often, but they’re heavily used) shit a brick, but the system itself does not fucking die.

    Maybe unix users are more used to NOT BEING ABLE TO REMEMBER WHEN THEY LAST RESTARTED THEIR COMPUTER, HOLY SHIT WHY DOESN’T IT DIE, but this is pretty stunning for me.

    Yes, it’s a closed hardware environment. No, you can’t have the most cutting-edge hardware. But no longer will you live in fear of two pieces of machinery designed too far away from one another deciding they don’t like each other too much and killing ALL YOUR PRECIOUS WORK.

    With the powerbook G4, this is the first time I feel like I’m buying a COMPUTER, not a collection of the cheapest possible OEM parts that Dell decided to stick me with. It’s shiny, there’s a lively community of users (most notably right now the people who are cracking the firmware on the macintosh DVD players to be forever region-free), and the components don’t fight each other. I like, even if I have to go across the hall to play Battlefield 1942. And it even fits in my backpack!

  24. KIP WHERE IS TENSTICKS

    OMFG 7 YEARS AGO!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Is this the latest powerbook G4 we’re talking about, the one with the Radeon 9000 in it? If that has trouble running MOHAA, then Apple really needs to look at the drivers it is using.

    And you’re 100% right about consoles not being a staight-up alternative to Windows gaming boxes. Show me a control method that allows me to play an FPS on a console with as much accuracy as the mouse-keyboard combo, and I will show you a console with a mouse and a keyboard.

  26. Apple’s “ease of use” is a myth carried over from the late seventies and early eighties where IBM machines were considered menacing to an average user. There’s nothing out there in the PC world which is not easy to use. Windows is idiot-proof, some distributions of teh lunix are also idiot-proof although the desktop environments are still pretty bad.

    I don’t know a single Mac user who has taken their Apple purchase lightly

    I certainly wouldn’t take it lightly if I dropped sixty grand on an automobile. Every Saturday I’d go out and wipe it down with a diaper before sealing it in a mylar bag with acid free backing.

    Computers are just tools. I don’t see carpenters ragging on each other that “CRAFTSMAN SUX0RZ!!! BLACK N DECKER 4 EVA!!!”

    Plus I highly suggest you check out my LAN which has an iMac running Jaguar running happily alongside my Win2K machine using a Mandrake box as a hub and firewall!

  27. yojauta 14 years ago

    T P000 ALWAYS THE VOICE OF REASON

  28. Spacelegoman 14 years ago

    Medal of Honor Allied Assault plays great on my G4 Titanium. The framerates are fast enough that I can go online and easily snipe the fuck out of whatever idiot “clans” I happen across.

    Warcraft 3, the other game I play, works excellently as well. The only problem is that since I can’t re-assign keys in WC3, I can’t use the 3D pan/zoom buttons with my laptop keyboard. Crushing sadness ensues.

  29. “Computers are just tools. I don’t see carpenters ragging on each other that ‘CRAFTSMAN SUX0RZ!!! BLACK N DECKER 4 EVA!!!'”

    I think the Black N Decker fans would be that defensive IF BND innovated and Craftsman stole. But I don’t think that is the case.

    On a somewhat related note, I hate when people say computers are just tools. I want to marry a Mac someday because I admire the attention to detail inherent in their design (inside+out). Is it wrong to want to marry a machine? I think it is sexy.

    I do think OS X needs a little work, though.

  30. It takes a thief to know a thief. Xerox wasn’t interested in the GUI and mouse. Xerox were the innovators, Gates and Jobs were the thieves. Jobs is just a sore loser.

  31. huaghlagain 14 years ago

    Erm. Computers *are* just tools, albeit expensive, sometimes custom-built ones… and carpenters do occasionally get snippy about such crap- even artists argue over brands of pencil.

    I don’t see “attention to detail” when I look at a Mac; I see something put together by a marketing team (PRETTY CASE) that was then kicked over to engineering (BOARD THAT FITS INSIDE PRETTY CASE). As much as PowerPC does kick ass, you need to read about some of Apple’s failures- for instance, the once top-line Beige G3’s mainboard was supposed to be the low-end version, until it turned out their high-end server board had performance issues that made it suck worse.

    The guys at Apple and the guys at EPoX or any other good shop are doing the same level of engineering, albeit with different components, and different specs handed to them. What comes out is different only in that the corporate hive-minds driving them are different.

    Even some of the classics of computing were driven by the same motives. You could probably argue that VLSI (remember when that was a buzzword) has driven any *hope* of elegance/attention-to-minute-blah-blah detail out of the equation… or at least, pushed it back on the chip designers, who occasionally come out with a big win or neat hack of their own. (Kyro, Transmeta, Banias, Nx586->AMD’s current lineup… there’s still the occasional Cool Trick to be found.)

    In the end, these are all pretty much megacorporations putting out crap designed to twig your emotions one way or another.

    The funny thing about Commodore was always that their corporate side was braindead- leaving engineering to fend for itself in many ways, and leading to products with unusual character. Apple had similar periods in its history as well.. but now that it’s a healthy company, it seems there’s no room in the product matrix for anything… “that might confuse the folks in Iowa,” I guess.

    Of course, they do get some props for developing Firewire.

  32. Whenever I’m forced to use Windows, I’m always astonished at how ugly the interface is. Jaggy fonts, awful colors, wasted space … Hardware aside, if I’m going to be looking at a GUI for ten hours a day, can’t it at least be one that doesn’t look like something out of Harvard Graphics?

  33. Wrigley Field 14 years ago

    The moral of this story is simple:

    If you want to game, either buy and custom build an AMD-based box OR like yourself on fire buddhist-style on the steps of the capitol rotunda after screaming “GAME COMPANIES, PRODUCE FOR THE MAC OR I WON’T BE THE LAST!”

    If you’re troubleshooting an office chock full of Win 2K, Win XP, and even some old Win 95 boxes, you might want to consider a Pentium box.

    If you’re a webserver, you should either get a Unix or Linux-based box OR try OSX server on for size- I’m no guru, but I hear vast amounts of praise for Xserve from the pro sector, except for the non-redundant fans and power supplies.

    If you’re a writer, like me, buy a mac with Office, Word, or even Appleworks or fucking Textedit, the freeware app- the damn thing does everything you need a word processor to do, including spellchecking.

    If you need something to listen to music on (IE- piss the RIAA off), watch (or even pirate) DVDs, download movies from the net (the DIVX codec I found that comes with a verifier does pretty well in converting .avis to a readable mode), use your digital camera, seek MP3s (Limewire is an excellent Gnutella clone, and there are shadow clients for kazaa), and generally do any other day-to-day ho-hum standard vanilla productivity work, you’ll want OSX and a shiny new mac. (it’s shiny!)

    Of course, certain hackers may be attracted to the fact that with connectix’s Virtual PC suites, you can run practically every modern civilian operating system known to man AT THE SAME TIME, from OS/2 to WinNT to Linux. From what I hear, you can do anything you can on all the other machines just as well, except using extremely hardware-intensive apps (IE- games and theoretical software).

    I’m just waiting for the day that the DirectX API ports become total and complete, which brings me to my second idea, one concerning game platforms:

    In ten years, one of three things will be seen:

    1. total platform integration resulting in a single computer and operating system, about the size of a baseball, completely unupgradable but as fast as humanly possible- it can’t be upgraded because the only bottlenecks in terms of speed were the massive gaps and twists in the circuitry, which were all eliminated. The only bottleneck now is the harddrive seek time, which is remedied by a massive ram disc as a preemptive buffer.

    2. all games become hybred, or are released at the same time.

    3. nuclear winter sets in, and even blizzard can’t force itself to make another crappy clickfest or stupid RTS with RD.

    So, in effect, the time will come, one way or the other, where your platform no longer matters. For me, this is fine because I have infinite patience. For the rest of you, stop playing games of entertainment and start spending your goddamned parent’s money in Las Vegas or Atlantic City or fucking Wall Street. Make a profit, start a business, whatever- just don’t make another crappy Quake IIIA DM map!

  34. Returning to the “computer are just tools” argument, I don’t think anyone can really doubt the truth of this statement. Computers are nothing more or less than tools.

    Yet then again, so are cars.

    A Honda will get you from point A to point B just as well a Bugatti. As a transportation tool, pretty much any car is as good as any other. But that’s hardly the point, is it? Cars hit all sorts of emotional switches in people, most particularly car enthusiasts. Same with computers. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who get’s a little cloudy-eyed at the mention of the Commodore 64.

  35. artists do not argue over brands of pencil

    a computer does not drive around thus being visible it sits on or under a desk.

    hope this helps!!!!!!!!!!

  36. LIAR!!! KOH-I-NOOR R0X0RZ!!! U FOLX WHO UZE SANFORD DR00L!!! QUICK LET’S START WARS OVER INKING CARTOONS WITH NIB PENS, BRUSHES OR ***MARKERS***

    WHAT???

    JERKCITY DOESN’T USE THIS??? IMPROCEIVABLE!!! WAHT IZ DER INTARWEB???

    Great, you’re a bunch of dopes who want a limited library of software which only runs well on your proprietary hardware for a niche profession simply because SOMETHING LOOKS PRETTY. Dang, I’m gonna paint faggy flowers all over my garage now so I can tune my engine in a pleasant environment.

  37. mmm, cruisy

  38. Rands? You there?

    You must be loving this. Very unlive you to let 40 posts go without so much as a peep….

  39. Rands? You there?

    You must be loving this. Very unlike you to let 40 posts go without so much as a peep….

  40. “a computer does not drive around thus being visible it sits on or under a desk.”

    That depends on whether you haul it to LAN parties and such. And whether it is visible or not isn’t the point. The fact is that for pretty much anything other than racing, my 1986 Nissan minivan is a fuckload more useful than a Porsche Boxter, and probably gets better fuel economy too. (Actually not sure about that. Anyone?)

    Likewise my rag-tag, butt-ugly Windows box is pretty much as good at doing anything I want to do as a Mac. But Mac’s twig emotional response, whereas the Windows box is just a simple tool.

  41. “is this the latest powerbook g4, the one with the radeon 9000 in it?”

    !nay. This is a 667mhz G4 with some kind of ATI Rage dealy inside of it (M7 says system profiler.. right, whatever). Which gets me to a beef I have with laptops in general, which is the COMPLETE LACK OF ANY ATTEMPT AT STANDARD (AND THUS UPGRADEABLE) GRAPHICS CARDS. In any case, I never bothered to try network play with my copy of MOH, but the performance in general was definitely sub-par. The framerate usually hovered around 12, jumping up to 15 in certain situations (inside the nazi bunker at normandy, enclosed spaces, fewer polys, etc), but plummeting to 2-4fps in the tank level.

    Warcraft 3 multiplayer performance was acceptable, but there was some slowdown when fucktons of units were fighting. I believe I turned graphics settings down to their lowest levels in both games.

    In any case, this gets back to an old debate: Is your computer there to let you type into something, or to make you feel like some kind of tiny impotent pseudo-badass?

    Artsy people: “SHINY. My applications oh so rarely crash.”

    Tool people: “I have more software than you could ever dream of using. And you like pretty things. You are fag.”

    Of course, most people are in between these positions. My Titanium powerbook remains shiny champion of the portable DVD, and the backlight shines through the translucent apple logo on the back of the display, but I harbor NO ILLUSIONS WHATSOEVER that it has the vagina magnet powers of a nice car. Everything is a balance, see?

  42. Here’s the rub:

    The sort of vagina that is attracted to a car, is vagina I don’t want.

    Although the sort of vagina that is attracted to a Mac… hmmm…

  43. huaghlagainagain 14 years ago

    Re: COMPLETE LACK OF ANY ATTEMPT- there’ve actually been a number of attempts- some laptops actually used CompactPCI video, and you could get PCMCIA MPEG accellerators back in the day, etc.

    Problem is: 1. who the hell actually makes CompactPCI video? 2. who the hell actually makes CompactPCI (or mythical CompactAGP) video that can actually talk to the particular circuitry of your particular model’s LCD panel? 3. Trying to route all those signals to a connector uses up precious precious board space, making your laptop even fatter and uglier than everyone else’s.

    We’re moving closer and closer to NForce-style solutions, there, in the name of power savings… (Do they have an NForce mobile yet?)

    I’M A DUMB BASTARD NOTE:

    If anyone wants to mention the way to correct a mis-set filetype association in OS8.1, feel free.

  44. Seriously, can we get crackin’ on some fucking T-shirts? Whose DONG do I have to BHGLHBLHGLHBLGLHB

    to get some service around here?

  45. T POOO CARPENTERS DONT TALK ABOUT CRAFTSMAN/B&D B/C THEY BOTH SUCK we use *industrial* tools — Powermatic 66 vs Delta Unisaw, P-C vs Hitachi routers, Milwaukee vs Makita drills, Paslode vs Senco nailers. It can go on for days. Black and Decker is for faggots. Craftsman is for your dad.

  46. SIR YOU ARE CLEARLY BLOWING MY PARADIGM BY TURNING MY ANALOGY ON ITS EAR BY INTRODUCING THE “SUN MICROSYSTEMS” OF HOUSE BUILDING HARDWARE.

    Please Rands, your response regarding your ego ru^H^H^H^H^H^H blog responses!

  47. Actually I find this whole argument really funny, considering I just bought a PowerBook G3 Pismo second hand for a hefty discount. I get all the benefits of Mac OS X, I upgraded the machine to 512MB using COTS PC components. I also have a Vaio on loan from work, and a number of my own PCs in various states of undress.

    I haven’t ‘switched’ to Apple so much as incorporated it into my computing diet. Right now most of my needs are met well by FreeBSD on the Vaio, but there are some niches that the Mac occupies which no other OS can quite fill.

    Using the Pismo is a dream. OS X is to media as a fish is to water – the DVD player and iTunes alone have made it worth my while acquiring and upgrading this machine.

    The expense of Apple can be spared if you go second hand, and know your hardware well. I found that most of the skills I’d developed working with PC hardware (I have 6 rather thick books on PC systems architecture on my bookshelf) are easily portable to Macs, now that both Macs and Suns have taken the same commodity components as PCs for many years.

    And by the way, I wrote a nifty little tool for DOS which lets me install any Macintosh PCI card and pull the OpenFirmware ROM images off it for my own consumption. And I have compiled my own small collection of ROM images which can be flashed to the equivalent PC devices.

    You can find this tool here: http://www.incunabulum.com/code/projects/pci/

    Which was my other reason for investing in a Macintosh. They have proper firmware. The PC needs to get Open Firmware in order to get rid of a whole bunch of snake oil merchants selling ‘systems management solutions’ and ‘remote access devices’ which there is just no market for in the Sun and Apple worlds — when I was building my first custom 1U Intel based server, I had a dodgy DIMM, and I didn’t find out about it til I plugged in a monitor and keyboard. That’s just not acceptable.

    Anyway, I agree with most of the arguments citing design superiority of Apple product. Having worked with both over the past 13 years. But the PC is still able to swamp the market.

    Ah well, some people like to swig cheap Chardonnay – I’d rather pay a little extra for tawny port. (But if you shop around…)

  48. AND IT’S PRETTY DON’T FORGET IT’S PRETTY AND STEVE JOBS AND CLARUS AND AND AND OS ECKS AND STEVE JOBS AND DID I MENTION THE PRETTY CASES TOO HEY THIS IS QUALITY SHIT TOO BAD I CAN’T DO BETTER BY INVOLVING MYSELF IN A FREE, OPEN MARKET OH WELL BETTER HANG OUT ON SOURCEFORGE AT THE CRUISY BULLETIN BOARDS

  49. Maybe upgradable laptops are just not meant to be. Alas.

    re: mis-set file associations. Try fucking around with ResEdit? I’m fairly sure you can change the file creator and file type tags with that. Looking at a file of the type you’re trying to change your fucked file into for clues should help. your mileage may snack on hobo dong. (whatever the fuck that means!)

  50. OSX IS THE OPERATING SYSTEM OF CHOICE FOR USELESS PEOPLE EVERYWHERE

    FOLKS THAT ACTUALLY HAVE BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO OR WORK TO ACCOMPLISH ARE STUCK USING CRUMMY OLD PC’S!!!! ALAS

  51. Un petit probleme de compatibiliter, cellas doit

  52. FACTORY RECORDS 14 years ago

    INCA MAKES GOOD TABLESAWS. FENCES ACCURATE TO 1/32 OF AN INCH!!!!!! BANDSAWS TOO. JONTERS, PLANERS.

    KOH-I-NOOR SUCKS SHIT

    I MADE MY OWN JERKCITY SHIRT. I ACTUALLY MADE TWO AND SOLD ONE.

  53. Kharos 14 years ago

    Oh a Mac Vs. PC Thread, now theres a novalty…

    Has it sunk into insidusus insults yet ?? Ahh no, well it doesns’t seem to have gotten personal anyway 😀

    Me=average net wander

    I’m a Pc chappie and heres why, because I like building them up for differant jobs.

    My games machine, well it has to have windows, tis an Athalon 1800, 1gb ram, 180GB HD nVidia geoforce TI4200, 433 fsb ( hmm sounds close anyway ;p)

    Communications security machine thats a PII 640mb, 40gb HD running Free BSD, does my gateway, Firewall, FTP and IRC mainly as well a few other bit s 🙂

    Of the 2 machines the PII is left on… last reboot about 2.5 months ago, the 1800.. switch off every night :p

    Point is, be it MAC, pc with windows, FBSD, or whatever… Hmm what do YOU want the machine for ? Does it matter if it’s branded or not, propritry or not ? Do you need to be able to convert your files to an office XP format, is the machine to be left switch on etc etc etc

    Depends whats important to you, customer service, will it crash more (net statistically ofc ;p)does it have less overheads than windoze…

    Personally I’m cheap and I likes to build my own, the obvious market then for me is the cheaper pc market.

    If your preferance is a very reliable machine thas got a good warrenty and you never have to go into the machine… you may want to go for Sun ;p

    But to the analogies of cars and fine wines..

    Like I said me’s cheap, the soles of my shoe’s are worn out and my eyes are fadeing from all that Meths :p

    siggy ;p

    Frizbitarianism, The believe that when we die we will float upto the roof and get stuck :/

    Plato: If you get a straight answer out of Socrates let me know

  54. Kharos 14 years ago

    RE: seek MP3s (Limewire is an excellent Gnutella clone, and there are shadow clients for kazaa)

    Hmm These days I’ve gone back to IRC for most things I need, dl times maybe not quiet as good but that depends who ya connects to just like lime etc..

    Big differance for me is I don’t have to run adware as often or investigate crap as much on the FW ;p

    Oh and No ones pointed out Teh PC is getting prettier !

    http://www.europc.co.uk/cgi-bin/web.filereader?3e07399e08103654273fd43a3b3f05cb+EN/products/50499

    Not that it looks like a G$ or anything ;p

    siggy ;p

    Frizbitarianism, The believe that when we die we will float upto the roof and get stuck :/

    Plato: If you get a straight answer out of Socrates let me know

  55. HUAGHLUAGHLUAGHL 14 years ago

    The POWER OF UNIX:

    Fantasy- Everything works.

    Realistic Fantasy- Your cousin brings home his snow iBook G3/DVD. Somehow it shat itself when he put it into sleep mode, and now every boot brings it only to the point of loading the menubar applets (volume, etc)- Finder and the Dock are fucked. However, with THE POWER OF UNIX at hand, you simply boot to a single-user shell, mount the X install CD, do a quick Google for the appropriate fix, and you’re back in business.

    Reality- The iBook’s hosed. You drop to a shell, and spend three hours trying to figure out why there’s no entry for the optical drive in /dev. You crawl OpenProjects.net for anyone with half a clue about Darwin, and get laughed at for working from the command line. Users call you a reactionary, even after you explain that THE FUCKING FINDER WON’T LOAD THERE IS NO GUI. The only fixes you find are on Geocities pages and Apple’s knowledgebase, and neither work. You wind up reinstalling both 9 and X (nondestructively), and the problem remains. The one Darwin guru you do find suggests attaching the $500 Firewire drive you don’t have, performing a backup, and doing a full reformat. Nobody has any goddamn clue why you don’t get a disk1 entry in /dev, and assume you’re a moron who can’t ls.

    Jesus Christ. Computers suck.

  56. dhalgren 14 years ago

    FWIW, about 7 days ago I laid down $374 plus tax, free shipping, for a 20G iPod direct from apple. Came to $402 with NY sales tax, I believe.

    You have to know someone who can get you an employee discount, but how hard can that be?

  57. skank 11 years ago

    Windows is shite … you cant do a thing without it crashing or something having to close… on the other hand macs are a smooth running dream machine (a 1960’s classic shelby you like car)