Apple Laptops: Good, Cheap, Fast -- pick three

When I wrote that the Mac Mini was an underpowered, expensive box at the beginning of 2005, I had no idea that Apple would do something wonderful to fix this: switch to Intel x86 CPUs.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Of course, you had to wait to post this until the day after I order an LG S1-P3B3A, which is roughly comparable to the entry-level MacBook Pro. Speccg the MBP up to the same level would have made it several AUS$100 more expensive, but very tempting nonetheless (fortunately my wife can’t see me typing that)

I rather like your choice, but it doesn’t appear to be available in the US at the moment:

It even supports up to 4gb of memory; the Apple models only support a maximum of 2gb.

Heh, Acers are probably the only brand that undercuts Apple prices. I know some people disparage them for slow support, but they provide top of the line equipment in slim light (and stylish, imho) shells for cutthroat prices, just like Apple finally started doing. (Guess that’s why they’re number 3.) Even if Apple is becoming “Microsoft with style”, I’ll take more competition over less any day.

Right now I probably wouldn’t pay over $1700 for 2.16/2G/120G, and that was a good price for my 1.66/2G/120G in february. (Damn cpu wars heating back up.) The listed prices seem exorborant, even for a month ago.

Personally, the lack of tap-click on the touchpad bothers me more than anything else about them. If that’s my only complaint I know I could live with macbooks. =D

Oh, the one you quote is from only a few days ago. Even more mysterious. (And sorry, meant 2.0 GHz, T2500.) Check froogle for “TM4674WLMi” if you want to see what I mean.

Merom era is going to be fun, no doubt. =D

I’m always surprised by PC users who get really worked up about OSX. Reminds me of the Mayor of Spokane. Extremely homophobic, passed anti gay ordenances etc… But as is often the case, he turned out to be gay himself, just had an excess degree of self loathing.

So virulent anti-Apple friends, come out of your OS closets.


I just noticed this is ultraportable category… which makes a lot of comparisons rather useless. Oh well. Sorry for spamming comments, I’d’ve edited if I could.

I wonder if Apple will put out a Turion X2 version one of thse days to keep Intel at bay.

Matt, I just went to and configured the basic dual core Latitude e1505 per your spec:

  • 2.0 ghz core duo
  • remote control
  • glossy screen
  • 2 gb
  • 80 gb 7200 rpm drive
  • 8x DVD burner
  • wireless and bluetooth upgrade
  • x1400 256mb video card

I ended up with a price of $1,910.

Heck, you could now compare this with the MacBook Pro at $1,999! Even better specs (x1600), but less memory. Add 2gb of memory from newegg, $120, after you factor in the $30-$40 eBay resale value of the existing 512mb SO-DIMM.

And of course that doesn’t factor in the value of the additional Apple laptop extras: camera, lighter and smaller, magsafe, OSX capability, non-crappy bundled software, better industrial design, etc.

Ya’ll complaining about clicking on the trackpad must remember that there are solutions for all of this. SideTrack Pro lets you do whatever you want with the trackpad. For me button==click, pad-tap=right click, slide finger==scroll. Or you can swap it around. This give you more flexability than I’ve seen on a PC trackpad.

What I find particularly amazing about Apple’s timing with the move to Intel is they seem to have set themselves up to be able to introduce yet another architectural shift: from 32-bit to 64-bit.


They already went through this once with the PowerPC range. Surely they’re going to have to do it with the x86 too, unless they intend on continuing to use the PowerPC for their 64-bit systems.

What’s amazing is that 64-bit PC laptops have been available for some time now, and Apple chose to jump right in there with the pre-doomed 32-bit version. It seems astonishingly short-sighted. Since they are already forcing vendors to rebuild all the apps to get the best from the new architecture, it seems insane not to make the jump to 64-bit at the same time.

Perhaps Apple enjoys putting this kind of grief in software vendors’ direction, and wanted to make sure they were going to be able to force it on them again in 3 or 4 years.

…aptops, such as proper right-click support, and standard keyboard mappings.

I am not a mac fanboy, well maybe I am, but the only mac product I own is an IPod shuffle. But I am not all that into Mac computers should behave just like a pc. I have yet to see a MP3 player that are just as clean and beautiful as the IPod’s. I often hear stuff like, “the mac s#xx because the mouse only has one button”. Often said in the same way as “You cant do CTRL+ALT+DEL in Mac osx, so it is a bad operating system.”, “Ohh Peter you suck, because you don’t sleep” or maybe “you stink because you dont breath the free air”. Because our ways with windows is “standard”, it does not mean it is the right and best way to do things.

Apple is famours for the design, and not many pc’s come even close when it comes to the look and feel. But if Apple starts to become for everybody and they will start to power Win instead of MacOSX, then I am affraid they will loose even more of their creativity. I love the minimalistic design and I hope Steve Jobs will continue to “Say No”.

…yet another architectural shift: from 32-bit to 64-bit.

Yeah I agree Ian, that is strange, but I am sure they already took that into consideration. Maybe it would have taken too long to go directly to 64bit, so they could not be in this good position they are in now? It maybe would have been too dangerous switching from chip vendor and from 32-bit to 64-bit at the same time?

Its a Mac, not an Apple.

Unless you just think a round white shell is ugly. It looks like a Prius to me, whereas Dells look like old Camrys, and I hate both. But fortunately there are other brands with some style (besides Sony), like Samsung. Check out their new ultra-thin cut-yourself-on-it portable. But even generic brands like HP have more style than Dell, so no more using them to wave the banner of PC style, please. Ugh.

The key is that there’s enough design out there that you can get close to what you want without paying ungodly amounts to customize it. (Painting, decaling, and etching aren’t nearly so expensive.)

Remember that the issue wasn’t “style” or how it looked. Jeff’s quote was all about price:

"But the current crop of x86 Apple laptops are cheaper than nearly every other x86 laptop of equivalent spec. That’s amazing. "

I’m simply pointing out that this isn’t the case. And saying that Apple is cheaper than the Dell XPS line is a complete joke. No one buys XPS computers. At the time I spent $1500 for my Core Duo E1505 the XPS line didn’t even offer dual core. And an XPS with similar specs and only single core was over $2500! So let’s be sure to do a real comparison before you say something like “Apple laptops are cheaper than nearly every other x86 laptop of equivalent spec.”. Unless of course, “equivalent spec” means “overpriced” hunk of plastic.

Jon Galloway:
"can’t even run WinMerge"
Surely thats the developers fault?
And Text Wrangler and FileMerge are very good alternatives.

So let’s be sure to do a real comparison before you say something like “Apple laptops are cheaper than nearly every other x86 laptop of equivalent spec.”

See here:

It’s true. Dell’s Inspiron e1405/e1505/e1705 series comes close to the MacBook, but it’s basically a wash, once you add in all the features the Apple laptops have. Try it with me now on the Dell website, OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH…

The closest model to the MacBook is the Inspiron e1405 with Core Duo. It’s a 14" screen vs. 13.3" screen. Of course screen size is also a tradeoff with portability, but this is as close as it gets for now.

The base model e1405 currently costs $799 (after $100 off “instantly”)

  • add 1.83ghz CPU +$100
  • add remote control +$29
  • add TrueLife glossy LCD coating +$50
  • add 60gb HDD +$40
  • add bluetooth +$49

Total is now $1,067.

MacBook price? $1,099. Now consider what else the MacBook has that you don’t get with the Dell:

  • ability to run OSX
  • non-crappy bundled software (iLife, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD iWeb, etc)
  • integrated iSight camera
  • magnetic power adapter
  • DVI connector output
  • far better industrial design

So there you have it, matt.

The reason the bottom MacBooks is so damn cheap is because schools are going to buy them by the truckload. Move up from the base model and they rapidly approach parity with other laptops.

“Is there any reason not to buy a MacBook if you want a highly portable 13#8221; notebook?” - Second trackpad button. PLEASE! :slight_smile:
(k know about that monkey combination af two touchs and click, but thats same as if apple ommited A from the keyboard saying that you can easily do fn+ctl+alt+s…)

64-bit is overrated anyways.

On the desktop, 64-bit is somewhat overrated. The main advantage is the ability to really USE lots of system memory, eg…

Many digital imaging applications, including The Panorama Factory, allocate a single, contiguous block of virtual memory to hold each uncompressed image during processing. As a consequence of running on a 32-bit architecture, the Windows operating system places a limit on the size of individual virtual memory allocations.

Under Windows NT4, 2000 and XP, the upper limit is slightly less than 1 gigabyte. In practice, as virtual memory becomes fragmented during the running of an application, the limit is often substantially lower than this, especially when two images must be held simultaneously in virtual memory.

It’s a different story on the server, however:

Re: “[The Macbook Pro] is actually $500 cheaper then 17#8243; Dell XPS1710 with similar configuration.”

Unfotunately Apple seem to have a different policy in the UK where the Mac costs 1900 and the Dell is 1740 … 160 cheaper. I know there isn’t a great deal in it but, given to the slight spec improvement of the Dell too, I know where I’d put my money.