MacBook Pro versus Non-Mac Laptop

I am speculating about my next laptop purchase, and as always, I like to think of alternatives to my current environment (which is an Inspiron 9400, 2.0 GHz core Duo, 2 gb of RAM, running Vista). I do not own a desktop machine, and really do not see myself going that route, unless I were to get a new iMac purely as a luxury.

I am thinking of the following options:

  1. An Apple MacBook Pro (17″, 2.4 GHz, 2 gb of RAM, High resolution display, everything else pretty much standard)
  2. Dell Inspiron 1720, configured pretty much the same as the MacBook (except with only a 2.2 GHz processor) with Windows Vista or XP
  3. The same Dell, but loaded with some flavour of Linux.

(note that whatever choice I make, I would still have to run Vista and/or XP somewhere on the machine in order to co-exist with the real world)

These options appear very similar to me. I even configured the Dell with stuff I might not care about (like a built-in webcam), in order to make the comparison “fair”.

The main difference I see is the price. I can get the Dell for about $1800 (Canadian), whereas the MacBook Pro comes in at over $3200. Is there anything about the Apple which justifies this price, beyond being “cool”? Is the price of the Mac OS really $1400? Or is there something else intangible here?

As much as I might like the MacBook alternative, I cannot really see justifying the cost.

Can anyone tell me why I (or they) would let Apple overcharge them like this?


I have been working in the world of technology for 25-odd years. I am an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on software solutions, social networking, and innovation processes. Currently, I am a Principal Consultant with T4G Limited, specializing in Portal Technologies (including SharePoint), software/systems development, service oriented architectures, and many other things which I will probably not remember until I need to use them. Prior to that, I was VP of Technology at Whitehill Technologies, Inc., where I spent almost 9 years helping to grow the company from a start-up to one of the most successful private software companies in Canada. Prior to that I worked on internet conferencing using early VoIP, and on large military communications projects. Before even that, I worked in satellite control, and remote sensing. Going way back to university, my focus was on theoretical physics and astrophysics. Currently my interests revolve around most aspects of software development, from technologies to management, and in the area of defining sustainable, repeatable processes for innovation within technology organizations. I also have a particular interest in Tablet PC technologies – I have been using one for several years, and I love it. On the personal side, I still have a strong interest in all aspects of science, especially physical sciences, as well as philosophy and comparative religion. In addition, I am into music, playing guitar (badly, I am sorry to say), and reading almost anything I can lay my hands on. I am also a member of the IEEE/IEEE Computer Society, and of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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4 comments on “MacBook Pro versus Non-Mac Laptop
  1. […] laptop & Another try at Ubuntu Well, as I dicussed in a previous post, I have been in the market for a new laptop. I have finally bought one. I decided to go for a Dell […]

  2. Michael says:

    I have just checked out the price of the Dell from the Dell website. I decked it out pretty much the same as the MBP and it came to about $2300 US. Still much more expensive than the MAC. The questions you need to ask is what do you need it for and do you really need Windows. I don’t use it, in fact I have no Microsoft products on my MBP, primarily because of cost. I use iWork and iLife products and find them powerful enough in a teaching situation. If you are in a heavy business use situation or work with windows specific programs you may need to go with Windows and MS office (Remember there are many free alternatives to Microsoft office that run on MAC, like Open and Neo Office). If you are into education, video, publishing, photography or graphics or small business in general, OSX will serve you brilliantly.

    The main difference I see in the machines is that the MBP is smaller, lighter and a lot less chunky. Also I noted the Dell did not come with gigabyte Ethernet and its wireless card did not stack up to Airport Extreme. The MAC doesn’t have a card reader (an annoying omission by Apple) . The Dell though comes in many colours.

    MAC’s are very good machines with very well integrated software, but in some cases can be more expensive. Apple seems to choose good hardware and doesn’t aim at the budget market. I believe with a MAC you get what you pay for. I have only spent an extra $80 US (iWork) since I purchased my machine.

    A good thing to remember is that at the moment there are no known viruses attacking OSX. This may change in the future.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Fred says:

    I agree – the OS does not “cost” $1400. But if that is the only effective difference between the Dell and the MacBook Pro, then that is the effective cost to me of having the priviledge to run OSX.

  4. neufelni says:

    I just recently had to buy a laptop for college and I chose to buy a MacBook Pro. It has not yet shipped, so I can’t tell you much about it yet. I only paid just over $2000 for mine, which was the 15″ with a 2.2GHz processor, with an upgrade to 160 GB hard drive. I’m not sure why they are so much more expensive, but it’s not the OS, since you can get the latest version of Mac OS X for just $129 I believe.

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