Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Are Apple laptops a good deal?

I have always considered myself to be an Apple fan (I wrote the little chess program that they gave away with the early Apple IIs, and I made real money writing a commercial app for the Macintosh when they were first released) but I question if their laptops make sense financially.

I bought an Averatec Windows laptop last April for $800 (with rebates) that was faster with a 64 bit AMD processor than a similarly featured iBook for $1300. I spend most of my time programming in Java and Ruby, with a lot of writing also (e.g., I am working right now on a Ruby book for Manning). For me, a dual boot Linux/Windows XP laptop has about the same productivity value as a OS X laptop - your mileage may vary.

I was playing last week with a new Averatec model ($1100) that was very small, thin, and light, yet had a wide screen display and a usable keyboard - it compares feature wise with the new Apple MacBook announced today for a starting price of $2000.

If Apple releases an Intel iBook that I can easily configure to also boot Linux and Windows then they will probably get my money - if the price is right and they stop purposefully disabling dual desktop support when using an external monitor (*).

(*) I did apply the free patch by a German programmer to my ancient G3 iBook so I get dual desktop support, but why should I have to do that? Why not just let non-PowerBook customers also get dual desktops when it does not cost Apple anything more? I think that eventually Apple will get burned because everything they do is proprietary. Again for me, they are competing with the flexibility and productivity of booting Linux to work and booting Windows when I want to try out Windows only software, run DRMed movies, etc.

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