Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Apple again delivering value for the dollar

Last January Apple's value proposition was out of whack -- with the sole exception of their almost invisible plastic MacBook ...

Gordon's Notes: iMacs are expensive

We'd like to reorg our home office. That means I need at least the same computing capability in half the space.

The best way to do that is to ditch my 5 yo big-old XP box and monitor, and replace it with a 24" iMac that will run Fusion/XP and OS X, using the monitor as a 2nd display...

Problem is, that will cost me about $2,400 with appropriate RAM.

Or I could get a Mac Mini and forgo the 2nd display. There the price is quite good, but the memory capacity and processor speed are currently on the low side -- and rumor is that the next generation will sacrifice CPU to make the Mini smaller and cooler. Of course Apple will also drop the firewire connection, so performance will take another big hit.

I'd buy a more powerful Mac Mini that would sell for, say $800 base and $1000 or so with 4GB. I'd attach an external firewire hard drive and/or a NAS....

So how's the Mac Mini look today?

If I use Apple's memory (historically costly, now reasonable) I can get

  • 4 GB RAM
  • Firewire 800*
  • 2 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • iLife '09

for $750 (list, direct from Apple Store).

Well, I'm impressed. That's $250 less than what I thought would be good value in January.

And an iMac with 4GB and 24" display? At $1,500 my desired machine is $900 less than it was two months ago.

That's aggressive pricing for my "market of one".

* So is Apple admitting they made a mistake dropping Firewire from the MacBooks without at least offering USB 3?

Update 3/3/09: The bargain iMac doesn't have a dedicated GPU; in that regard it's a step back from the the $2,400 Jan price. So it's not really a $900 savings for the same machine; maybe it's a $700 saving. Still, pretty darned good. I'm curious as to whether Snow Leopard will be able to make use of the GPU computing engine on the $1,500 iMac.

Update 5/3/09: It's not clear how well Aperture runs on the lower tier iMacs. The more I look at them the less impressive they seem. Apple fooled me on this one.

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