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iBento vs. the Dell

January 25th, 2005

Since the Mac Mini (which I like to compare to a bento box, complete with the Apple logo as umeboshi) was announced, just about every news item I have seen on the product announces without fail the fact that there are PCs out there even cheaper than the $499 Mac box. It’s relentless, almost as if it would be sacrilege to say that a Mac is just as good or just as cheap as PCs out there. But just like the media always pointed out higher hertz ratings for PCs while ignoring the fact that Apple’s processors are more efficient at lower hertz speeds, everyone is now comparing the discounted PCs with the Mac Mini based upon price alone–completely ignoring the fact that the PCs in question are stripped bare and have hidden costs to boot.

MinimacdellThis article in MacWorld does a good job of bursting that particular illusion. It would be hard for PC advocates to defend the favorable-to-PC comparisons based upon the idea that however stripped of features, they are still cheaper, because every article I have seen mentions, without fail, that the cheaper PCs come with a Monitor, mouse and keyboard, which the Mac Mini lacks. Well, if being stripped of features is OK on the PC, then why go out of your way to point out the features stripped from the Mac as a downside?

What is not mentioned in the articles you read is that the Mac comes with a dedicated graphics chip, a Combo optical drive, a firewire port, a one-year warranty (as opposed to a 90-day warranty), and a far superior software suite, nor do they usually point out that this machine is targeted at people who already own a monitor, keyboard and mouse, meaning that it will not be an added cost for most people. Nor do they mention that the Mac does not need antivirus software, though the PC does–tack on another $62 at least for that to the price of the Windows machine, almost the same cost as a monitor, keyboard and mouse for the Mac. Add the CD-R/RW and DVD optical drive and burning software to the PC and the price goes up about $100, bringing it right up to the price of the Mac Mini–and you’re still missing many features the Mac has built-in. And let’s not forget that the low PC prices are almost always arrived at through mail-in rebates, which require you to jump through hoops and cough up private information to advertisers in order to get the chance to wait months to get a rebate check in the mail.

And then there’s the small detail that the PC is a monster tower, and the Mac Mini is arguably the first truly portable desktop computer, and is a hell of a lot nicer-looking to boot. The PC is 14.5″ tall, 7.25″ wide, and 16.75″ deep; the Mac Mini is 2″ tall, and 6.5″ wide and deep. The Mac Mini weighs just 3 pounds; the Dell weighs 23 pounds. In addition to everything else, you get compactness and style. That may not sound like too much, but look at the illustration above right: that’s what the two computers look like, side by side. Tell me that you prefer the look of the computer on the left, or that it would sit better on your crowded desk.

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  1. LM
    January 25th, 2005 at 07:39 | #1

    I Googled about the “bento box” since you let me very curious… you’re right… it does look like one! :)

    Greetings from Portugal

  2. January 25th, 2005 at 08:52 | #2

    Hell yeah. Not to take anything away from the Mac Mini, but have you seen the size of the power supply? It’s like half the size of the computer. Nontheless up close it’s an amazing machine.

  3. January 26th, 2005 at 15:30 | #3

    Yeah, “how big is the power supply” was the first question I asked too. They try to hide it at the APPLE store so you think the unit is all there is. That’s the only thing that turns me off about it. Also, it looks like the whole top part would glow when turned on but it doesn’t, too bad, that’d be funky.

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