The Apple Mac Cost Misconception

Integrated Utilities, and Built-in Options

The *nix Underpinnings

Despite popular belief from uninitiated and inexperienced users who have never actually sat down with Mac OS X to examine the operating system, Mac OS X is one powerful *nix system. Take for example, the core structure of OS X. Those who have experience with Linux or FreeBSD will feel right at home with the OS X terminal or console. System maintenance and customization can actually be performed right from the shell. Got a bash script you’d like to run? OS X can handle that.

The venerable X Window System is fully supported in Mac OS X by X11 (xterm).

Users can download, extract, compile and run their X Window applications right inside OS X. The cool thing of it is? You can tunnel X applications through a SSH connection with OS X’s built in X support. In the screenshot, I have a Firefox browser opened on my Ubuntu machine, tunneled through a SSH connection and displayed and skinned on my Mac. Obviously you can do this with Windows as well with available X server utilities.

Some comments claimed in the last article that Macs are for "people who don’t know how to use computers" — sorry. Completely untrue and biased. Apple wouldn’t include some of the tools it does if that were the case. Some claims are based entirely on the total lack of experience with OS X and so baseless that it’s appalling.

Other Built-in Utilities

Other powerful utilities that come with OS X are the Network Utility tool, RAID utility, Keychain Access, ColorSync Utility, Grab, ODBC Administrator, and Front Row.

Inside Network Utility, you have tools such as a port scanner, finger, whois, traceroute, lookup and netstat to help troubleshoot network issues. One of the other critical utilities is the Keychain Access tool, which helps store frequently used logins and passwords to a keychain, which can be edited. For example, logins to frequently used network shares can be stored, as well as websites and other places.

Front Row is much like a media center interface, giving a very simplistic and clean view of a user’s media. From movies to photos, users can hook up their Mac to a large screen display and easily navigate through their library.

Obviously we can do this with other free software even on a Linux or Windows system. Clearly some people will argue that they could do this home business on a much cheaper machine, costing say $500. But you wouldn’t get a Mac just to do this, that wouldn’t be a smart buying decision. You would either build your own, or get something like an Apple TV or a cheap Windows Media Center unit. I myself threw together a cheap PC, costing less than $400 as my HTPC. You buy or build what you can, for the right reasons.

  • The OS is proprietary since the EULA states you cannot use it on non-Apple hardware. Not because it doesn't have market share. Because it does.

    My gripe with apple's pricing is that there are no real budget oriented options. The cheapest macbook is 1000$+. The cheapest laptop I can find with Vista is 600 or less at Costco/Sams Club.

    Everyone says that OS X is faster and yada yada yada. I know people are going to shoot me for this, but I find all of the fancy desktop effects to be VERY laggy except on laptops with a dedicated video card. The Laptops especially slow to a crawl unless they have >2gb of ram. Like Vista. I work on these every day and if I ever bought one, it'd be for the looks- the OS is nothing special IMO. I'd install Vista on it.
  • rodney_ws
    Cherry picking over-priced PCs does little to prove your point. I realize that when you're going the Apple route you don't have many options, but those of us on the PC side have TONS of options... and even the most basic among us would be able to purchase higher performing, lower cost PCs than the ones you selected to go up against the Apples.

    For $1549 I purchase an HP laptop w/ 4 GB of RAM, 20.1 inch screen, Blu-Ray, 5 speakers, and an Nvidia 8800 GTS. My system absolutely crushes that $2000 MacBook Pro in every category... and still cost $450 less.

    Don't get me wrong... I "get" Apple. They look awesome, are well built, have an awesome retail presence, and they are right for some people... just not for me.
  • compy386
    If you're stupid enough to pay retail for a Dell, then Apple just might be the computer for you.
  • ouch1
    Funny how you are comparing base model MAC's to bleeding edge PC's. That my dear journalist is not comparing apples to apples. It is comparing apples to apple pie. Big difference. That just goes to prove for that same cost as a very high end PC you can get a base model MAC with a very proprietary OS (i.e. can't install it on anything but a mac with invoking the Jobs cops, check the EULA). Please if you make the mistake of buy an Airbook have fun changing the battery (you can't) or watching a DVD while on the road (again you can't no built in DVD drive).
  • hixbot
    Wow, you took a PC desktop with identical hardware and proved that it would cost the same as the baseline Mac Pro.
    What's the point? You can build a PC with hardware that isn't identical but PERFORMS better for CHEAPER. Picking the same overpriced PC components doesnt prove anything.
  • customisbetter
    i read the first page and stopped. Apples are designed to look good and be reliable. I get that and many other people do as well. They really aren't designed to be performers for cheap. The PC will ALWAYS win in the price category (and usually performance as well) because you pay for the reliability and style of Apple. Please stop comparing the two.
    Just to humour you though. The ENVY has a Carbon Fiber Chassis. BAM! There's 300 right there.
    BTW i am both a PC and Mac Owner.
  • angry_ducky
    I don't think that comparing the MacBook Pro and the XPS M1730 is a good comparison; the XPS is a desktop-replacement gaming machine, and is therefore bigger and heavier than the Mac. Also, the 8700M GT will outperform the 8600GT, and I am unable to find where it specifies that the 8700 has shared graphics memory.

    Dell sells the XPS M1530 which is a 15.4 inch laptop designed more for multimedia than for gaming (similar to the Mac). The M1530 starts at $1000, and with identical specs to the MacBook Pro (and Vista Ultimate), the price is $1650.
  • jwl3
    The main point is that with PC's you have hundreds of different vendors I can buy a computer from. Due to competition the price is always lower. The author is being disingenuous by picking for comparison laptops at non-discounted prices. Dell ALWAYS has deals with $400-$500 off. Apple NEVER discounts their products.

    I bought an Acer laptop from 2 weeks ago for $399. It came with a Dual core pentium, 120GB HD, and 1GB ram. What can you get for $399 at the Apple store - a tricked out ipod?

    Oh and another thing - if you play games at all, you can forget the Apple. Games just aren't made for it and the ones that are come out 1 year after the PC release.
  • jwl3
    Additional thought:

    The author's main point is that Macs are similarly priced to PC's. Then halfway through the article, he states that MAC prices are at a premium because it's from a top-shelf manufacturer and it is sold to cater to a "lifestyle. "

    Which one is it you duplicitous fool? Are you actually acknowledging that Macs are severely overpriced vs. PC's?
  • wow they messed up big time with this article. comparing thickness and weight of a 17" laptop vs a 15" macbook pro. sounds fair to me. also lets go ahead and say that the 8600m GT is faster than the 8700m GT. who wrote this, honestly? anyone who knows even a small amount about graphics cards should know that an 8700m GT does not use shared graphics memory. The 200GB drive in the dell is also most likely a 7200rpm vs the 5400rpm in the macbook pro. 802.11n wifi is a $20 upgrade on the dell, had to not include that to make the mac look better. Also that dell is designed for SLI graphics cards upto two 8800m GTX with 1GB of memory, lets see the 6lb macbook pro do that. Different machines designed for different purposes. Pick a better comparison tom, seriously!