Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Technical break-down

I have always been a Windows OS person. I grew up with both a Mac and a PC (stupid that that's the alternate term, since it just means "personal computer"), a Mac was actually my first computer that I used with any regularity (going online, playing puzzle games, checking out the TY website), but Windows has always been preferable for me.

My mom wants a Macbook Air. Many parts of me are greatly opposed to this, primarily the anti-Mac one. It's not that Macs are terrible computers, in fact, they are generally considered to be pretty reliable (though I've seen my fair share of hardware failures on them, as much as PCs). They tend to have fewer software issues as there are less Mac-compatibile softwares available, and it really comes down to statistics: less people use Macs. Why? It's less easy to futz with them, if you're mechanically inclined (I use that term in the sense of mechanics being customizable interface & general hackery and software changes, not physical mechanisms), and they are more expensive than any of your average PCs.

Let's compare. First some terms:
-SSD = Solid State Drive, a newer type of Hard Drive that is faster and has no movin parts, thus less prone to failure as the usual spinning hard drives are. Still a fairly new technology, but very popular, but sadly expensive.
-ODD = Optical disc drive (aka what you put your CDs/DVDs in)
-DDR3 = The newest type of memory (DDR2 being the last one). Fast and awesome, basically.

Macbook Air - $999
-Screen size: 11"
-Processor: 1.4 GHz Intel Core2 Duo
-Memory: 2gb DDR3
-Hard Drive: 64gb SSD
-ODD: none
Summary: Small, lightweight, probably good battery life, but the processor is old/not impressive/could be slow, that's not a whole lot of memory, and that's very little space. This is probably just meant to be used to be portable for meetings and travelling, but that's a lot to pay.

What can we compare it to when it comes to Sony?

Sony VAIO X-series - $1099.99
-Screen size: 11"
-Processor: 2.0GHz Intel Atom
-Memory: 2gb DDR2
-Hard Drive: 64gb SSD
-ODD: none
Summary: Small, lightweight, excellent battery life (8+hrs), but the processor is definitely not going to be fast, the memory is still not much and it's the older type. Aside from the processor and memory type, this is fairly comparable to the Air.

What about Dell & HP?

Dell Inspiron M101z - $429.99
-Screen s ize: 11"
-Processor: AMD Athelon II 1.7GHz
-Memory: 2gb DDR3
-Hard Drive: 250gb (not SSD)
-ODD: none
Summary: No info on what the battery life is like, and I'm not a fan of AMD processors, but this is a nice in-between for the VAIO and Macbook, at less than half the price! It probably won't be super fast, but you get much more storage space, and it's still a nice, small computer.

HP dm1z - $449.99
-Screen s ize: 11"
-Processor: AMD Dual-core processor 1.6GHz
-Memory: 3gb DDR3 (current promotion allows a 1gb upgrade for free)
-Hard Drive: 320gb (not SDD, current promotion allows upgrade from 250gb with no extra cost)
-ODD: none
Summary: The processor in this one is better than the Dell, you get more memory and more space, but are going to sacrifice on battery life

In the Dell and HP, to upgrade to a SSD would increase the cost by a few hundred dollars, but that would still make them cheaper than the first two options. The question comes down to brand dependability and customer support. Apple and Sony have stores (if limited, when it comes to Sony), HP and Dell do not. Apple has a much better option for in-warranty repairs (they aim to complete repairs within 3 business days) than any other, which will probably take at least 7-10 business days, if not longer. If you're going to take good care of your comptuer and don't have bad luck, then you might as well get something affordable! Everybody whines about all of these brands, so it all comes down to bias, $, and personal preference. And probably which is the prettiest.

I just did this comparison for fun (and to kill some time). At my job, I can get pretty good discounts on comptuers, and I do like a lot of the features on VAIOs, but the comptuers are rather expensive, even if they do have a lot of nice new features. My mom's preference for a Macbook Air comes from her perception of Macs being reliable and easy to use, which is valid, but the Air is not a good choice for a small business, neither would any of the units I compared. She would want to look at a Macbook or Macbook pro, and to compare those...well the VAIO comparable alternatives are at least $200 less for the same or better features =\

Anyway...back to computer drooling.

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