Is it Time to Switch to an Apple Laptop?

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My Take on Today's Announcements

Before today's event started, rumors abounded: an $800 value Mac was incoming. Sure, it would make a boatload of sense to try and create an affordable portable in this economy. But nobody was terribly surprised by today's pricing announcements. People joke about the PC/Mac exchange rate. Heck, Microsoft's PR machine made a crack yesterday about a "Mac Tax"--paying a premium for the Apple name. Here's a breakdown.

Announced: The white 13-inch MacBook ($999) comes with Intel Core 2 Duo, pokey Intel integrated graphics, 1GB RAM, and a 120GB hard disk.

My two cents: Is Apple offering anything new here besides cutting a few bucks off the price? If the company had crafted a real value machine, it might have been an interesting game-changer. With all of the talk about how the Mac OS is more efficient than Windows Vista, surely Apple could could have cobbled together a mini-notebook capable of running a low-key Leopard? In this economy, I'd wager that it would sell like hotcakes. Apple hotcakes.

Announced: The step-up MacBooks, starting at $1299, ship with the nVidia GeForce 9400M integrated GPU (goodness!) and 2GB of RAM.

My two cents: Are these step-up MacBooks better than what's already out there? Hang on a sec. Running a quick spec check on a 13-inch notebook at the HP store, I find that you can assemble a dv3500t with 3GB of RAM and a250GB hard disk for about $300 less than the MacBook costs.

Announced: The Air keeps the same basic pricing scheme as the first-generation models ($1799 and $2499), but beefs up the hard drive (a 120GB HDD or a 128GB SSD) and the nVidia GeForce 9400M GPU.

My 2 Cents: What's interesting to me about the Air announcement is that it puts this machine squarely in competition with Samsung's recently announced NP-X360--which costs roughly the same amount. The two dance spec-for-spec most of the way. Apple has the nVdia edge, which could make it the winner, but Samsung offers more ports (and HDMI). Which is better? We'll tell you after we test them both.

Announced: The 15-inch MacBook Pro (starting at $1999) is the real deal.

My 2 Cents: Of all of the Apple announcements made today, this one is probably the likeliest to sway people to embrace the Mac side of The Force. This is where you'll see nVidia let you choose between two different GPUs on the same machine.

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