Laptop Hunters, Take 2: Still Unconvincing

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Microsoft's latest Laptop Hunters commercial just came out and it is guaranteed to open up a second front among Mac and Windows fanboys. This time, our shopper is Giampaolo, a nondescript, hip young guy on the lookout for his dream machine priced under $1500 (poor Lauren, in Microsoft's first ad in this series, only got $1000). Just like Lauren, Giampaolo ends up buying an HP laptop, but as we wander through a parade of big box stores and malls, Giampaolo delivers some heavy-hitting zingers directed at Apple that have little to do with price.

Giampaolo (or G,, as I like to call him) starts his quest by stating he is looking for a laptop with portability, battery life, and power. So off we go in his sporty looking, nondescript car to a nondescript mall in some nondescript corner of America. On the road, Giampaolo's assault on the premise that Apple computers are cool, trendy, and everything you need has already begun. Giampaolo says he's "technically savvy" (translation: I'm credible), he knows what he wants (translation: you'll like what I get), and he wants a computer that allows him to customize (translation: I don't want a Mac).

On the hunt, G. goes through a few laptops that won't make the cut before we land on the obligatory Mac consideration. "This is sooo sexy," G. says. "But Macs to me are about aesthetics more than they are the computing power." Whoa! Stand back -- a herd of Mac warriors is about to stampede our laptop-hunting hero. This line is sure to set off further hostilities between both camps of the basement-cave dwellers. One of the tenets of the Apple faithful is that the Mac is a superior machine -- which is why they are widely used by creative types like filmmakers, music producers, web designers and Brooklynite hipsters. G. just crossed the red line; now there will be no mercy.

"I don't want to pay for the brand," G. says. "I want to pay for the computer." Translation: The Mac is a gutless computer with incredible fashion sense. Now for the big finish, G. goes on about his really big hands, throws in an offhanded "that thing is gigantic," before finally settling on the HP of his dreams, an HDX X16. Smiling, G. gets some money back and says he's "feelin' great."

So what does the public have to say about G.'s tough talk?

Wizard, on e-Week's Microsoft Watch, chimed in with a rather excited, "GO GO GO!!! Yeah!" While Ray Gilden on Slippery Brick said, "Nice choice -- the Zune of computers." Ouch.

Over at Apple Insider, TenoBell said, "I imagine if someone did benchmarks between these two machines, would totally kill the premise of this ad."

Well, TenoBell, it just so happens someone is doing benchmarks between these two machines and that someone is PC World. According to PC WorldBench tests, the HP HDX X16 got an overall score of 76 and scored a 102 in PC WorldBench 6. However, the new MacBook Pro is still undergoing tests and we don't yet have a final result from the PC World Test Center. In July 2007, however, theprior vesion MacBook Pro had an overall score of 74 and scored only an 88 in Benchmark 6. So the jury is still out on the new MacBook Pro, but the machine will have to be vastly different from its predecessor to score much higher. It might be too early to declare a winner, but early signs indicate that Giampaolo just might be the "tech savvy" guy he claims to be.

"Nice work, G."

Full disclosure: Ian Paul has been typing away on a MacBook since February 2008. You can follow him on Twitter at @ ianpaul.

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