But perhaps it does not have to be comparable: she may not need a higher end system at all. Says Harry McCracken:
..asking whether Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs is like asking whether Audis are more expensive than General Motors cars: It’s a meaningless question without context, since the answer is entirely contingent on the models you choose.
He does the most thorough component by component, feature by feature price analysis and arrives to the conclusion that there is no Apple Tax: of the truly comparable laptops the Mac is not the most expensive.
Computers are not just a pile of hardware: they are work / productivity / communication / entertainment devices and are only relevant to us as far as they satisfy our personal needs. So a hardware to hardware, component to component comparison missed the big point, the human “component”.
And talk about “human component” there’s the concept of TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) that we talk about a lot when it comes to businesses (just ask Vinnie), how come we never factor it in with consumer purchases?
Unless you buy a Netbook which still runs good old reliable WinXP, the only choice of MS OS you can get is Vista, which famously fails left and right. I started to chronicle the hassle of just running a Vista PC and dealing with random, unexplainable failures, even created Virtual Invoices to Microsoft for my lost time, but eventually just gave up. The fact is that if you own a Vista computer, you will inevitably spend a few hours per week trying to figure out annoying odd behavior, googling for solutions, hacking your registry – basically just trying to get the damn thing work. And of course it always comes in the worse time, when you under crunch with – you know, your own work, not fixing PC’s.
Compare that to the anecdotal evidence of my Mac-user friends, who, despite occasional hiccups all agree: it just works. I don’t know how much you value your time, but it’s likely not free – the time I spent fixing this Vista crap made me regret my “cheap” purchase. And since my Virtual Invoices won’t ever get paid, I’m essentially working for Microsoft for free. We all are. The TCO of a Vista PC is far more than that of a Mac.