Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
# 10:04:00 AM:

Paying the big bucks

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People like me who use Macintosh computers tend both to spend more to buy our machines and to keep them longer than those who use Windows or Linux computers. My main Mac, on which I'm typing this, is a first-generation Power Mac G3, built in late 1997 and bought in May 1998, close to five and a half years ago. (My PowerBook is even older, but I only acquired it this year.)

Like any car, however, any computer eventually gets old enough that it's not worth putting any more money into. Mine have reached that stage, and I should start saving for a new one sometime in 2004. My rule of thumb with Macs (and other Apple computers before that) has always been to spend $3000-$4000 (Canadian), because that will get the best bang for the buck and, in the end, lead to the lowest long-term cost, since I can keep a $3000 Mac running productively for five years or more.

Now I have a dilemma, though: should it be a new $3000+ PowerBook, or a new $3000+ Power Mac G5? If I calculate purely on probable useful longevity, the more expandable and more powerful Power Mac is the way to go. But I find I use even my current ancient PowerBook (in the kitchen, in the living room, on the road) more than my desktop G3 (in the basement office only). So a PowerBook might be a more efficient use of my money.

And yeah, I could buy a decent Windows PC (say a fairly tricked-out Dell for $1700) and a Windows laptop (a low-end ThinkPad goes for as little as $850 direct from IBM) for less than either of my preferred options. Even Apple will sell me an older-design Power Mac G4 brand new for $1800, and an iBook for $1450.

But what fun would that be?


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