Journal: News & Comment

Monday, May 31, 2004
# 1:00:00 AM:

Bottom of the line, and about damn time

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I've used Apple computers for a long time. This photo shows me standing in front of a bunch of Apple boxes in 1985, three years after my family first bought an Apple II Plus. I bought my first Macintosh, a Centris 660AV, in 1993, after having used them at school, work, and home (borrowing my roommate's machine) for some years beforehand.

I tend to run those computers long, like people who drive a Honda Civic till the odometer reads 300,000 km. Right now, the newest Macs in my house are a Power Mac G3 built in 1997, and a PowerBook 1400 built in 1996. Neither will run the latest version of the Mac OS. Both are officially obsolete.

So, more than six years after our last one, my wife and I just bought a brand new Apple computer. She's a teacher, so we managed to get an educational price at Apple's Canadian online store, and the Mac should arrive at our house sometime this week. Every other time I've bought an Apple computer, from that II Plus to the 660AV to the G3, and even the PowerBook, it was near, but not quite top of the line for its time. I figured that when the time came for a new Mac sometime this year, I'd go for a G5, or at least a high-end iMac.

But money was an object, and when I looked at the value equation, in the end it was more worth our while to get a bottom-of-the-line Mac, and then max out its capabilities, than to get a higher-end computer and be able to afford to add less to it.

So, in the end, we bought an eMac, perhaps the best Mac deal in history. With a 1.25 GHz G4 processor, a fairly fast system bus, and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics, it is more powerful in almost every respect than the Power Mac G4 that topped Apple's lineup less than a year ago, but the educational pricing starts at $1000 Cdn, and that includes the display and speakers.

In 1993 and 1998, I spent $3000 Cdn—in those years' dollars—on higher-end but bare-bones Macs. For this eMac, I bumped up the memory to a full gigabyte, then included a 160 GB internal hard disk, a DVD-writing SuperDrive, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a stand, two different external video adapters (for a second monitor or TV/video), a USB MIDI interface for our digital piano, and an external 160 GB FireWire hard disk to back up the entire system. In other words, other than AirPort wireless networking, I maxed it out. All for under $2200 Cdn before taxes, less than the price of a bare-bones G5 tower with less memory, a smaller hard drive, and no display. Less than a decent flat-panel iMac with a small hard drive, slower processor, and no DVD-burning capability costs, in fact.

Yeah, I paid for the expedited shipping.


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