Apple's recent announcement that Mac Java support is deprecated inspired me to look at the so-called "Apple Tax" -- the premium price tag you're going to pay when buying an Apple computer, whether that be a MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro instead of a Windows PC.
I just ran a comparison of a base model Apple MacBook versus two different Dell Windows notebook PCs, and the numbers are pretty scary:
The Apple Tax on a base MacBook is a whopping $219 to $299
more than faster, better-equipped Dell notebook models.
Apple Tax - MacBook comparison
Here's how the three systems I looked at match up:
|Apple MacBook||Dell Inspiron 14R||Dell Studio 14|
|Display||13.3" LED||14" LED||14" LED
|Processor||2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
|Video||NVIDIA GeForce 320M||ATI Radeon HD550v||512MB ATI Radeon
|Memory||2GB DDR3||3GB DDR3||4GB DDR3|
|CD/DVD||CD and DVD RW||CD and DVD RW||CD and DVD RW|
|Battery||10-hour||5-hour||5 hour, 27-minute|
|Weight||4.7 lbs||4.96 lbs||5.25 lbs|
|Ports||Ethernet, 2 USB,
|Ethernet, 2 USB,
7-in-1 Media Card Reader
|Ethernet, 2 USB,
34mm Express Card slot,
8-in-1 Media Card Reader
(Note that you can find a comparison of the speeds of Intel processors at this link.)
Apple Tax - MacBook versus PC notebook comparison
As you can see, both Dell Windows systems have more processor speed, memory, and features. The only hardware advantage the MacBook offers is the longer battery life.
Of course the other major difference in this Apple Tax debate is the operating systems, Apple Mac OS X versus Microsoft Windows. For at least the last five years that had been a no-brainer in favor of Apple, but these days with Windows 7, Microsoft has narrowed the gap considerably.
Summary: MacBook versus PC "Apple Tax"
If you look at this from the perspective of a current Windows PC owner, I think you can see the Apple Tax very clearly in this MacBook versus Dell notebook comparison. You're looking at paying up to $299 more for a base mode MacBook compared to a Dell notebook, and the MacBook certainly has less to offer from a hardware perspective. Are you willing to "make the switch" at this price point?
I've certainly been willing to pay the Apple Tax for my recent Mac purchases, but with Apple looking to drop support of the Java programming language (see Apple - Mac Java is deprecated, and Apple Mac Java is deprecated, what it means), Mac systems aren't worth paying the Apple Tax any more.