I haven't been in the market for a new laptop until recently, and I have to say, wow, I didn't know how much the prices had fallen in the PC laptop market. The entry-level PC models make the MacBook prices seem pretty outrageous.
I have specifically been looking at the base model MacBook, which retails for $999, with sales currently as low as $867. But just looking at the BestBuy.com website, there are many, many Windows PC models available for less than $600. In fact, I just counted, and there are 28 Windows notebook computers for less than $600. (If you don't count all the repeats in the Dell, Toshiba, HP, and Gateway product lines, there are probably 10-15 unique models.)
Beyond this, if you also include Netbook PCs in this analysis, you are quickly looking at dozens, or perhaps more than 100 PC models available for less than $600, with most Netbooks available for less than $400.
MacBook prices - $300 more for "entry level"
It's important to note that many of these notebook models are based on older Pentium processors, but still, the point is that you can spend less than $600 for an entry-level PC, or you can spend $900 or more for a MacBook, which is also Apple's entry-level notebook product.
With entry-level PCs priced at below $600, I can see where people will buy Windows systems instead of a MacBook or MacBook Pro, especially in a down economy. Personally, I am still going to buy a MacBook this time because (a) I prefer Mac OS X to Windows, (b) this is a gift, and I have to support it, and (c) these systems aren't necessarily equivalent (they are only equivalent when you use the phrase "entry level").
Finally, from a business standpoint I think the PC vendors are doing the right thing here, selling PC notebook models with older processors for much less than MacBook prices. I'm sure many consumers will see the $300 price difference, think the MacBooks are over-priced, and opt for the Windows PC.
MacBook battery life
As a quick follow-up, I have purchased the MacBook since first writing the content above (for just over $900), and I have to say, the battery life on the new MacBook really is excellent. As a test, I installed a bunch of software with the system running on the battery alone, and while my old MacBook Pro could never have done all that, I still had 60% of the battery left on the MacBook.