Apple MacBook Pro and the DTK

Apple MacBook Pro and the DTK

I finally had the ability to upgrade my Powerbook after waiting about 8 months too long. But it turns out that wasn’t the only good news today.

Let’s first compare what you get from Apple vs. something somewhat equivalent from Dell. There is no exact comparison that I have been able to find since it appears that Dell only sells a 17" laptop with the Intel Core Duo 1.83 ghz. The name of their beast is the Inspiron E1705. Much like the MacBook, it has a base price of $1999, though it starts out at a faster clock rate. The Macbook I ordered has 2GB of RAM, 100GB 7200 RPM disk, a remote control, a DVD-RW drive, and a 256M graphics card for $2899. On the Dell side you can get the same specs (with a 17" LCD) for $2792. Interestingly, the 17" LCD and the Apple 15" LCD have the same resolution so they are roughly equivalent. I wish that Apple had the 2.16ghz Core Duo processors and a PC card slot, but otherwise I am very happy with the configurations they are offering. One thing I did notice about the Dell was that no matter whether you ordered 1G or 2G you get 2 DIMMs. Apple gives you the option of choosing 1G of memory (in 1 DIMM) and then buying your 2nd DIMM elsewhere for somewhat less than what Apple and Dell charge. A minor nit, but something you should be aware of. Also, I can forgo the AppleCare since 1) they give me 1 year free, 2) AMEX doubles my warranty, and 3) they have an extremely reasonable fixed rate ($327 everything included, about the same as AppleCare) for fixing things out of warranty if it would be fixed if it were in warranty. Also, since they let you wait till the 1 year mark to buy AppleCare I might do it if I have to get it repaired in warranty for any reason.

As you can see, for high-end hardware, Apple doesn’t have a bad price. I know that many people will be able to get discounts from Dell to reduce this price though they claim they already took $300 off. Myself, because I develop software at the bleeding edge, am also a member of the Apple Developer Connection. That means I can take an extra 20% off that purchase price for a final price before tax/shipping of $2,319.00. Not that bad.

What’s really interesting is if we look at the one difference that I overlooked in the above calculation, $/lb. It turns out that the Dell machine has a much lower $/lb than Apple. For instance, that Dell machine weighs 8.2lbs while the Macbook weighs 5.6 lbs. So before the discount is applied, the Macbook costs $518 per pound of computer while the Dell is much less at only $340 per pound of laptop. As you can see, if you are buying computers by the pound, the Dell is a much, much better bargain.

So after I was totally thrilled with Apple this morning and I ordered my Macbook Pro, I then later got an email, an IRC message, and an IM all telling me the same thing at the same time. Last year I “leased” a Developer Transition Kit. This DTK was essentially an Intel P4 3.6 ghz machine running Mac OS X. The idea is that you would use the machine to develop new software and test old software on an Intel based system running Mac OS X to make sure that there was software for it come this announcement today. The catch was that the machine cost $1000 and I would have to return it at the end of 2006. Since I was getting the machine in June and I really don’t use computers longer than that most of the time anyway and it was cheaper than an equivalent machine at the time I decided to order one and use it as my main development machine. Its actually a really nice machine and has worked very well for me over the last 7 months or so and I was perfectly happy giving it back to me. Well, what I found out today, is that Apple is going to trade me an Intel iMac 17" for my DTK, straight up. So not only did they let me use the machine for more than half a year, they are also going to give me a $1300 computer to replace it that I can keep forever. This was possibly the most developer friendly thing I have ever seen from any company ever. They are going to feel so much developer love for this, their heads may just explode. What a brilliant marketing move. Undoubtedly, almost all of these machines will find their way into the hands of loved ones and other switchers. “Real” developers just ordered the Macbook Pro.