At a huge and splashy keynote address at their Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Apple announced a full refresh of their laptop computers using the new Intel Ivy Bridge processor. Up until that time Apple’s competitors had only included the new ‘3rd Generation Core’ chips on a couple of premium systems.
The new models were sleek, speedy, had gorgeous screens and Holy Smokes Look at the Price!
That reaction mostly was reserved for the base model of the new 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at $2199. It had been a long time since the reporters had seen more than two thousand dollars as the starting price. Say yes to super-sizing it on the memory (16gb) and SSD drive (768gb) and processor (2.6ghz) and the damages come to $3749.
If you think ‘well that is just the Retina Display’, it’s not. If you take the normal MacBook Pro and add the memory and SSD to make it equal to the entry level Retina Display model, the resulting price is $200 more than the beginning Retina Display model.
For those wondering what Retina Display means, it’s an Apple marketing term to describe a display that has so many pixels that the spacing of the pixels on the back of the eye is closer together than the light sensing nerves (at typical viewing distances). The Retina Display MacBook has 2880 X 1820 pixels on a 15.4 inch screen.
In contrast, three days later, Vizio announced the details of its inaugural lines of laptop and desktop computers at a low-key press briefing in Irvine, California. Vizio is mostly known for discount flat screen TV’s that you haul yourself to the checkout at Costco and Walmart. The computers were sleek, speedy, had gorgeous screens and Holy Smokes look at the Price!
Now to some people I am about to commit the ultimate sacrilege. I am actually going to compare Apple, with their gleaming premium retail monuments of glass and wood staffed by ‘Geniuses’ to something you haul to the checkout counter yourself at Walmart? Yes, that’s just the way I am. I will try my best to pick comparable specs for both systems.
|Macbook Air 13”||Vizio Thin + Light 14 ct14AU|
|Processor||1.8 ghz dual-core ii5||I5-3317U 1.7ghz dual core i5|
|Screen||13 inchMax Resolution 1440X900||14 inchMax resolution 1800 X 900|
|Graphics||Intel HD 4000||Intel HD4000|
|Thickness||.68 inch||.67 inch|
|Weight||2.96 lbs||3.39 lbs|
So a bigger screen and more resolution for $250 less. It does sacrifice about a third of a pound in weight, but a larger screen and case had to weigh something.
|Macbook Pro 15||MacBook Pro Retina 15||Vizio|
|Processor||2.3 ghz intel i7 quad core||2.3 ghz intel i7 quad core||2.3 ghz intel i7 quad core i7-3610QM|
|Screen||15.4 inch Max Resolution 1680X1050||15.4 inch Max Res. 2880 X 1820||15.6 inch Max Resolution1920X1080|
|Storage||1tb||256gb Flash||1tb With 32gb Flash cache|
|Graphics||Intel HD 4000||Intel HD 4000||nVidia GeForce GT 640M LE|
|Thickness||.95 inch||.71 inch||.86 inch|
|Weight||5.6 lbs||4.46 lbs||5.28lbs|
The non-Retina MacBook Pro has no advantage, but one can reasonably say that the Retina display is an advantage in appearance and that the SSD storage would have a slight performance boost (although at a quarter of the capacity). However, we are talking about a price difference of a thousand dollars. Considering that the Vizio screen is entirely capable of supporting a full 1080P HD movie (the most high resolution thing that most people ever think of doing with their laptop), that thousand dollars looks very big.
While it is fun comparing Apple and Vizio, which direction are the other computer vendors heading? For companies such as Dell and HP, both of which have announced a planned emphasis on the more high margin areas of computing, these two extremes look like the Scylla and Charybdis of laptop computing. Can they really spend enough to successfully develop a user base of such fierce loyalty that they will ignore a thousand dollars in favor of a premium brand? Or do they completely abandon traditional technology channels and ship them wrapped on pallets to the warehouse stores?