A Tale of Two Ultrabooks

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Manufacturers of Windows based PCs have all jumped on the ultrabook bandwagon. They cannot compete with Apple on price. Let’s compare an HP ultrabook with a MacBook Air:

HP Envy 14-3010NR Spectre 14″ Ultrabook ($1399)
– 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M Dual-Core
– 4GB DDR3 RAM
– 128 GB SSD
– Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000
– 14″ HD+ Infinity LED-Backlit Display
– 1600 x 900 Native Resolution
– usb 3.0
– usb 2.0
– hdmi
– mini display port
– sd card
– mmc
– 802.11 a/b/g/n wifi, Bluetooth with WiDi
– Beats Audio with stereo speakers
– webcam and microphone
– Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
– 9.5 hour battery life
– size 12.88 x 0.79 x 8.70″
– weight 3.97 lb

13″ MacBook Air ($1299)
– 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3MB shared L3 cache
– 4GB of 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM
– 128 GB SSD
– Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor
– 13.3″ HD LED-backlit display
– 1440 x 900 native resolution
– thunderbolt (can do HDMI with adapter)
– USB 2.0
– SD card
– 802.11 a/b/g/n wifi, Bluetooth
– Stereo Speakers (no Dr. Dre Beats, yo)
– integrated webcam and microphone
– OS X Lion, 64 bit (can run Windows dual boot or virtually)
– 7 hours battery life, 30 days standby
– size: 12.8 x 0.68 x 8.94″
– 2.96 pounds
– Can share DVD or CD drive of any Mac or PC
– backlit keyboard

The shocking thing here is that the Mac is $100 less than the PC and it has a faster processor! Apple is only more expensive if you compare a Mac to a really low end PC. If the PC is comparable, it will sell for more. Why? Economy of scales. Apple does not make dozens of Mac models. They make a few models, and manufacture millions of each model. They can make a better computer for less than anyone else. Of course, they do not make a $300 laptop. If you are looking to buy a Mac, the cheapest you can get is the Mini, at less than $600, but then you need to buy a keyboard, mouse/trackpad, and monitor. Many people just connect the Mini to their HDTV.

Perhaps the PC makers need to take note of this and once again copy Apple. This time, copy their strategy of making fewer models. The Detroit auto industry has finally figured out that they need to do this. Just offer people a few models, all of which are worth buying. That’s what Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Subaru have done for decades.

One advantage of the HP ultrabook is that it has WiDi, which, as I have mentioned in a previous article, was the inspiration for Apple’s AirPlay. WiDi allows PC’s to wirelessly screen share with an HDTV, using an adapter unit which costs about $50. Of course, with the savings on the MacBook Air, you could buy an Apple TV 2 and AirParrot, and have $10 left. The Apple TV 2 can do more than screen sharing. It can integrate with iTunes and also has standalone functionality (Netflix, iTunes in the Cloud, YouTube, Vimeo, NHL, NBA, MLB, etc.) (continue…)

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