Just over a year ago, we bought a used Mac from a friend (I find myself an evangelist for Mac platform now). Before I got so Mac-savvy, I found out it was going up for sale and raised my hand. When I got it, it hit me what a G5 means (which they told me, but didn't mean anything to me at the time). Before Macs were built with Intel processors, they used PowerPC chips (a joint venture between Motorola and IBM) - and of course Motorola before that.
So, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I overpaid. I paid $300 for that, keyboard, mouse, speakers, and an Epson printer. Of course I checked first before I bought and it was a reasonable price. For a G5 made in 2006. Bought in 2011. What!? If any of you have a Windows machine, you are thinking I was nuts.
However, the G5 was a 64-bit processor, and that Mac works great. In fact, it is faster than the 2010 HP 64-bit laptop we bought for my wife - by a lot.
Turns out, I paid a fair price. I have since bought another used Mac off eBay, and have kept an eye on others. I decided to look at some items over the past 6 months, see what they sell for on eBay. The state has to be Used and Working.
- An iMac that retailed for $1,199 back in 2007 sells for about $300 on average (5 years, 25% of its value).
- A MacBook Pro that retailed for $1,199 in 2009 sells for about $700-$800 on average (a whopping 67% of its value after 3 years)
- The Mac Mini desktop, that retailed for $599 in 2007, sells for $200-$300 on average (about 42% of its value)
Let's compare that to some others:
- Lenovo Thinkpad W510 Core i7, 8GB RAM - that was about $2,500 retail in 2009, and now sells for - wait for it - about $350. 14%.
- Many desktops I know went for about $600-$700 new, now sell for about $60-$80. 10%-15% of their value.
Perhaps what I find most shocking, is that I find it shocking! If the Mac is really so clearly better than a Windows or other machine, then it should be no wonder that Apple makes profit oh it's hardware, and that used equipment retains its value so well.
Take into account what I said above - the older Macs still function quite well in today's world (I recommend sticking with the Intel-based ones after 2006 - unless you really don't care, don't get a G4 or G5 Mac). Am I an advocate for buying used equipment? You bet. Just beware, it often doesn't come with warranty, you can't get AppleCare on it unless you buy it from the Apple store (in which case they charge a bit more than the market, but less than a new machine). If you are a tech geek, you can fix it yourself (and find out how on Google).
Many people complain about paying a premium for Macs as compared to PCs. It is actually quite difficult to compare them, mostly because there are so many options. However, the PC market has become a free-for-all of competition which has lowered prices and margins, while the Mac market has remained quite high. However, Macs still have to compete - they are no longer in an island of "Mac enthusiasts" who are the only pool of customers. Yet, when it comes to value, let's look at what it is you need a computer for, and what you value. How do they stack up?
- Do you use it to do normal Internet stuff? (Web surfing, e-mail, videos, file sharing, etc.)
- In general, Macs are much more secure.
- There are a handful of viruses, which have affected a small portion of users, compared to PCs
- Windows prompts you for a large variety of operations to try to take away opportunities for bad software ("malware") to take over your computer, and give you control over whether or not they can do it. This is called UAC (User Access Control), it basically is the "Cancel or Allow" prompts Vista is infamous for introducing. Users get desensitized to so many prompts and end up clicking Allow before reading them. Mac has you type an administrator login only for specific actions that affect the system (software installs, changing configuration files). It is very secure. Software can't install without your express permission and password. In the newest OS X 10.8 Apple has introduced app signing by certification. If the app doesn't have a valid signed certificate, users can opt to not let it run.
- As you guessed it, the Mac is a multimedia machine from the beginnings in 1984. Windows is basically a kluge of hodge-podge patchwork of drivers, patches, updates, and features that have been assembled by Dr. Frankenstein and hopefully work together, given a framework (.NET Framework - a very buggy one to build software on).
- In Windows, you go to Windows Explorer. How many of you know what that is? Then, there is a search field in the upper right corner - type in a term, it finds things. Kind of. It's OK, much better than it used to be, but still leaves a lot to be desired.
- In Mac, you click the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen - all screens - and type a search term. It searches everything - e-mails, file names, file contents, picture and music attributes, databases, you name it - anything on your computer, and locates it instantly for you.
- Disk Maintenance - computers use what is called a "file system" to organize how they store files on disks. The Windows file system is NTFS, and as you can image, Windows NT was developed in the early 1990's, it really hasn't been updated since. It is horrible at maintaining a healthy file system as it gets fragmented and slower over time; the Mac uses modern techniques to keep disks performing at their best (and reduces overall wear and tear on the hardware so it lasts longer).
- Backup and protect your work - Windows does come with a backup system, but frankly a) it is hard for the average guy to find, and b) it is really up to the user to figure out how to back up, when to back up, and where to back up. The Mac has it built into the machine - an icon at the top of the screen indicates the status, it figures out what to back up and when (you can adjust), and where (it prompts you when you stick a blank drive in the USB slot, or you can set up a device on your network easily). Restoring it restores everything you care about (see the above link).
- Tons of features make the Mac a dream to use. All of these listed here are lacking on Windows.
- Multiple Desktops allow you to set up virtual screens that you can swipe between with a gesture, and you can arrange your windows on each screen. If you have multiple monitors, you have multiple monitors per desktop, so you can really arrange your work if you have a lot open at once.
- Back to where you were - when you log out, reboot, and log back in, the Mac restores everything the way you were when you left it - applications, documents opened, where the cursor was in the text file, etc. It is all set back to where it was.
- Locating, locking, and wiping a lost system - iCloud enables you to locate lost Apple equipment (including a Mac) if it is powered on the Internet, remotely lock, and optionally wipe it. There is also a commercial app that when activated, simulates a hardware failure, so that if a thief takes it into an Apple store for service, it displays to the Apple service personnel a notice that it has been stolen and a request to notify the police.
- Multi-finger gestures means you can scroll, swipe between screens, go back and forward among pages of a document or web history, and more without any buttons or clicks.
- Dashboard gives you important widgets, hidden while you work, but available at a moment's notice. Clock, calendar, reference materials, flight trackers - you name it, there are hundreds or perhaps thousands of widgets. Windows has widgets, but they are not widely developed by programmers, so the choices are limited, and they clutter your one single desktop.
The Mac does all of the same things a PC does, but better. Then you add performance and stability. It doesn't get slower over time. Backups are complete, simple, and automatic (buy a backup drive or device). Then take into account resale value. If you can expect to get 25 to 67% of the value 3 years later as opposed to 10%, what is really the better deal?