December 8, 2004

"So let's get this puppy configured..."

Why should you buy a Mac, when there are PC's for under $500? Bill Palmer plunges into the thickets of PC websites to try to find these beasties, and see how they compare with the lowest-priced Mac, the $799 eMac:

...I mean, this is the world's number one seller of computers? I read yesterday that Dell wants to be the "WalMart of personal computers". With a site like that, Dell would struggle to be called the K-Mart of computers. But I digress. I came here to find myself a sub-$500 computer, and while I had no idea whether I would find that in the "work" or the "home" section of the site, I figured I'd go with "home", since that's what (I think) I was in on the H-P site. I guess I picked the right one, because I found myself a model that wasn't just sub-$500, it was way sub-$500. Yep, I found myself something called a "Dimension 2400" for a mere $449. Yowzah!
So let's get this puppy configured. Let's see how cheaply I can put this thing on par with the eMac. I click on the Dimension 2400, and it presents me with what appears to be a feature list, with a series of defaults already selected for me, so just because Michael Dell dresses like a trustable fellow, I go with the defaults without looking at them (because an honest, upright company would certainly have the least expensive options selected as defaults, right?), and suddenly the "new" cost of my $449 computer has conveniently been adjusted to $846.

Now, for all the times that you or I might use "LOL" in online conversation to suggest that we're laughing out loud, there are in fact very few times where most of us are sitting at the computer and are compelled to literally laugh out loud. This was one of them. I also fell out of my chair. Literally. Of however few times you find yourself slumped to the floor, overcome with laughter, this was one of them for me....

... Oh, I went back and began to try to fiddle with the add-ons to make the thing a bit cheaper, but as I added $89 for a Combo Drive and $50 for a FireWire "IEEE 1394 adapter" (an adapter?), I gave up. At least H-P managed to keep up the sub-$500 charade going until the process was nearly complete. But Dell? They only lasted two clicks before admitting that their cheapest model is more or less price-comparable to the eMac as well...

The tricks used to sell "$500 PC's" at the price they really want to sell them at are pathetic. Pay extra to get a word processor! Egad. (eMac comes with Appleworks, Quicken, GarageBand, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD.) Or the "option" for an extended warranty that can't be turned off? Or CD burner or Firewire not included...

Posted by John Weidner at December 8, 2004 9:07 PM
Weblog by John Weidner