I recently wrote a response to my dad who emailed me for advice on buying a new computer. Like so many others, he has asked me for this kind of advice before. The Cliff's Notes version of my advice is always, "Buy a Mac." What kills me is that almost every time, they don't listen to me and buy a cheap...uh...inexpensive Windows box. Why do they even ask me? They don't listen.
Well, this is my third attempt to convince him to get a Mac. Think about it. I still have the iMac I bought in 1999 (it's running OS 10.3). FULL DISCLOSURE: I also have a 4 year old iMac G5 and a 3 year old PowerBook G4 (both running Leopard). I have three so that I, my wife, and the kids can each have our own machines. He's shopping for a third because the first two were devoured by viruses, spamware, malware, adware, etc. They no longer function.
I thought I would post the advice I offered him for anyone else on the fence to read. Read on and choose wisely:
The laptop has an older processor (not the Core 2 Duo) and it doesn't say what speed. That usually means it's not fast. If it were, they would highlight it. The desktop is the current standard chip set (Core 2 Duo) but it still doesn't say the speed. $399 is a nice low price but you know what they say, "You tend to get what you pay for."
If you really just need a low end machine with a solid warranty, it would be a good fit. It would probably work for you but you know me... standard disclaimer: you'll be happier and more satisfied with an iMac. It's loaded, has a 20" built-in display, and comes with a free printer all for $1,199.
I would also recommend a 1 GB RAM upgrade ($75), iWork ($49 pre-installed), and Apple Care 3 Year Warranty ($169). Fully decked out with all the extras I recommend, it would be $1,492. That's a lot more than $399 but you know what they say, "You tend to get what you pay for."
Even if you just go for the 20" iMac with a free printer for $1,199, you're getting security (the days of worrying about viruses, spyware, malware, Norton/McAfee updates is over), bigger hard drive, superior user experience, and tons of bundled software that you can't get for Windows.
Final paragraph of propaganda: The Dell will work. But think about this; how many Windows users do you know that really love their computers? "Tolerate" probably comes closer to the sentiment they have for their unattractive boxes (I'm a Mac snob, I know it). Now think about this; how many Mac users do you know that don't sound like they've joined a religious cult? I'm guessing Zero. To use a Mac is to love your Mac. Why is that? If you get one, you'll know. That's all I'm saying. :-)