Posted by: Frank | September 22, 2021

Frank blogged on September 22, 2021 at 10:04PM

I am contemplating purchasing a new laptop computer so that I can access and learn the latest operating systems. I am most interested in Window 11 because Windows is the primary operating system that I use every work day, but the integrations between iPadOS and MacOS also have me interested in a Mac. If I buy a Mac I can also run Windows 11 in a VM, so that will provide me the best of both worlds.

So, I watched the Microsoft Event today to see whether Microsoft might announce something that will influence my purchase decision. My conclusion is none of the products announced today fit in the budget that I have in mind because of the add-ons one has to purchase to gain full functionality.

Microsoft did announce nice looking products today, but for me they have a real pricing problem. Take, for example, the new Surface Go 3. The lowest price version costs $399, which comes with 4 GB of RAM and only 64 GB of storage, which I really do not think is enough storage for any productivity device in 2021. Consequently, the lowest model I would consider is the mid-tier 8 GB RAM, 128 GB model at $549, but that only gets you the tablet. You will want to add a type cover that costs at least $100 and most likely a Surface Pen for another $70, for a grand total of $719, and that combo is with an Intel Pentium processor rather than the more powerful Intel Core i5 in the Surface Laptop Go. In my opinion Microsoft should include the type keyboard with the Surface Pro and Surface Go at their current price.

My research prior to the event tells me that the Microsoft product that most makes sense for a reasonable PC running Windows 11 is the Surface Laptop Go. While it won’t run MacOS, you can buy a well equipped model (8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) for $800.

Thing is, I can also buy a Mac Mini with the same memory, storage, and price and for less than $200 also have the ability to run Windows 11. Of course, the Mini is a desktop and my bias is toward the portability of a laptop, so that has me looking at a Macbook Air for $200 more, which is pushing the price a bit higher than I would like.

Of course, I don’t intend to make a decision until after the expected Apple Mac event that should happen in October. Rumors are a new Mac Mini and Macbook Pros will be announced, but not an Air. A new Macbook Pro might influence pricing of the current Airs. My ideal would be a new entry level Pro with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD starting at the current $1299 “base” price, which I think would mean Apple could drop the price of the current Airs by $100 to $200. The logic being it would not make sense to have the high end Air and the Low end Pro with the same specs and same price because nobody would by the high end Air. (The only reason to buy the high end Air over the Pro right now is the 512 GB storage at $50 less price!)

The other question is, what will the be the specs for the new Mac Minis? In this case I expect the specs will remain the same, the prices will remain the same, and there will be a processor upgrade. However, the consequence there might be availability of the current Mac Minis at lower prices. An 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD model at nearly $600 is appealing.

One might think the reasoning I’ve described above is an “apples to oranges” comparison. I see it as a “get what I need” versus an “investment” comparison. I bought my last Macbook Air 15 years ago, and it still functions! It’s really slow compared to most devices today, but what that experience tells me is that buying an Apple laptop or desktop realistically gets me 5 to 7 years of use. I can buy a cheaper laptop to just run Windows 11 but it probably gets me 4 years of real use.

So, now we wait for the next Apple event. Traditionally Apple has held two events in the fall, one in September to announce new iPhones, which they did, and one in October featuring Macs and iPads. Most predictions I have read expect Apple to announce a new iteration of their M1 processor for new Macbook Pros and Mac Pros, thus one more event to gather information for making my purchase decision.

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