Steve Wessels has been helping some (non-technical) friends with a new PC purchase, and would like to recommend a Mac - but they ran across a really good deal from Dell, and now he's conflicted:
I remember thinking that maybe they could visit the local Apple store (they have one in their city) and just ask them for advice. I was thinking that maybe just the new Mac Mini and use the existing keyboard, mouse, display monitor, and maybe even printer might be a good idea. But the truth is that's a really cheap price from Dell.
Well, readers of this blog know that I've spent years being skeptical over the price divide between Windows boxes and Macs - the differential is typically in the $500-$750 range, which is a decent amount of money. In the past, I've always come down on the PC side of this one. However, consider the sort of scenario Steve describes (virus issues, setup problems, etc). Most people find a technical friend to help them, although a decent number take their boxes to a local repair shop.
The question you have to ask yourself is this: How much is my time worth? If you value your own time at $100 an hour, then it seems to me that a Mac will actually pay for itself over the course of 6 months. You won't have viruses, and most things (other than the Mini's DVI adaptor - grrr) "just work". Yes, that's soft money rather than hard money - but still. Based on my wife's experience with the marvelously inscrutable Media Center PC, the next time I'm in the market, I'm much more likely to get a Mac.