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iMac Businesses Apple Hardware

iMac vs. VAIO Showdown 86

paradesign writes "Citing both Apple and Sony's intentions to become the hub of the digital lifestyle, Popular Science has pitted an $1,800 800MHz flat-panel iMac up against a $3,400 1.7GHz Sony Vaio PCV-MXS10 to see which really comes out on top. The bottom line is that the Sony PC -- almost twice as expensive as the iMac -- just narrowly edged out the iMac, with an overall score of 42 to 40."
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iMac vs. VAIO Showdown

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  • by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @02:39PM (#3396898)
    Why would anyone buy a PC when you can get a mac, with better std equipment, for half the price?! I know all the arguments about TCO being better on pcs than macs, but still.. you're paying twice as much for a flashy OS and trendy case-design. For shame!
  • Not only... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @02:40PM (#3396908)
    Not only does the PC cost twice as much in this case, but the iMac will be worth twice as much as the PC when the owners go to resell them for an upgrade.
    • Re:Not only... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PoiBoy ( 525770 ) <`moc.sgnidlohiop' `ta' `nairb'> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @02:49PM (#3396973) Homepage
      What's even more interesting is that they are comparing a top of the line Sony with (arguably) an entry-level iMac.

      They should have compared that overpriced Sony with a PowerMac costing about the same amount of money.

      • I don't think the $1,800 Sony system would have done any better than the more expensive one tested; I seem to remember the same software bundle and the same features. The only thing you lose is the admittedly attractive casing and the stereo-style features.

        A PowerMac wouldn't have done much better than the iMac, either, since they weren't doing benchmark tests, and they were content with the resolution of the screen.

        I do wonder how they wound up with three stars for the Mac's video editing and four for the VAIO's. I'm not going to accept those results without at least some sort of description in the article, which they didn't provide. Maybe they simply gave Sony extra credit for the larger range of (mediocre) options it provides.

        I'd certainly rather have the iMac, even considering that it's so much cheaper than the Sony. It's a lot more elegant and definitely features superior design.

        D
        • I do wonder how they wound up with three stars for the Mac's video editing and four for the VAIO's.

          There were a couple other oddities in there as well. They complained about OS X demanding personal information at the first start up (it accepts fake stuff or you can quit the app) but don't mention XP's phone home forced registration nonsense.

          They also moan about iPhoto not having the facilities of Photoshop Elements - duh, go buy Photoshop Elements then. It's not as if it's expensive.
          • jweatherley wrote:

            > They also moan about iPhoto not having the facilities of Photoshop
            > Elements - duh, go buy Photoshop Elements then.

            Heck, get Photoshop 7. Considering the price difference between the two, a top of the line iMac + Photoshop 7 would still be cheaper than the Sony and absolutely blow it away on photos and graphics!

            The movie "Godzilla 2000" pretty much functioned as a similar showdown between a tiny Sony laptop and Macs. The only good feature of the Sony is that it fit in the back pocket for sliding down the elevator of a skyscraper as the Millenium alien destroyed it top down (not a circumstance most people find themselves in on a daily basis). Otherwise, use of the Sony generally makes people call you an "imbecile". The Sony was the first computer hacked by the alien. Use of any Windows software carried a severe risk of being stomped by the star. The non-imbecilic good guys used Macs. ;)

            The truely amusing thing: Tristar, a division of Sony, is the American distributor (and occasionally clueless dubber) of the film. They added some of the "imbecile" references to the Sony using character.

            What happens when you embrace and extend Godzilla? Nuclear heartburn!
            See "Godzilla 2000" (released in Japan as "Godzilla 2000 Millenium") for details.

          • At least on machines that I've encountered where XP was pre-installed, there was no phone home process at all. The only time I did encounter that was when I was installing a retail copy of XP home.
          • Not to mention, that if you press Command-Q during the Apple registration process, you can just click on "Skip" and cut right to creating user profiles. It may not be an obvious thing to try for new mac users, but surely veterans would find this option. Obviously, Apple doesn't tell you that you can skip the process - they want your info!
  • by faust2097 ( 137829 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @02:48PM (#3396969)
    The reviewer in this case put a lot of emphasis on the bundled software than what I'm used to. It's nice that the Sony includes Photoshop Elements, there's no OS X equivalent for that out right now [yes, I know about Graphic Converter].

    And if you're really into expandability, the base-model G4 is cheaper than the iMac. The iMac has never been and probably never will be for people who upgrade anything besides maybe the RAM. Keep in mind that over 90% of all PCs never have a single hardware upgrade in their lifetime.
    • If you know about graphic converter, you'd know it's significantly less hobbled than photoshop elements.

      Of course, I use Photoshop daily for a living, so I may be a bit more sensitive to the loss of functionality in Elements, but in my opinion, Graphic Converter is much better than Elements.
    • I have to agree with this; strike out the bundled software and the Mac probably would have won.

      The VAIO has no less than three video editing programs: Microsoft MovieMaker, Sony MovieShaker and Premiere (I think LE). I've never liked Premiere, and MovieMaker is dismal. MovieShaker struck me as the best of the lot, but that only after about ten minutes playing with it in the store.

      None of it was nearly as well done as iMovie, so I think the Mac wins video editing. I would have been interested in their evaluation of that category, which for some reason they didn't print.

      D
    • Keep in mind that over 90% of all PCs never have a single hardware upgrade in their lifetime.

      Heh, yeah they do... it's called a new computer [grin].

    • The reviewer weighed heavily on the fact that the Sony had more software versus the iMac in terms of video editing. This is the same kind of lunacy that confuses PC users that Apple tries to avoid. Better--if the PC can't do everything with only product, why bother?

      There was the matter of comparing an entry-level system vs. a packed PC workstation (a significant reason why this box cost almost twice as much). Such PC/Mac reviews are victim to this common disparity, but the Macintosh product usually manages to hold its own despite the overmatched competition.

      Other glaring problems: iMac uses FireWire and a slew of other ports that compensate for its lack of INTERNAL expansiion, which wasn't mentioned, but Sony's FireWire-licensed iLink was. The review seemed intent on talking about the iMac based on its appearance ("clever") rather than how it performs and the plethora of ports it offers. The review spoke only of Sony's ports in detail.

      Page 1 noted that Sony's drive can burn DVD-RWs--a feature that Apple avoids now because there are several standards in DVD-RW that are fighting for dominance, so there really ISN'T a standard there. There were more items that indicated that the reviewers weren't the most versed Mac OS users.

      Another bit of "Pot, meet Kettle" stuff involved the reviewer's complaint of having to register the computer when it first starts up. This "requirement" is nothing compared to Windows XP's requirement to register, which, if ignored, shuts down the OS after a few days until you do register. OS X doesn't have an install limit (technically--legally, that's another matter), but Windows XP cannot be casually copied. Apple, unlike Microsoft, doesn't take your registration info and pound you into its marketing machine via the OS. There's very, very little advertising and over-helping in OS X.

      This review has a bit of a bias as a result of the reviewers inexperience, but overall it shows that the iMac does hold its own, but the reviewers like the PC "give me X*N number of solutions to one problem" approach. I'm happy that PS chose a Sony PC to compare to the iMac--Sony is the only company that, in my opinion, has strong industry design that could rightly compare itself to Apple products.
  • iMovie (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Erchamion ( 568996 )
    From my experience with digital editing, I can say that it is quite unlikely that you would use input from anything other than analog or DV.

    Moreover, some things about iMovie that weren't mentioned was how very easy it was to learn--even my sister could do it! I created my first movie in less than an hour knowing nothing. New plugins are available on the net for those feeling cramped with the original package, some of which are free (from Apple). iMovie also seamlessly integrates with Quicktime, iDVD, and even iTunes (for tracks). The few windows digital programs I've seen are all right, but not nearly as intuitive.

    iMovie could use another star, though probably not the full five because there isn't yet a feature to automatically arrange tracks.
  • On the first page they compare the specifications of both machines and they list the iMac [apple.com] as having a "DVD-R" when in fact, the model they are using has a CD-RW/DVD-R. Also, they list the price as being $1799 when the current price is $1899. I'm willing to extend them a little leeway on that issue as this article may have been written before Apple [apple.com] raised the price.

    I'm also curious as to why they didn't equip the iMac with the same amount of ram (512mb) as this is an option Apple offers.

    Last but not least, I couldn't find the Sony Vaio PCV-MXS10 on Sony's website. It appears to be discontinued in favour of the PCV-MXS20 [sonystyle.com] which has a 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 and a 120Mb hard disk.

    The big difference between these two machines is the OS. I chose to buy an Apple because I wanted to run OS X [apple.com]. With a VAIO, I would pretty much be stuck with Windows. Sure, you could install Linux but you would lose support for all the nifty features.

    Overall, the article is a letdown. There isn't any point comparing Apples to oranges. (sorry, couldn't resist)

  • Notes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by singularity ( 2031 ) <nowalmart&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @03:20PM (#3397209) Homepage Journal
    One of the Smalldog [smalldog.com] newsletters [smalldog.com] had some commentary on the comparison. The latest newsletter has not hit the archives yet, but it did bring up some good points:

    1) He mentions that on the iMac "but sound quality and volume are limited." Of course, the Sony includes seperate speakers. For the price difference you could easily pick up a pair of aftermarket speakers.

    2) He mentions how easy the iMac is to set up (and then complains about the set-up screens), then goes on to comment on the Sony "I think we're going to have some fun with this rig - a thought that helps get me through a 45-minute setup."

    3) The author mentions "Windows XP is much more reliable, and somewhat easier to use, than its predecessors." Well, perhaps. How is it in comparison to Mac OS X, though? I have had my new Mac for over three weeks now and have not had a single crash or kernel panic.

    4) He often comments about the poor included software on the Sony.

    All in all, it is a good review, although I wish he would mention more than a couple of times the drastic price difference and the fact that most short-comings on the iMac could be more than made up by the price difference (i.e. He comments that the included photo manipulation software on the Sony is better than iPhoto for adjusting/cropping/etc. For the price difference, though, you could almost pick up Photoshop for Mac OS X).

    Also, I know that GraphicConverter is included on new G4 machines. It is included on the new iMac?

    [Boycotting the Boycott.]
    • Re:Notes... (Score:5, Informative)

      by foobar104 ( 206452 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:18PM (#3398008) Journal
      I have had my new Mac for over three weeks now and have not had a single crash or kernel panic.

      Just to weigh in with my (not entirely on-topic) experience. I've been running OS X on my iMac (G3 400 MHz, 640 MB RAM) since it first went on sale. Don't remember how long ago that was, but it's been a while. The only reason I ever rebooted into OS 9 was to burn CDs and play a couple of games. When 10.1 came out, that ended. I haven't booted OS 9 in forever. I also haven't suffered a single OS crash in forever.

      I did make it kernel panic once. I think I was running 10.0.3 or 10.0.4; can't recall. I unplugged my FireWire CDRW while I had a CDROM in it. The Mac panicked. But that problem was apparently fixed months and months ago.

      Pretty dang stable.
      • I installed OS X on my G4/400mhz as soon as it came out. However I only had 128megs of RAM installed. It was so damn slow it was almost unusable! Even with 256megs of RAM its very slow. I guess 512megs is a min for powerusers.
        • I don't agree. I have 256 MB in my iBook and I can't really tell much of a difference between it and my iMac. Both are G3s, same speed, but the iMac has 640 MB. I use 'em both pretty seriously, but I can't usually tell a difference.
  • by azosx ( 568180 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @03:28PM (#3397264)
    A Zen-like simplicity to be sure, until I get to the initial software setup routine, and then Big Brother shows up. Turns out that if I don't enter all my personal information into Apple's online registration forms, I'm not going anywhere. Yes, there's a privacy statement, but I don't think I should have to pony up personal info to use a product I've paid for.


    Fortunately this is not entirely true. True, when turning on your new Apple Computer for the first time you will be presented with a registration screen, but luckly by pressing Command + q, you can simply skip the registration process and finish the initial setup without entering any personal information.

    • True, but that option is not shown on the registration forms. One would have to have used a Mac before to figure it out.
    • And the writer obviously doesn't understand that this registration process sets the beginning date of his warranty. And, IIRC, it also sets up your mac.com account, among other things.
    • When I set up a Vaio notebook for my wife, you need to enter all the same crap and are forced to register or you get a 90-day warantee instead of the 1-year warantee. I don't even think you can avoid entering info at all, it takes down the info and stores it in the Vaio awaiting a modem/ethernet connection to the net. It does ask if its OK before sending the info.

      FWIW, neither Apple nor Sony has ever spammed me or sent marketing materials, and I figure that having my name, address, phone# and computer serial# on record with the manufacturer is rather handy in case one of my machines decides to walk off for a bit.

      There's very little spying they can do, you haven't installed anything yet, haven't done any work on it, there's no pr0n in the browser cache, your machine is the same as every other customer's and you can always fake your info if needed.

  • I can build a pretty badass system for a lot less than that VAIO. But anyway, they really tested out software features and not hardcore system specs. The G4 really isn't much faster than its counterpart at the same clock speed unless you count floating point math. I like Macs but I think that this is a unfair bench considering the magazine that published it. Refer to this Slashdot story for more. Why I'm not buying a Mac [slashdot.org]
    • For further understanding, try the following two links:
      P4 and G4 Comparison Part 1 [arstechnica.com]
      P4 and G4 Comparison Part 2 [arstechnica.com]

      In summary, from what I've read, it is a good rule of thumb to multiply the G4 clockspeed by 1.33 to get a better comparison, though I'm not sure if this includes acceleration due to Altivec code.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The G4 really isn't much faster than its counterpart at the same clock speed unless you count floating point math.

      Actually I don't know if it is even faster at floating point math. What it IS faster at is Vector Processing (Which can include single precision FP math). Fortunately for Apple most of the mutlimedia tasks which are processor intensive are ALSO things that can use the Altavec instructions. (encoding, decoding, rendering graphics effects etc.) So for most multimedia tasks the G4 has a significant advantage.
  • by mobydobius ( 237311 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @04:28PM (#3397720) Homepage
    Of course, what the article fails to consider is that I can order an iPod, an additional 256MB RAM, and a top of the line Palm for my new iMac, and still stay $400 under the Sony. For someone actually looking to use one of these machines alongside digital toys, that makes a difference.
  • Why did slashdot post a consumer-ended computer review? This is meant to be viewed by people who are relatively ignorant of computers (software package?! I dont need no stinking software package!), and I would think most people on slashdot are WELL beyond the level of knowledge presented in that article. Next time post something about REAL computing issues such as stability, performance, long term investment, etc.
    • What do you expect from free? Er, mostly free.

      If you want the review to be useful, from a Mac User standpoint it's a "What Computer Mags Think About Macintosh Computers" article veiled as a review for end-users. What consumers think is important, even to geeks.

      And good luck using your computer without software.
  • by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @05:40PM (#3398144) Homepage Journal
    This is of no use to me, as I never consider buying a computer unless it is at least 45 points.
  • $3400? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Space Coyote ( 413320 ) on Tuesday April 23, 2002 @06:16PM (#3398345) Homepage
    For the amount of money they spent on the Vaio, they could have bought themselves quite a nice piece of G4 Tower goodness. The Vaio wouldn't stand a chance in that showdown :)
  • I use such formula to decide my decision. $3400 is too much.
  • I do admit that the VIAOs are nice, it is not the computer it is the OS for the most part. I give them credit for the memory stick. but comparing a high end PC to a medium-low end macintosh, one thing is, 0WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!!! iMac is nowhere near the best of the best. Lets see a duel gig g4 stand to the BEST PC out there. I say, if the iMac came that close to their 'high end' model, then thats pretty sad, on their part. I feel sorry for the people who actualy believe that, there is one hope though, install unix-based os ;) as for the rest of us bullhorn hard headed monkeys, we prefer our macintoshes thank you very much. They are just better!!!
  • I think ultimately the Sony came out on top in this comparison because there was not a price category in the awarding of stars. Had there been, the Sony would have gotten one or no stars and the Apple would have gotten three or four (depending on your tastes...i probably would have given it four given the features included). In either case, this would have resulted in a tie at worst and a win for Apple at best. The bottom line is that the apple seems the better buy when price is considered. I currently use Windows 2000, but have used Mac OS X extensively and Win XP Pro some. It seemed that Mac OS X was configured nearly optimally configured out of the box. Win XP on the other hand was very annoying to use with too much to read in order to accomplish anything nontrivial. Turning off all the hand-holding makes it more manageable, although this takes time and one can never be sure when a dialogue with a paragraph of text is going to show up. This is article is the first I have seen to favor Win xp over Mac OS X, especially for ease of use. The difference between these operating systems alone would be reason enough for me to use a Mac over a Win box. The comparison is also a litlte unfair, because for th price of the Viao, one could afford one of those sweet dual G4s with a flat panel display or a powerbook (minus the dvd burner, which could be added as a firewire external for the price difference). Essentially, I would never by 3500 for a wintel box, while the Mac offerings at that price point are quite enticing, although i will never be able to afford that kind of hardware. Ironically, when I bought my computer, it was price that motivated me to get a Dell over an Apple since at the time, the only cheap Apples were the old iMacs with the tiny CRT displays and I wanted a bigger monitor. Hopefully Apple will maintain good offerings for the price and keep improving OS X.
  • Anyone know or willing to guess how the ibook would fare against the vaio notebooks? There's no way in hell I can afford a TiBook right now, and most x86-based notebooks seem to be more in line price-wise with the iBook.
  • I remember back when apple was doing very badly in 1996 there were rumours of an Apple Sony tie up. They are both competeing in the same niche - fancy comsumer high tech goods. Both are very good at what they do. Both are, in an industry that almost completely lack innovation (despite the claims of another certain large company), actually innovative. I sometimes wish that Apple could sometime do a deal with Sony to collaborate in product design and OS. Sadly, of course, this is never going to happen.
  • comapring a $1900 machine with something that costs only $1600 more! it appears that the reviewer is a mac fan from the system 7 days, hence the comment about WinXP being more stable/usable than its predecessor (my gf has a brand new dell with WinXP and Office XP, and it is crap [of course, her mom has the same setup and it works fine...]), and not liking OSX. the weaknesses that the reviewer points out, namely iPhoto, has already been pointed out. my opinion is, if you want all the frills, that is what Photoshop is for. on the side, if iPhoto is too good, Photoshop will lose interest in supporting OSXI or whatever comes next.

    IMO, YMMV.

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