Averatec 3250 versus Apple IBook

59 Comments

A diehard Apple fan, that I am, it pains me to write what I am going to write. The new Apple IBook with its brilliant $999 price, and all the cool features pales in comparison with Averatec 3250for the same price point. For a Windows XP PC, it is pretty radical and cool looking, has more hard drive capacity (60GB), more in-built RAM (512 Megabytes) and has all a DVD+ CD-Burner. IBook has 30 gigabyte hard drive, and 256 MB built-in memory. Two points for Averatec. Averatec has 3 USB 2.0 ports, while Apple has two. Another point for 3250. The IBook scores a bonus point because it has a Firewire port.

Both computers evenly matched up on Airport and other networking stuff. Averatec is 0.4 pounds lighter, and its sleek silver casing does stand-up to IBook’s cool lush white looks, though given my bias, Apple has a certain “Euro” feel to it. In other words Averatec is not as hideous as a Gateway, Dell or a HP computer. Given that, I think the two computers are tied in the looks, and weight department. Extra Half-point to Apple for a smarter charger unit.

Mobile AMD Athlon™ XP-M 2200 processor is the crucial difference, and is more brisk in comparison to Apple’s 1.2 GHz Power PC . Averatec is simply more brisk. The screen quality is far superior on 3250 than IBook. The screen resolution is pretty much the same, at 1024 X 768, though I think Averatec has better graphics chip or at least that’s what it looks to me. I think these add up to about two points in favor of 3250. So far, Averatec has 5 points, to IBook’s 1.5 points. Apple’s OS-X gets 1.5 points, while its virus free and ease of use features merit another point. (Chris Holland explains the rationale behind this!) All told, Apple IBook walks away with 4 points. I am going to deduct half a point for Windows XP, and that would give Averatec 3250 4.5 points. Yup, that’s correct folks, Averatec wins this one, and if I had to buy someone a computer, 3250 would be my bet.
(PS: At higher price points, IMAC and Powerbook 15 inch win hands down against any Windows XP computer when it comes to value for money, and lifelong happiness.)

59 Comments

wellImnotsosure

Are you drawing these comparisons from actual use?

The spec says “up to 512Mb”, which is not actually that good. The iBook can manage MUCH more RAM. The spec on the video card is very vague. Usually means nothing to crow about.

It also can’t run OS X, which for me is the deal breaker. Good to see PC makers trying though.

chris holland

wooohoo thanks for the link Om :D

Man, i guess we *are* quite a few mac users reading your blog huh! have you ever ran some site stats on your blog ? browsers? OSes ?

Jim

Apple’s included software bundle is superior — and certainly worth a point or two if this is a low-end laptop purchase for family or friends. The iApps + Appleworks + Quicken covers a lot of ground…

workoutmn

First, the graphics chip on the Averatec is an S3, which is pathetic to say the least — think ATI Rage 64-level — maybe 128, if you’re lucky. Definitely no Radeon, and only dreams of anywhere near Radeon 9200 performance. Second, there’s XP Home operating system. Equivalence to OS X would have to be XP Pro, so another $100. Then, there’s the Athlon which, bare-bones, may be faster than a 1.2ghz G4, but when you figure that with a Windows OS it constantly has to run antivirus software which easily saps about 10-15% of a processor’s performance — almost 50% when doing a lot of file reading/writing — and then how easy it is for spyware to infect and the draw on the processor that has, any performance advantage the Athlon has is minimal. Now true, you can’t yet get a DVD burner in the 12″ iBook, even CTO, which I think is a huge mistake. In any case, you should consider these things in your point system.

Tom

Consider a Pair of jeans

at the GAP: $29
at Levi’s: $39
at Zegna: $229
at Armani: $299

So the GAP jeans wins out in your opinion.

Hugo Ley

3 usb ports in the averatec vs 2 usb + 1 fire wire port in iBook = 1.5 points for iBook and 1 point for averatec (better all around functionality).

Looks: agree the averatec is not hideous, but equal to the iBook? No way. The clean modern looks of the iBook; its hinge design and slot loading CD is so much superior and aesthetically pleasant than the averatec. Add 1 point to the iBook (I do like to look cool while at the airport you know).

Let’s say I agree with you about performance and everything else, and I come up with 5.5 points for the iBook vs 4.5 for the averatec.

Yup, that’s correct folks; iBook wins this one, hands down.

The bottom line: I am still going to be more productive, worry free, happier, and much cooler by carrying an iBook than the Averatec. And good Lord, who wants to own a computer named Averatec anyway? Subtract an additional .5 from the Averatec.

Richard Taylor

All very subjective, don’t you think?

Mac users (yourself excluded) buy Macs not for the hardware, but for the Mac’s proprietary software, its operating system. You may give it one point, or two, or five hundred, as you wish. Personally, I wouldn’t touch XP for all the chips in Asia because of all the inherent problems with it. For me, not points, but trump suit. Get the Mac.

Richard Taylor

No

You are guessing at the video card. Does it have firewire? Does it have any DVD creation software?

Clue yourself in, this is a worthless comparison.

RTMac

I just got back from the Averatec Web site, and it shows all configurations of the 3200 with a 40 gig hard drive. Given you report that it has a 60 gig, I think you need to deduct at least a half a point from the Averatec rating.

That leaves them tied at 4 points each.

Kent Myhre

You could own a 250,000 Maserati. But if the only gas (XP) you could put in it was putting the Maserati in the shop every two weeks then you have in effect nothing.

shaitan

Some averatec parts are crap. The fan quicky became an annoyance. It nows sounds like its going to fall apart especially at startup when i runs full blast before software takes over the speed control. It runs too hot to use on your lap. In all it feels cheap and is cheap! I personally don’t think the LCD screen appears any better and appears more washed out to me beacause of WinXP’s gamma setting.

Michael

Your rating system is seriously flawed in giving an equal bonus to Averatec for a third USB port as it does for Apple having built-in Firewire. We know what happens when multiple USB devices are plugged into one bus, and it is just not true that ANY third USB port is equivalent to the first two except in an external powered hub. We also know what happens when mutliple USB devices stream data on the bus speed. This third USB port is no where near the capability that a seperate Firewire bus offers in expansion, connectability, or performance. At most a third USB port would be worthy of a fraction of a point. Whereas the Firewire port is easily worth one point at the minimumm, and more for many users. The other items that your weighting ignored is the tremendous software suite that ships with the iBook, allowing true working functionality right out of the box. Then your review also left out something that would be of supreme importance for a price sensitive shopper, and that is the estimated lifespan and the resale value after 18-24 months of use. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern how Apple fulfills substantially more in these areas (vist eBay and see for yourself). For a PC, I would agree that the Averatec is a decent buy, but I don’t see why would you recommend it as a purchase against an iBook that had higher resale, more external buses and expansion capability, more software, the easiest updating system of any OS, higher reliability (according to Consumer Reports), and higher levels of owner satisfaction than comparable units.

John S

Makes sense. But whatever, Om — buy someone a WinTel machine and they won’t be your friend for long. The $999 iBook is the best deal going. I bought the same machine for $1200 (including AExp card and Ram upgrade) four months ago and couldn’t be happier. You can’t really compare an OS X box to an XP box. It’s like comparing Apples and dried up, rotten, bad-tasting Oranges :-)

Larry

I wish I had a nickel for every meeting I sat in where 80% of the laptops in the room were Powerbooks and the only people who couldn’t connect to the WIFI network were using Windows. I would give Averatec -1 for Windows wireless.

Will

So what’s the OS worth? The lack of virus’? I say the Mac wins – easily.

Bob Teeter

Unfortunately, you have to run Windows on it, and that makes any other comparison points moot.

ben

If you gave a point for iLife then the iBook would win, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable for what you get.

david

Interesting way to judge a computer. Seems to me the best way to judge a computer is on software availability, usability, and value.

On software the iBook is equal to any XP based notebook for some users, comes out ahead for others, and doesn’t make the cut for others. Since we are talking bargain priced notebooks here I think we can assume home users and students so the iBook and your PC notebook should be just about even.

On usability the XP just doesn’t match OS X. Windows gets in the way of my work while OS X is there letting me get my work done without making a big deal about it. With Windows I have my monthly (and oftener) updates that scare me. Each update I know can turn my computer into an expensive paperweight but I’m even more afraid not to install it. Of course there are virus worries and spywear worries. Any way you look at it OS X is way out in front of Windows. And let’s not forget that the next OS upgrade for the Mac is coming within about 9 months while Windows keeps getting pushed back. No, I don’t believe Microsoft will make its latest release date either.

Finally, value. Do I believe this PC notebook will stand the test of time? We have an original iBook running Panther here at the house and while slow to boot it is quite usable. I have every reason to believe the current crop of iBooks will have similar long lives. I have no such belief about this PC notebook. When I factor in the costs of extras like virus protection, my personal costs lost to the machine’s downtimes…Again the iBook comes out on top.

You give this PC notebook the edge? I give it the bum’s rush. The iBook is the clear winner.

CCRider

But it runs Windows! That is the biggest fault of all. Who cares if the specs are a little less and the weight is a little greater. At the end of the day, all that really does not matter. Getting work done and the overall user experience, IMHO, is much better on an iBook. And kudos to Apple for finally selling a light, wireless laptop that runs a fast, modern, virus-free, spyware-free OS available for less than a grand.

dave rogers

I don’t understand the reference to the better graphics chip, the specs sheet in the product tour for the Averatec indicates it’s an S3 Unichrome and I don’t know anything about that chip. Most of these spec sheets normally indicate how much memory is dedicated to the graphics processor, and whether or not it is shared with the motherboard RAM. I’m going to guess the S3 uses shared memory, which would give something of an advantage to the iBook with 32MB of dedicated VRAM with its ATI 9200 processor.

Also, according to the spec sheet, RAM is UP TO 512MB. The iBook is UP TO 1.25 GB.

On the other hand, the Averatec has a PCMCIA slot, which is probably a point in its favor.

Averatec reports the battery is rated for 3hrs, my experience with my iBook G4 has demonstrated 4+ hours web browsing and light spreadsheet and word processing. So, depending on how you weight battery life, some advantage to the iBook.

I’ve seen an Averatec in the store, and it looks like a nice piece of gear, but take a close look at the right side of the lid hinge, it looks like a potential early failure point to me. Screen display did not appear superior in any way to the iBook, they’re both nice, bright, active-matrix LCD dispays.

Averatec offers an audio-in port, which the iBook lacks; but the iBook offers a built-in mic, which the Averatec lacks.

Averatec’s optical drive is tray-loading versus slot-loading for the iBook. Probably not a significant feature difference apart from a certain “cool” factor to slot-loading, which is offset by the fact that you can’t use mini-CDs or the oddly shaped ones.

In the final analysis, I’d say they’re fairly closely matched and it’s mostly a question of whether one prefers to use the Windows platform, or the Mac OS X platform.

Sorry for the large block of text. I can’t seem to figure out how to insert paragraph breaks.

Om

Stooped! Ouch that hurt. I am sorry if that’s the way you see it. Anyway I like the price comp. I am sure we all will agree to disagree on this one.

Anonymous Coward

Om, I can’t believe you stooped to this.

Quick, someone mention iLife before the Torvalds wannabes flood in.

Om

Hey chris added yourlink. Sorry to hear that you had those problems with Averatec. I guess I did not have problems. Having said that, seems like you all missed my point on this one. I am trying to say here is that if you are going to play the budget game, then play the game well, which apple is not doing with this low end PC. I think they should try and pack in more memory and hard drive, if they want to one-up the compeittion and win totally on price, which unfortunately is a big factor when people buy these devices

Christian Gloddy

Every manufacturer certainly has it’s share of problems (chris, I’m about to get my dots fixed too), but some have a good deal more than others in the percentage of machines needing repair. I wasn’t really stating an opinion so much as citing the positive numbers Apple generally gets in these data roundups when compared to Dell, HP and others. That said, I have yet to see Averatec included in one of these roundups.

Rafat

Om, I bought an Averatec 6100 last week, from Amazon, and returned it the next day…the litany of problems is long..nothing very najor, but small things adeed up to a lot. i’m used to Thinkpad environs, so maybe i’m spoilt in terms of reliability…
Problems: too much noise, flimsy case, they forgot to pack a manual (!), the touchpad is very sensitive..too much; etc..
They still have a long way to go…

chris holland

Keeping in mind i’m a total Apple wh0re, i’d still like to point out:

– for an extra $50, you can have your $999 iBook shipped with an internal bluetooth module. Add many many points for iSync, which comes with OS X, and is invaluable to anybody who wants to be organized. You have to purchase that separately on Windows.

– i’d remove many more points for WinXP. But that’s just me, as I have quite a few technical and philosophical gripes about WinXP. Service Pack 2 is trying to go back and plug some security holes, but many users have had issues with it.

I’ve used windows quite extensively up to Win2K. My experience with XP is largely sporadic. I’ve also helped my GF install and configure a wireless card on her work XP laptop. Networking and device configuration in XP is messy.

I could go on forever.

On the other hand, I’ve heard PC users mention that the overall UI feels snappier on a PC, until non-trivial multi tasking gets in the picture. Is that your experience, Om? I’ve always pushed my machines really hard so i’ve learned to be generally numb about these things.

Om

and apple doesn’t have its litany of problems. come on! are you an averatec user?

Christian Gloddy

How about factoring in some points for the percentage of machines that have to be returned or repaired over the first year of ownership? Apple comes out on top consistently in Consumer Reports data on this very issue. Where would Averatec end up?

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