Apple unveiled the new
iBook, the first major redesign of its new consumer laptop, last week. For average Joes, the fully loaded iBook configuration starts at US$1,299 and tops out at $1,799 (educators get a discount).
MacCentral reader Eric Welch notes that NEC just unveiled a new line of diminutive laptops this week, as well — it’s pitching the new
model at executives. It has to, because prices start at almost $2,800 — more than twice what an iBook will set you back, and considerably more than a low end PowerBook G4, too. That’s a picture of it up there, in case you were wondering.
Now, to be fair, the Versa TXi has a few specs that the iBook doesn’t — a removable media bay, for example, and a 20GB hard drive. The Versa TXi is about a pound lighter, too — though the weight goes up once you’ve got it bulked up with an optical drive. It also uses a Pentium processor that clocks in at 750MHz — half again as fast as the PowerPC chip in the iBook, though many Mac enthusiasts (and Steve Jobs himself) will argue ’til they’re blue in face about whether or not that makes the Versa TXi faster or slower than the iBook in real-world performance for applications commonly used on the Mac.
But the Versa TXi also sports many of the same features found on Apple’s new low-cost laptop, including a 12.1 inch display with 1024×768 resolution; 256KB of Level 2 cache; IEEE 1394 (FireWire) and USB; 2x AGP; 10/100baseT Ethernet; 56K modem; video out; and more. NEC offers the same optical drive choices as the iBook as well — the NEC notebook equipped with a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo will set you back $3,400 or so, compared with $1,799 for a similarly equipped iBook.
In fact, there are a few spots where the iBook even comes out ahead — The iBook sports a zippy RAGE Mobility 128 graphics chip, while the Versa TXi features the slower RAGE Mobility M1. NEC says the Versa TXi can only handle 320MB of RAM, for example, while Apple says the iBook can handle up to 640MB. Even though it comes equipped with PC card slots, the Versa TXi doesn’t have a built in antenna for wireless networking, either. And somehow, we doubt it’s as durable and rugged as the iBook, either. The Versa TXi uses silver magnesium casing, according to NEC — the iBook uses impact-resistant polycarbonate plastic.
Oh, and if you want to run Windows apps on your iBook, just grab a copy of VirtualPC from Connectix. And if you want to run Mac apps on your Versa TXi, well …
When you consider that you can buy two base-model iBooks for what one base-model Versa TXi costs and still have enough left over to equip both iBooks with AirPort cards, that’s a pretty darn good value.