Continuing from Part 1 ...
One of the questions that arose from the Part 1 post was how we arrived at the $2100 figure. It actually ended up being $2300. This amount would cover the purchase of a 15" macbook pro with 4GB ram, 7200rpm 750GB drive, 3yr applecare, and extra power adapter (for home), which at the time totalled $2300. While we would actually recommend the 13" air to end users, we knew some would want/need a larger screen so we made sure to accomodate a need for a 15" mac laptop. Our 13" air config included 4GB ram, 256GB SSD, 3yr applecare, extra power adapter, external super drive (if needed) and rounded up to $1800...another reason we pushed the air over mbp :-) Again, anything beyond $2300 and another dept would have to pick up the overage. We had a few staff that went a little over due to job role needing the highest proc and additional ram (which we buy from OWC and install ourselves) or opting for the 17" macbookpro, but the majority of staff have went with the 13" air.
Today we still recommend and default to the 13" air for our staff. We've bumped the ram up to 8GB on the standard i5 model which is still under $1800 ($1720) with our config. AND today we'd also recommend the 13" retina macbook pro ... with our config it comes to $1904. I used a macbook air for about 2 years and even ran some Fusion win7 vm's on
it. With 4GB ram it was tight running VM's on it, the 8GB air I tested handled VM's much better. I figured if an air worked great for me, it should work well for the
majority of our staff :-)
I switched to a 13" retina macbookpro in Feburary for testing and have REALLY liked the increased screen real estate over the air. It's a tad heavier and gets warmer, but I'll take that for the extra pixels. I should also note that while at work I jack into a 27" apple display. So yes, the air and 13" macbookpro can drive a 27" display with no problems.
Another thing we've discovered over the past 2 years ... spinning hard drives and macbooks don't do well together...even 7200rpm drives give way more spinning beach balls than they should and don't even bother with the 5400rpm drives. We have had good success by upgrading 15" macbookpros with 750GB hybrid drives, but we strongly recommend going SSD on new mac purchases.
We usually buy our macs/apple gear from our local apple store where they match WCA's discounted Apple pricing which is roughly 10% on most items. Having their store 1 mile from GCC is a VERY nice plus! It took some work to create a good relationship with the local store business team, but today they really seem to go to bat for us. We've also had success getting even better pricing on large volume purchases from ITSavvy, mostly due to their ability to heavily discount applecare. Another option is buying refurb gear from Apple. We've gotten several refurb 13" airs for $900-1200 and had no problems with them. I know some churches get their Apple gear from CDW as well.
What do we do when a user wants a windows laptop? So far it's been rare, but it has happened. For instance one of our graphics arts designers is a windows power user and she had no interest in switching to a mac. No problem! Except we did have a problem ... what to recommend to her. The Dell Latitude lineup at that time was franky quite ugly. True, being ugly shouldn't dismiss a technology decision, but that goofy orange on the Latitudes was bleh! After much looking around and stalling our recommendation, Dell introduced their "air" competitor in the XPS13. It was sexy looking and had very similar specs to our 13" air config...except for a lamer rez screen. Probably the biggest disappointment was that this Dell was MORE than our air config coming out to $1967+shipping! Here's the invoice :-) But, as you can see, we did purchase it and she's been very happy with the XPS13 and that's a win.
We've still not landed on what I'd call the perfect PC version of the air. We thought the nicely priced $800 14" Vizio ultrabook would be a win, but the keyboard on it stinks. We had a couple staff test it and all of them turned it back in saying the keyboard was a deal breaker. Rats! We still have a couple more ultrabook options we'd like to try ... and we need hurry up as we have a couple users on the refresh list this year that have already requested to stay PC vs switch to mac. We've also had a couple staff test windows8...so far nobody liked it, and my personal experience with it was pretty frustrating as well. This stinks since many of the newest ultrabooks have no option for coming with win7 vs win8 installed.
[edit 4/16/13: Just ordered a refurb Dell 6430u. Hope it works well in testing]
I didn't mean this next blog post to be all about the hardware costs, but that's how it turned out. Hope it was helpful :-)
I'll get back to the transition process in Part 3 ...