I used to tell people they had to budget for a memory upgrade whenever they bought a new Mac. But that requirement is no longer as critical, except for the professional models, where the more RAM the better. In upgrading the Mac mini, the major change is an increase to 512MB of RAM, standard. The end result is that you end up paying from $50 to $75 less for a complete system, even though the list prices are unchanged. Although AirPort Express and Bluetooth are installed on all but the basic $499 model, Apple has removed the standard V.92 modem in the process. So if you require a dial-up connection to get online, and you want either of the two top-of-the-line versions, you’ll have to place a custom order and pay $29 extra. Otherwise stick with the entry-level. I suppose Apple feels that if you want AirPort, you don’t need dial-up. The iBook also came in for a modest update. The low-end version, with the 12.1-inch screen, remains $999, but now sports 512MB of RAM, standard. For just $300 more, you get the 14.1-inch version, complete with SuperDrive. Despite those rumors you may have read, there are no widescreens in the present lineup. And, yes, they both include standard V.92 modems and inherit the motion sensor and advanced trackpad features from the PowerBook. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, with Dell note-books as cheap as $599, you’ll still have to make excuses to show that the iBook remains a better value, when you equip both with a similar range of options. In all fairness to Apple, the standard Dell Inspiron 2200 doesn’t come with a backup disk, includes a basic warranty of 90 days, and doesn’t have even a basic digital lifestyle application suite. But folks who buy computers on price alone may not realize something is missing until it’s too late.
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