The Apple iMac vs. Windows PC cable mess: what’s real?

There is an amusing image on Apple’s web site that compares the cable mess that apparently doesn’t burden the new Apple imac as compared with the Dell XPS 410.

iMac vs. Dell

OK, for a second, dispell belief.

The Mac has a single cable coming from it, assuming that there is no wired Ethernet connection or USB peripherals, such as a printer. (Yes, I know… wireless network connections are available, but I also have a wireless 802.11G on our new HP Slimline PC and notebooks, so let’s just assume an Apples to apples comparson. 😉 That’s two cables. It has a built-in camera, my PCs do not (although more popular these days on many notebook and mobile PCs). The iMac does not have a series of memory card slots to allow me to move files from SD cards, so add a cable for the multi-card adapter.

That’s three additional cables. And I’m not sure what that thing is on top of the Dell.

Granted, a lot of the cable savings on the iMac come from the daisy-chained mouse and keyboard, integrated camera and speakers. I have some of the same savings as I have a Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 installed and a Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000. And if you’ve read previous posts, you’ll know that I have nothing against the Mac or Apple, having spent the bulk of my career using Macs (1984 through 1998) as well as PCs (really post Windows 95). 

If you took Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s WayBack machine to 2003, you’ll see a PC prototype, co-developed with HP and codenamed “Athens,” that mergedvoice, video and text messaging. (Also see this story on the Athens PC on CNET News and this previous post.)

Look familiar? 

Heck, Athens even had an integrated phone, something I would like for my desk as I have a home office Polycom desk phone at home. Sure, it would be nice to have the camera in the LCD monitor bezel, but the one on Athens was adjustable, which is what I like about the LifeCam on my PC today: I can move it to suit my needs.Sony VAIO VGC-LS25E PC

Having said all that, where are the cool PCs?

Some of the new crop of Windows Vista PCs are shown on the Windows Marketplace site here, including the Dell XPS M2010, HP’s TouchSmart IQ770 and the Sony VAIO VGC-LS25E (as well as the range of Sony all-in-one PCs). Design-wise and of these PCs, the HP and the Sony all-in-one VAIO are on the short list for my new office computer, given recent price drops.

And fewer cables.

If you’re looking at comparable cable connections, then I’d look more at the Mac mini or the Mac Pro tower. Then I expect to see a similar amount of spaghetti wire behind the hardware. 

An additional thought: a Dell XPS 410 is less than $1,100 for a 20-inch Flat Panel Monitor, Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6600 (4MB L2 Cache,2.4GHz,1066 FSB), 2GB of memory and a 320GB5 Serial ATA hard drive. For the same price (actually, $100 more) you get an iMac with a 20″ 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, half the memory (1GB), and a smaller hard drive (250GB hard drive).

A close to comparable iMac is almost 50% more: the next model up is $1,499 for a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, still 1GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. There is a more robust graphics card in the 256MB memory ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO.

For that amount, the HP and Sony models below are comparably priced after some of the current discounts I’ve seen.

20 replies on “The Apple iMac vs. Windows PC cable mess: what’s real?”

Even though several pc companies have been copying Apple’s all-in-one setup, none, absolutely none have bettered it!

As for being competitively priced to the new iMacs they are not. The reason is  simple: The iMac runs more software! That’s right! The age old bragging from PCer’s is no longer true…. PC’s can only run Windows and Linux… none can offer OS X!

As far as I’m concerned it is OS X and all of the many thousands upon thousands of unique programs that are only Mac specific like iWork, Quick Silver, etc. is what macs the new iMacs the better deal.

The Mac does not need a card reader. Any camera I’ve tested, and I’ve tested a lot of cameras, plugs directly into USB 2 and downloads to iPhoto automatically, no drivers needed.

The iMac has an optional wireless keyboard and mouse. With Airport Extreme, the iMac can have wireless internet access. It can also have wireless, networked printers and external hard drives attached to Airport Extreme.

You only need a power cord. The iMac photo is not misleading.

This image was used (at least originally) to compare all-in-one computers versus separates in the consumer space.  Clearly they chose a worst-case (though real) example of separates.

Looking carefully at the picture, it doesn’t look like they added ethernet or USB cables to the Dell, so it’s not really a valid point that’s it’s missing from the iMac. (I think the thing on top of the Dell might be an IR remote control receiver, since one is build in on the iMac.)

As far as the Mac Pro tower or the Mac mini go, if you used an Apple display you would still only have one cable leaving your desktop, as Apple displays contain USB and FireWire ports, and one cable carries the power, DVI, USB, and FireWire.  (The tower doesn’t have the IR receiver built in, though, so that would have to be added to make a fair comparison.)

FYI, you mention the daisy chaining of the mouse off the keyboard.  DId you know that Apple has been doing that since 1986?  And obviously Apple has been doing the all-in-one design since the original 1984 Mac.  So at the least they are conveying a consistent message. 😉



And if you get the iMac with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you  have a WiFi router and Bluetooth or WiFi printer, the iMac will have only a power cord. My printer has card slots for digital cameras built in and I can bring them into iPhoto from there, or I can simply plug the camera into the computer with its USB cable, then take it out and put it away.

I agree, Don: the elegant design of Apple’s all-in-ones is very slick. There’s often a question of which company copied what, but Apple’s new iMacs are elegant, as is (IMHO) the new Sony VAIO PCs.

As for running SW, yes, which is great to be able to run OSX along side Windows XP or Vista on a single box, the hardware interface issues not withstanding. Also many interesting threads on running OSX on PC hardware…

Thanks for the comment, SalHepatica. I also like the idea of accessing card slots for digital cameras from an all-in-one printer that has available slots.

Thanks for your comments, Al. For my cameras, I’ve found that I usually take more than a single SD card worth of photos, and often come back with a couple to download to the computer: having the SD card slot is helpful.

And as for my printers at home, none of which are wireless, I need a wired connection. And as for wireless net access, I have both at home and enjoy having wired and wireless for differnt applications.

And you’re right: if you already have or buy new (or optional) hardware that is either BlueTooth or wireless ready, you only need a power cord.

Unless you don’t: then you’ll have a few cables. 😉

I appreciate the post, Mark. I understand that it represents a worst-case scenario. I don’t see an Ethernet cable connection on the Dell, but it’s hard to tell. (Note: our HP slimline has wirless, so no cable is required there.)

And thanks for the info on the Apple display single cable for power and other connections, which would all then connect to the monitor (USB and FireWire).  

As for daisy chaining the mouse off the keyboard, yep, I’m aware being the happy owner of several Macs (my first computer was a Mac 128K).  I’m not a PC bigot by any means… just the point that I’ve had similar cable mess behind my Quadras, Mac SEs and PowerMacs. I just believe that a more accurate comparison would be with  similarly priced all-in-one PDC such as the ones I mentioned in the post.

Maybe Apple should have gone after the fact that the iMac weighs less, takes up less space or is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than that PC.  That would be an easy win.  Not that any of that nonsense sells computers.  Most people only want to know how cheaply you can buy it for.

Good points, Odo. Price was a factor when considering our latest PC, but aesthetics are important, too. Apple certainly knows that angle cold.

I especially like the far superior microsoft software that comes with the Dell as compared to what comes with the iMac!

You say you need a wired connection for your printer, mthree, but if you’re buy an airport extreme base-station, not only do you have 802.11n bandwidth for your internet access (which includes gigabit ethernet now), but also USB printing. All of it wireless from the built-in airport card.

Just saying.

You’re right, DL… and you would get the same benefit with the new 802.11 wireless printers from companies like HP.

those computers compared above like the dell xps410 etc. you said were cheaper. Are they really? do you get full programs with them….my experience is you dont and you need to pay more for the full version and get programs to run programs, and they dont have the same  quality guts in the inside or are missing bits for you to upgrade (ex.wireless gear). As for the clutter you see in the photos which I think is a good example between your everyday run in the mill pc and an imac runs true.

I agree, AS… what you see in the photo is more representative of standard PCs (‘though the cabling in several systems I have is much neater) and shown from a dramatic perspective.

As for the computers I noted above, several comparable models are either similarly priced or — as in the case from the sales I found this weekend and online — the AIO (All-In-One) PCs from HP and Sony models were actually cheaper. Often bundled with apps at retail, or available at a discount when you purchase them installed (as is the case with BTO systems from Dell, HP).

The AIOs mentioned above are similarly configured, and include reasonable graphics capabilities, wireless and expansion ports(1394, multiple USB2, extra slots).

But few are as sleek as the new iMac… the Sony and HP, IMHO, come closest.

PC is a berter way to go. So what if there are extra cords and it takes up more room. The pors about a PC is that has a great easy web surfing experience.second it there are more software verity’s out there so you will have a great choice of different software titles.Third price PC are alot cheaper the mac I got new my hp desktop a6150e      fully lotted for only  around $900

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