A quick post to provide some pricing perspective on Windows vs. Mac PCs, as we look to the upcoming back to school sales.

Last week, Joe Wilcox posted a piece on Microsoft Watch noting that the regarding pricing on Vista PCs "These Prices Are Insane!"...

"Nearly half of retail Windows PCs now pack 3GB of RAM. Manufacturers are bulking up features as average selling prices stabilize. Next trend: 64-bit Vista and 4GB RAM. Editor's Note: This is a companion to another post at Apple Watch telling a different story from the same NPD data. Please read that piece, too, and read how Mac average selling prices are at least twice those of Windows computers.]

In the article, Joe looks at the technical comparisons between similarly configured Macintosh Windows PCs after seeing a couple of notebooks on sale at a local big box store. He said that a Windows PC offered more memory and hard disc space that that found in a MacBook at nearly twice the street cost, so he did a little research to compare the costs...

"Today I contacted Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, about computer average selling prices at retail. That HP notebook is right on mark: ASP for retail Windows notebooks is $700. Mac laptops: $1,515. Yeah, right, they're more than twice as much. But there's more: The ASP for Mac desktops is more than $1,000 greater than for Windows PCs, and Mac desktop ASPs were higher in June than they were two years ago.

Joe further said that he found...

"Vista-to-Mac notebook comparisons to be quite surprising. Here's how the midrange MacBook and HP DV2946NR compare, based on Apple Store and Target pricing:

"MacBook: $1,299; 2.4GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 13.3-inch display, 2GB memory, Intel GMA X3100 graphics with 144MB shared memory, 160GB hard drive, 8x double-layer DVD burner, Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11g Wi-Fi, Webcam and Mac OS X 10.5.

"HP DV2946NR: $699.99, at some Target stores; 2GHz Intel Centrino (Core 2 Duo T5750); 4GB memory (but capped at 3GB by OS); Intel GMA X3100 graphics with 356MB shared memory, 320GB hard drive, 8x double-layer DVD burner (with LightScribe), 802.11g Wi-Fi, Webcam and Windows Vista Home Premium Service Pack 1 64-bit."

"Which would you choose? The HP has more graphics memory, twice the system memory and twice the hard drive capacity, but the Apple has a faster Intel processor. The Pavilion laptop offers more for less than the MacBook. But that "more" also means Windows Vista, which won't satisfy some shoppers.

Or will it?

I won't try to sell anyone on Vista if they are predisposed to buy a Mac for whatever reasons.  If you haven't made up your mind, I do suggest that you look at both, and buy the one that's right for you.  You may just find that you get more PC for your money than ever before: of particular interest in our house is the new HP TouchSmart IQ506 which is quite nice, has very good specs and can be found at a broad range of retail and etail stores.  With an Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of memory, 500 GB, a 22 inch touch screen, TV tuner and more, I found that the configuration is about $400-500 less expensive than a similarly configured iMac 20-inch (SRP online of $1,749.00 with 4GB or memory and 500GB HDD).

Whatever your choice, be sure to also look for the best deals.  We found that by using http://cashback.live.com we were able to save nearly an additional 15 percent via one of the name brand, brick-and-mortar etailers listed on the site on the purchase of a new PC for a member of the family.  This was in addition to the discounted price on the etailer's site.

Tags: Apple, iMac, Microsoft, Vista, Windows.