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Apple's new notebooks: not necessarily for bargain hunters

One thing Apple didn't address with the conversion to Intel processors is the price.

One thing Apple Computer didn't address with the conversion to Intel processors is the price. Apple's products still carry a sizable premium, at least according to an early comparison with Gateway machines.

The low-end MacBook Pro, for instance, sells for $1,999. It comes with a 1.67GHz dual core processor, a high-resolution 15.4-inch screen, an ATI graphics chip, an 80GB drive, a DVD/CD burner and 512MB of memory.

If you configure a Gateway S-7510 to nearly the same specs, the price comes to $1,524. You can also knock down the features a bit--lower the resolution on the screen, use an integrated graphics chip, roll back a bit on the hard drive--to drop the price to $1,149. That's $475 to $850 less, depending on what you buy.

Historically, Apple has generally maintained a $300 price premium.

The Apple notebook weighs 5.6 pounds while Gateway's weighs 6.1 pounds. A Gateway notebook also doesn't make a lifestyle statement. And of course the software is different. The two, though, remain close competitors in the U.S. market. (In the third quarter, Gateway grew shipments by 35.2 percent and saw its market share rise from 5.2 percent to 6.4 percent while Apple grew shipments by 44.6 percent to rise from 3.3 percent to 4.3 percent of the U.S. market.

Many companies have not priced their Intel Core Duo notebooks yet, so full comparisons have yet to be made.

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