Here's another long-winded opinion from Ken's world of personal computers. To my simplistic way of looking at it, there are only two kinds of computers. I will define these as Proprietary and Clone. So, why would you care? Let's look at the differences. Proprietary These systems are designed to be mass produced and assembled cheaply. Some examples of name brands following this concept are IBM, Compaq, HP, (See Compaq), Gateway and Dell. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each design. Since the overall cost can be held down by the design and manufacture, these systems generally sell for less. They are not customizable other than the amount of RAM the CPU speed, the CDROM/DVD/burner options and the hard drive size. For most people, this is fine. However, this limits the choices the owner has and also makes it difficult to take advantage of the newer technology as it is introduced. Since the power supply and the motherboard are "proprietary" they can only be replaced with the exact same part from the same manufacturer. Once you are out of warranty, you will pay dearly for any replacement part you might need. Gateway (a few years ago) tried to charge me $119 plus shipping for a power supply which should have cost me $25 delivered. I politely declined and bought the customer a new case, power supply and motherboard. I stripped the useable components out, built the parts into the new case and I believe the old Gateway shell is currently being used as a birdhouse (probably the finest use of a Gateway to date!) Clone Years ago, these were called IBM compatible. Now, IBM is no longer IBM compatible! The idea is that every PC built would use standard sized components which would be interchangeable. To that end, all motherboards, power supplies and every other part could be swapped out at your whim. Why is this good? Well, this allows the gamer to build a system which has the best components suited for gaming (great video and sound cards, for example) while the same "box" can be built with onboard video and sound for a business class system or for surfing and emailing. Since all the parts are interchangeable and it is easy to get replacement parts should something break, keeping these machines running after the warranty is up is cheap. Up to this point, all things considered, everything is pretty much equal. So, why do I think one is better than the other? Check this out. To simplify the example, we will make a few assumptions. We will assume the price of an entry level computer system is $1,000 and that both computer systems are the same. (This is not true but it makes things easier to compare). Let's talk proprietary first. I buy myself a brand new Hewlett-Packard-Bell for $1,000. I ignore the extended warranty and plan on getting three years reliable use from this thing. My wife, being smarter than I buys a clone for $1,000 and expects to get three years use also. Each year, my wife decides she will spend $200 in upgrades to keep her computer current. After the first year, she yanks out the motherboard, the CPU and RAM and sells it on Ebay for $100. She then adds $200 (her upgrade budget for this year) and spends $300 on a much faster processor and twice as much RAM. The Hewlett-Packard-Bell stays the same but I am $200 richer. At the start of year three my wife decides to upgrade again. This time she yanks out her video card and hard drive and sells them on Ebay for $100. She then takes the $100 and adds it to her $200 upgrade budget and gets a huge hard drive and a killer video card. My system is looking a little slow but still functions and I decide to gloat over the fact I am $400 richer now than my wife. At the end of year three, I need a new computer. I will be spending another $1,000 while my wife will again be spending her $200 for upgrades. Currently, I have spent $2,000 to keep my system which was really old and slow for the last year of it's life while my wife has spent $1,600 and enjoyed yearly upgrades to her system keeping all the expensive parts under warranty. It is true, she invested time (which has a cost) but I think you'll agree it was worth it. Now, there's a couple of things I left out of this equation. First, my three year old system still has a value. Considering I don't want to have to warranty it, we'll sell it for $200 and be done with it. This narrows the gap. Also, no failures developed during the three years which depending on which part went could really alter the total cost of ownership. Even more important, what happens if you get a "dog" (after all every manufacturer has their own Chevrolet Vega in their closet). With the clone, we replace the offending part and be done with it. With a proprietary system you will be treated to hours of mind numbing muzak and untrained idiots reading from a script. Good luck! <small>Hey, don't forget, this is just my opinion. I don't know everything but I'm not bashful about expressing it. Please consider anything read above to be my opinion and that I don't know anything at all and probably shouldn't even be allowed to have an opinion. Hell, I'm not sure I know what I'm talking about and there are times when I wouldn't take may own advice.