I saw that article and took the "test." I picked out the Strad right away - the performer couldn't make the lower passages on the G string sound as consistent and strong. I doubt they had many classically trained violinists listen to the excerpts (a bassoonist or percussionist probably doesn't spend much time listening to solo violin music.) I'm sure not all strads are up to the same quality, but there are real reasons Strads and Guaneri violins are in such demand - not just because they're not being replaced, and not just because of the prestige.
Although I'm not a violinist, what I've been told by classical violinists who've had the opportunity to play a strad: it's hard to make a bad sound on the instrument - tone production is easier.
Believe it or not, a lower quality instrument (violin or otherwise) may not suitable for playing certain pieces. Violins and pianos are great examples of this. I overheard a couple of violinists playing the opening page of the Scherzo from Schumann's second symphony (recording
and sheet music
). Both violinists played it on a $30k violin and $40k violin. Neither was able to get the passage clear (at full tempo) on the $30k violin, but both could play it easily on the $40k violin. Both violinists were conservatory trained and about equal skill level.
That's not to say that instruments are all priced perfectly, but there is something to higher quality instruments being easier to play. Who knows about the luthiers of today? I certainly hope some are producing the strads of tomorrow, but it might not be clear for a century or two.
Given the choice, do you think the average developer would rather work on a netbook or a high end laptop? Both could probably get the job done, but compiling would take longer and everything else would likely take longer.