Looking to buy but never had a mac - advice please

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by kjoy, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. kjoy macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    Hey all -

    I'm looking to buy a Mac, but I'm unsure of what my purchase needs to be. I appreciate your input. I'm coming from the Windows world, so bear with me...

    Originally, I was debating between the MB and the MBP. But, because of lack of Firewire and ExpressCard, i'm pretty sure on the MBP. I am looking to do some video editing, photos, some kids games, music and web development. Also, school papers and the like.

    My other question is the MacRumors buying guide. It states to only buy if you really need it. It looks like Apple may be releasing the next gens within the next 30 days or so. Am I better of waiting? Does Apple have any sort of guarantee if you buy a laptop and they release a new one like a week later? How about OSX? What version are they currently at and is there a new one coming out soon?

    Also, is it better to load up the memory and hard drive from Apple or is better to order it with the minimum and do 3rd party upgrades? I don't want to upgrade much - mainly just to the 4GB RAM and possibly a bigger HD. 250 should be sufficient but you never know...

    Finally, what is everyone's take on the Apple Service plan? Is it worth the money?!

    I appreciate your comments! Lookin' forward to joining the club!
  2. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    If you don't really need it now, probably is better for you to wait a little bit.
    Current MacOS X is known as Leopard, and the next version SnowLeopard that is supposed to be more efficient and take better advantage of the multicore processors will be out sometime during this year. If you buy your Mac now, you will get Leopard, and if you wait until Snow Leopard is out, you will get it instead. Anyway if you need the Mac now, you can later buy Snow Leopard for ~$100 (not sure about the price).
    Get the memory and accesories from other resellers, like OWC www.macsales.com, NewEgg, www.macmall.com
    I believe that :apple:'s return policy is good for 14 days if you buy directly from :apple:. Check their website and continue browsing the MacRumors website for more details.
    Good Luck and feel free to ask any other questions.
  3. TEG macrumors 604


    Jan 21, 2002
    Langley, Washington
    1) If you buy, and they update within 14 days, just return the product for a refund and then buy the new one, otherwise, the only guarantee is a $5 OS upgrade that they usually extend to those who bought new systems or OS discs within 60/90 days of the upgrades. Also the guide is sometimes a bit inaccurate, since it doesn't take into account the recent speed bump of the MBP.

    2) For the most part, you are better off getting 3rd party upgrades, then if you are concerned, get the Apple Store or an Apple Repair center to actually perform the upgrade.

    3) On a laptop, AppleCare is always worth it. If anything happens, through no fault of your own, they will fix it, and you get telephone support for 3 full years.

  4. kjoy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    So you can easily swap/upgrade both the internal ram and internal HD if necessary?

    Does anyone have any sort of timeline for the release of the next hardware upgrade? I don't mind upgrading the OS for $100.00 or so - especially if it is like +4 months or so from now. My concern was more the difference between the hardware of the upcoming laptops...
  5. kjoy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    Also, under the AppleCare, if I do the upgrades myself, does it void the warranty?
  6. angemon89 macrumors 68000


    Feb 5, 2008
    The place where Apple designs stuff
    The hard drive and RAM are user serviceable in the new MBPs. As long as you don't damage anything when replacing them, you should be fine. It's really easy to do you shouldn't have a problem.

    As for the AppleCare, yes, it's totally worth it especially on laptops. However, I don't think you should buy it just yet. Your computer is covered for 1 year, and you have that full year to buy and apply the extended AppleCare. Why add to the initial cost of buying the Notebook if you don't have to? :p

    I usually wait till a couple of weeks before my 1 year limited warranty is up before I buy the Applecare. And I do this mostly because I upgrade my Macs before the year is up anyway.
  7. lucasgladding macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2007
    Waterloo, Ontario
    Make sure you need FireWire and ExpressCard before letting that force your decision. I can see FireWire being required for some users, but with so many video cameras using USB, it's not required for everyone. The best thing to do is look at the equipment you may/will be using with the system and go from there. The 13" MacBooks are very portable systems with decent video cards. I use mine for web development, software development, graphic design, etc, and have no complaints. If you are on a fixed budget, a MacBook with a 24" monitor, an external backup drive, a Wacom tablet, etc may be better ways to spend your money than a MacBook Pro alone.

    RAM and HD upgrades are pretty simple, and they don't void your warranty.

    The buyers guide here is based on the average time between past updates, so there is no guarantee with respect to what will happen and when. As far as details go, there's no way to tell for sure, but Intel's new chip releases provide some insight into what might happen. I don't follow Intel closely, so I'll let someone else comment on the chips that are possibilities for the next updates.

    Regarding the warranty, it's worth noting that AppleCare can be purchased anytime in the first year. You don't need to purchase it with the computer.
  8. kjoy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2009
    Those are excellent ideas. I never really thought about stringing out the warranty for the year.

    Of the MB, would you go with the aluminum or the polycarbonate?

    My Video Camera is firewire only...a bit older Sony. But, I guess with the price difference between the MB and the MBP, I could just as easy buy an updated video camera as well!

    I'm a Windows and Linux user now. Most apps I use are OpenSource - Inkscape, Gimp, etc, for graphic arts and development

    I have a bit older Sony MiniDV video camera. Bunch of videos of the kids I'd like to get onto DVD. I've been saying I would do that for years now...

    And I have about a 10,000+ picture library on my computer that I want to manage/edit, etc. I use Picasa now in combination with Gimp to do most of the editing. I don't work in RAW or anything...not a professional. Just trigger happy I guess. I get a break through my school as well...I think it is $50 on the MB and $100 on the MBP...

    Also, what Office package is used on Mac? I like the capabilities of OpenOffice, although, there are a lot of formatting issues when going back and forth between OpenOffice and Office 2007...
  9. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Maybe a tenative 1st step would be the new white macbooks since they have firewire, and have roughly the same performance as the base macbooks.
  10. lucasgladding macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2007
    Waterloo, Ontario
    In your case, I recommend the polycarbonate MacBook. As clyde2801 mentioned, you get FireWire with that design. Other differences between models include (aluminum vs polycarbonate respectively):
    1. Hard drive
    - 160GB vs 120GB
    - easily upgraded in either model
    2. Memory
    - 1066MHz vs 667MHz
    - easily upgraded in either model (not the speed obviously)
    3. Keyboard
    - backlit available in the high-end aluminum model
    - backlit unavailable in the polycarbonate model
    4. Video
    - Mini DisplayPort vs Mini-DVI
    - will affect what adapters are necessary if you are connecting an external display
    - Mini DisplayPort supports higher resolutions
    - again, look at what you may want to buy for expansion and go from there

    You won't have any trouble finding open source software for the Mac. Its worth spending some time looking for what's available before buying. For inexpensive shareware photo editing, give Pixelmator a try. I personally spent the money on Creative Suite, but the interface in Pixelmator is great if you aren't doing pro work. If you get a good deal on Creative Suite through school, though, that may be worthwhile. Experience with the software goes a long way if you ever want to work somewhere with that in the workflow. I can't tell the details about your school program from your first email.

    Despite what anyone says, there are tradeoffs to buying a Mac, and you'll be much happier if you go into the purchase informed. The hardware components in Apple computers can have problems, just like with any computer, and applications and the operating system can crash, though OS crashes are very, very rare for most users. That said, I have been using the Mac since 1987 and would never consider a Windows-based system for my primary computer. I worked in accounting for several years, requiring Windows systems at work, so I have plenty of experience on Windows.

    Apple gets a lot of grief about putting style before substance, though these criticisms usually come from those who have never looked into the underpinnings of the system in my experience. Apple puts a lot of work into technical innovations, as is evident with Snow Leopard, and that is what drives the 3rd party Mac development community. You don't need to be a developer to benefit from this kind of thing.

    I recommend checking out Espresso from MacRabbit if you do any hand-coded web development. The software is one of the applications in the current MacHeist bundle. I'm not sure if they have worked out the bugs they had with the ordering system yet, but it may be worth looking at www.macheist.com while the deal is on (10 more days).

    Most open source office packages are available for the Mac and you can get Microsoft Office ($149). Depending on the level of compatibility you need, however, iWork ($79) is worth consideration. You can share documents with Microsoft Office (and the open source variants) to varying degrees of compatibility. There are plenty of options, so just try them out once you pick up the system. There are demos of both commercial applications and the open source apps can be downloaded from sourceforge. I love the interfaces in the iWork applications and rarely share documents with others for editing, so that's what I use typically.

    Kind regards and good luck with the purchase

    Luke Gladding
  11. whitefang macrumors 6502

    Mar 1, 2009
    Don't buy apple, they screw their customers really bad. I was really liking my UBMP until these problems.

    A lot of people bought a new UBMP last month and guess what? Apple released a update to the processors. No problem right? Except that the new updated UBMP could use 8gigs of RAM while the entry-level and 2.5 versions couldn't (there was no reason they couldn't other than apple disabling it).

    Also, you're stuck to proprietary connectors. Look at the past years, Apple has used over 5 different connectors and you have to upgrade every year.

    I bought an ACD last night. Guess what? It emits 3 kinds of electronic noise (unheard of in PC). First, when the charger is plugged in, it emits an annoying high-pitched noise. Whenever the UBMP goes to sleep/shutsdown, it emits another high-frequency noise AND a frequency ticking noise. Unbelievable.

    Also, when your UBMP's battery is removed, it will slow down to HALF the speed FOR NO REASON. So when the battery becomes obsolete, your laptop will be USELESS. This will never happen to a windows laptop.

    When you buy Apple, just know you are committed to them. Apple makes the decisions, you don't. When you buy a windows laptop, you're not committed to anything.

    2 weeks ago, I was recommending Apple to everyone, now I highly advise against them.
  12. lucasgladding macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2007
    Waterloo, Ontario
    I haven't been following the memory issue between unibody MacBook Pro models, so I can't say much about the issue. From what I've read on the other threads, however, I haven't seen proof that the only difference is the processor speed and that the memory ceiling is an artificial restriction. Look at the uproar about the supposed "authentication chip" in the new shuffle headphones to see how this kind of thing can be blown out of proportion without adequate details about the hardware. In any case, what was the official ceiling when you bought the system? I don't see why any company should be on the hook for more than they advertised on purchase.

    Apple sometimes does use proprietary video connectors, very true. Mini DisplayPort seems to be limited to them at the moment, much like other times they have included "mini" connectors. Other than laptop cases where they use mini connectors, however, Apple usually provides an industry standard connection as an alternative. I wish they would either include the most common adapter or use something with all laptops too, but I hardly consider $40 for an adapter a deal-breaker.

    Have you exchanged your ACD yet? I've used the new display, though I do not own one, and never noticed the noise. Personally, I've never been able to justify the price of Apple displays anyway, so I end up buying an adapter and hook it up to something from another manufacturer.

    Thanks for pointing out the half-speed behavior on the MacBook without its battery. I had not heard that before. I usually run my system with the battery in at all times, but I know a few others that take their battery out. That said, this is not limited to Apple systems as you suggested. A google search yields plenty of pages on the topic. One in particular about the MacBooks can be found here:

    I heard my share of stories working for two Apple resellers in the past, but I still prefer to buy from the company. Thinking that Apple is the only computer company that requires a commitment, however, is severely misguided IMHO. Every purchase you make ties you into some kind of commitment, whether they be warranty limitations, compatibility restrictions, etc.
  13. iknowyourider macrumors 6502a


    Mar 26, 2008
    I'd also recommend a new white MB. Great entry price with FW. Try to get an external DVD burner on sale at bestbuy for 30-40 bucks. If you burn a large home movie collection and rip a large music collection (maybe) with your new MB, you could save a lot of wear on it's optical drive (IMHO).
  14. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Kansas City
    I won't defend Apple blindly as there is obviously some issues. The thing to remember is almost every single person I've spoken to or have read about has been taken care of by a repair, or by replacing/upgrading their machine.

    As to one of the last comment I highlighted... yes we all know what your commiting to with Windows, spyware, adware, viruses, constant time wasted to keep your machine running. Also give it 6 months to a year and you can keep your battery in your Windows machine and still lose 50% speed.

    Obviously your bitter about your experience. Making the Windows statement is just laughable and you know it or you would have never made a move to Apple.

    Bottom line OSX is a more stables, more user friendly OS then Windows has been or ever will be. That is fact.

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