Need some tips/advice!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by JagsFan829, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. JagsFan829 macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2012
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Hey guys,

    I'm kind of a newbie around these parts, so bare with me.

    Any tips on saving for my 1st Mac laptop?

    I'm an iPhone addict and I really want to take the plunge into the Mac computer world.

    I've set aside money from my "spending funds" (my wife & I allocate spending funds for the each of us) to save each month. At this rate, I'll be able to save $50 the 1st and 2nd half of the month. So, $100/mo. on that. No more than that, otherwise I won't have cash for my frequent coffee/lunch trips during the week. :D I'm also selling a bunch of random stuff of mine I've had but don't use anymore, on EBay. They're all smaller items, but hey, it'll add up. You know, old electronics, dvd's, etc.

    I work in banking and set-up a savings account specifically for my goal. I'm still working on my degree (on the side, we have a 5-year-old together and both work full-time.. we're young parents), so I'd classify for the student discount.

    I also have to account for taxes, any other fees (at the Apple store, online, etc.) and whatever other misc things come up. Maybe insurance or extra warranty. I'm the type that freaks out about the idea of dropping my iPhone, so we always get the best warranty/insurance.

    At first, I was shooting for the MacBook Air.. just because I don't really do a whole lot but surf the web, listen to music, store family photos/videos, and use Microsoft Office extensively. But I've been told by a buddy of mine that I should just shell out the extra money for the 13" MacBook Pro. I haven't decided yet. It'd probably be helpful to have the disk drive.

    I'm trying to avoid financing options, as we no longer have any credit card debt (or debt of any kind, other than cars and mortgage), so I'm trying to go the responsible route. :D

    Sorry for the rambling!

    I'll sum up my topic in 3 questions:

    1. Any other tips for me to achieve my goal?
    2. How did you purchase your first Mac laptop/computer?
    3. Would the Apple store be the best place to buy it? (We love buying our new iPhones there.. so much better than the AT&T store!)

  2. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    1) Start watching the refurbished store.... it's on Apple Store page, bottom left corner. Deals come and go there... sometimes in the space of hours. If you start watching now, and comparing how those prices compare to "new" you'll get sense of what is a "good" deal and what is a "great" deal. You have time.... which always works to your advantage on the refurb store.

    2) When you have the funds, you will be able to just 'pounce' on a "great" deal. Set up an Apple ID ahead of time... less stressful if you aren't worried about someone scooping 'your' new laptop while setting up the Apple ID for the 1st time.

    3) Don't worry about saving for the extended warranty - AppleCare - just yet. You have a year from the date of purchase to add AppleCare... so you can save for AC after the purchase.... but don't push the year right out to 364 days - buy it after 11 months just to be safe.

    4) The best deals are often on the models that have just been replaced by a newly released model. If you are a normal household user, then these "obsolete" model is more than enough for your needs... save the money.

    Good Luck.
  3. jterp7 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011

    1) macmall has the last gen air 13" ultimate for about 1100 if you don't need thunderbolt or a backlit keyboard

    2) I bought both my TBD and 2011 13 MBA base open box at best buy for less than apple refurb price. These are not guaranteed vs apple refurb so you'll want to look it over and play with it at least a week to be sure there's no funny business.

    3) allegedly if you buy your product from the apple store you get better service when there's a problem in the future, though from MR there's experiences for and against this, including if you purchased the extra warranty which isn't cheap.

    4) Personally it's either the 13MBA or 15 pro..the 13pro is missing the dedicated graphics and really doesn't save you any money over the air if they're similarly equipped (SSD).

    The ONLY benefit IMO is the ability to put conventional 2.5" ssds or any HDs in it far more easily and cheaply than the air, and if you absolutely must have a dvd drive. If you're not planning on tinkering with it and will have external storage, look for a deal on the MBA.
  4. Mick 1 macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2012
    My advice? Buy. Good PC!

    After being a "PC-only" user the the better part of the last 40 decades, I finally recieved one too many error messages, one too many itunes malfunctions, one too many failures to synch and decided to make the move to Apple. I loved my new ipad that my wife got me a few weeks earlier (which worked great right out of the box with my existing pc wifi network), already had a smartphone, so I looked forward to seemless integration.....

    I bought a new iMac mini (with upgraded CPU and memory upgrades) and planned to use my existing HD monitor. I also had to order the external dvd drive as it didn't come with one. (this was tough for a veteran PC user to fathom how a computer could NOT ship with a cd/DVD drive built-in). The salesgirl assured me all my devices will synch up and work as one nice, compact system.

    Everything set up fine when it all arrived a couple weeks later from Apple (special orders need to be factory shipped). The first thing my new machine did was erase the ringtones off my smartphone when I ported all my music over to the Mini's itunes folder. Recalling my account purchases from Apple Store was of no use it showed they were there with my music purchases, but wouldn't download.

    I also learned that all of my last 40 yrs of MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel projects would now have to run under "MS Office for Mac" (a poorly stripped down version of the real Windows version), or some crappy Apple "word processing" knock-off that doesn't have a fraction of the features and power of MS Office.

    Called Apple "Tech Support" last nite to ask for help synchronizing my system so I'm not having to delete the same emails 3x (once on all 3 devices. Heavy-Accent-Dude told me the synch program will cost me $300 clams to activate the software to do this (It's already there and built-in!!!) for a year's SUBSCRIPTION to do this but if I let it lapse, I no long have the capability!!

    Called "TS" for the last time today to ask about my missing .99 cent ringtone. was told "I can help you with this issue but this call will cost $79.00 as you did not buy the unlimited software support" (past the purchase date) and this was considered a "software issue" and not supported by the original purchase agreement.

    Seems ever since I made the jump to apple in January, all they've done is nickel and dime me for one thing after another. I now have just over $1850 into this system (and haven't even tried the cd drive yet) and I just stare at my desk thinking that could've had a really nice, fast, Windows laptop running a very stable Windows 7 right now, instead of this pile of crap. If, after reading this you still wish to go apple, I have a nice, new system with less than 15 total hours on it that I would let go for $1700......cables are included (not extra, like they charged me!)......
  5. Chris2k11, Feb 29, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012

    Chris2k11 macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2011
    If your going to get an Air get a 13", bigger SSD and memory card slot. Personal preference is the 13" MBP.

    Where to buy it... At Best Buy there on sale 1299 for the starter 13" Air and 1138 for the Starter MBP. They always have open boxes but like someone else said, check it first.

    As for the guy above me. iMac Mini?? You must have made a new Mac that no one knows about. The external drive is useless, sorry you bought it but with the Mac App store and iTunes, no need for it. Don't blame Apple for microsofts failure at making word work on a Mac.

    Once you buy a Mac, and you have an open mind, you will love it.
  6. JagsFan829 thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2012
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Sheesh! That mac mini review was pretty extreme. To be honest, I don't even know what a mac mini is. I'm moreso looking at laptop options. I haven't had a desktop computer in like 5-6 years.

    Thanks for all the info/advice.

    One quick question -- any of you utilize the iPad in place of a Mac laptop nowadays? I thought about the iPad route. Maybe picking up a discounted iPad 2 after the iPad 3 goes on sale. I've heard you can use the iPad with this neat keyboard/stand combo and can do a lot of similar things you can do on the laptops. Would you say this is true?

    Again.. I don't do a WHOLE lot on the computer other than surf the web, watch videos, etc. But I may have a need later this year to use Microsoft Word, as I'm going to start taking some classes again opposite my work schedule.

    You guys are a great resource. Thanks again.


    So, what's the deal with the open box sales? Is that safe?

    Also.. any of you guys buy anything through eBay or maybe even a pawn shop? Pawn shop sounded pretty shady to me, but I have a family member who's purchased Apple laptop and desktop computers there, all still in the box! I'm always worried about buying anything from a place like that, wondering if some weirdo has hidden files on the computer or something crazy on there. I dunno.
  7. Chris2k11 macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2011
    Be careful of eBay and Pawn shops because god only knows how long the person before you had it. Open box items usually don't have issues because Best Buys return policy is only 14 days so no one owned it more then that. Just check them out. iPad vs. laptop. I have both and still find a need for my laptop and my iPad. There are things like internet that I prefer to do on a laptop like papers and things like this, where I need to type a lot. But things that prefer to do on my iPad like games, of course, and emails are fun. But that s a tough decision.

    Good Luck
  8. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I just bought a 2010 Mac mini refurb from the Apple store for $469. I have had no problems with it. The first thing I did was open the bottom and pop in $40 worth of RAM (8GB). The mini came with Snow Leopard so next thing (after initial software updates) was to repartition the 320 GB drive so I could play with Mountain Lion on a separate partition. I then decided to install ML on an external drive so the internal drive would be untouched since ML is a beta OS.

    I'm very impressed with the current and 2010 minis. I do have some advice for users considering a mini. First of all, get an Apple keyboard. Nothing is worse than staring at those useless windows keys wondering which one will work as command and which one is really option. Second of all, get Applecare if you are new to Mac. On a mini, Applecare costs only $150 for 3 years of support. That's 50 bucks a year for unlimited incidents. Lastly if you are out of support, make a genius bar appointment at the Apple store. It's an excellent way to get a half hour worth of free support and simpler problems will be solved in less time than that. As for current vs 2010, the current minis are faster but the 2010 minis have optical drives and cost even less if you can find one in the refurb store. Set yourself a refurb me alert and you too can snag one.

    For a mini, get a 3rd party monitor. A 21 inch 1080p monitor can be had for $129. So out the door a mini with Apple kb, 3rd party bt mouse, 3rd party monitor and 3rd party cables would set you back less than $800. It would set you back less if you already have a monitor lying around from that PC you are trying to replace. ;)

    As for cables, check They offer displayport to DVI, displayport to VGA, etc, etc. Just take a close look at the ends before you order the cable to make sure it matches the port on your MBA/MBP/mini or whatever. The price including shipping on monoprice is often less than half what you'd pay at Best Buy, Microcenter or the Apple store. BTW, the last time I looked, the Apple store wasn't charging more than any other typical brick and mortar store price for common cables. When I ordered my mini, it said it would arrive by 3/2 so I ordered the adapters I needed from monoprice for about 5 bucks. They arrived the same day as the mini which in turn arrived an entire week early.

    iWork is superior to MS Office in usability and in many features. For instance there are things that are easy to do in Pages that MS expects you to go out and buy Publisher to do on Windows. MS Office Excel and Word have a few slight edges in features that are more common in a corporate setting and for home use iWork is probably all you will ever need. Another option to consider is the freeware LibreOffice. If you need to share documents with Windows users Office 2011 is worth considering and in some ways is better than Office 2010. I prefer not to put MS software (other than Silverlight) on my Mac but in all fairness Office 2011 is a decent program if you feel you need it.

    Now to move to the question of which Mac laptop I would recommend. For a student, I recommend 11 inch the Macbook Air. BUT, if you need ports other than thunderbolt and USB (think firewire which unlike USB can be daisy chained and is a LOT cheaper than thunderbolt), I recommend the 13 inch Macbook Pro. The October 2011 MBP is an excellent value in terms of processing power and performance. Don't buy RAM or HDD from Apple if you can avoid it. There is one exception. If you want SSD and don't mind paying Apple $1000 for something which on the open market is $500, you get better OS support for Apple SSD than for aftermarket SSD. I have aftermarket SSD in several of my Macs and they work just fine. It wasn't worth paying "double" for me.
  9. YESimBLUNTED macrumors member

    May 25, 2011
    In my cubicle somewhere in this rat maze
    Jeez, how old are you??? :eek:
  10. jterp7 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2011
    lol i just noticed that too
  11. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    Wow, I'm sorry to hear you had such a negative experience. I wish you had just come to these forums instead of struggling with tech support because I find that the answers are here anyway -- for example, had I been sitting over your shoulder I could have saved you the following anguish:

    - Any external optical drive would have worked fine, so you could have saved money versus buying the Apple one, and even gotten a better drive. I bought an LG blu-ray burner for mine, cost less than the Apple external DVDRW.

    - Ringtones are tricky things if they are DRMed, and not so tricky if they aren't. If you bought them from iTMS and they're failing to re-download, then that IS a tech support issue and should eventually be solved. I've had a few purchases get "broken" in that way and eventually I was able to get Apple support to reset it so I could download it fresh. If you bought them DRMed from somewhere else then of course you can't transfer them over, and it's odd that you'd think you could. Talk to the source or your carrier to solve that. If your ringtones weren't DRM, then you have them backed up somewhere, right? Just load your backup files onto your new Mini and you're good. What, you didn't back them up? Because that's something you should do, and Apple can't do for you, no matter how much help they offer.

    - Office for Mac 2011 is identical to Office for Windows 2010. So I'm not too sure what problems you had unless you were trying to use an older version. When I mean identical I don't mean pixel-the-same but that every single function is present and every document is handled identically. I depend on using Office on both platforms to make a living, so trust me when I tell you that anything less would be unacceptable, and Office for Mac 2008 definitely did NOT make the grade on this issue. I have to be able to control every single character on every single page on both systems, and that hasn't been a problem since the arrival of OFM'11.

    - Deleting e-mails multiple times is an IMAP issue. You don't mention what email hosting you use so it's tough to steer you for help on this one. If you use iCloud, this would automatically not happen. Same with GMail. If you're using Hotmail or Live Mail, that's POP so of course this is an issue and no you can't solve it. That's why POP sucks and is antiquated and no longer sufficient for email handling in a multi-device usage environment. Private IMAP servers are rolling the dice. You also don't mention what type of smartphone you are using so there might be an interfering issue there -- don't get me started on BBMail.

    - I can't think of a way to put $1800 into a Mac Mini. I'm not sure it's possible even with all options maxed out and all accessories etc. But if you're that unhappy with your system, you should not have trouble at all flipping it on eBay for something resembling the purchase price. That's a good thing about Macs... they hold their value. Or you could even try returning it to where you bought it. Hey, worst case scenario you're right where you sit now, correct?

    Your story is so extreme, in fact, that it makes me wonder if it's genuine or just anti-Apple trolling. But on the optimistic chance that you're a genuine user who had a bad experience who maybe could be solved if you got some info, I've replied with the above. Hope it helps, and good luck with your system in the future, whichever one you use.
  12. JagsFan829 thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2012
    Jacksonville, Florida
    ^^^ that's what I was thinking..
  13. .Pete. macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2012
    I actually tried doing this last week - I'm a teacher and use my laptop for pretty much everything (creation and storage of worksheets/exams, e-textbooks, mark books, the works). I found using the iPad was much more convenient purely as it was less bulk to lug around from room to room, but found it was severely lacking when it came to creating any new worksheets for my students - the ability to copy and paste from different formats is just so much easier on the laptop. If you're planning on using office at a later date, you might find that you have a similar experience. Not that it can't be done on an iPad, just that it is much easier to do on a laptop. At the moment, I'm still on an old white Macbook, so am trying to justify to the wife spending the money on an 11 inch Air - seems to me the perfect compromise of laptop capability and lightweight portability of an iPad
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    To my thinking.... Laptops are designed to create content (though of course they are also good for content consumption). And iPads are designed for content consumption - though of course they can create content as well.

    I don't mean to suggest that iPads can't create content.... just that they are optimized for content consumption and the creation of content is not the priority. Cutting and pasting and other editing chores can be quite tedious on an iPad. It can be done... but I wouldn't want to make my living doing it exclusively on an iPad.

    But... if most of what you do is consume content, then an iPad may be for you.
  15. JagsFan829 thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2012
    Jacksonville, Florida
    My wife and I have decided to go ahead with purchasing an iPad 2 once it goes on sale (after the 3/HD/whatever is released).

    Then we'll begin saving for a Macbook.

    Thanks again for all the advice/help!

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