I know that I am in the minority of Apple users when I complain about Apple's prices. Most Apple users absolutely love their products and happily pay more than one might expect for the privilege of using Apple products.
In October of 2010, I willingly shelled out a substantial chunk of cash to get an I5 iMac. Over the years I have bought lots of wonderful Apple products whose purchase made my computing life much nicer.
Included in those purchases was a MacBook that I bought in July of 2006. That trusted MacBook recently got to the point that it had to be retired. Five years of use is a worthy accomplishment for any laptop. The MacBook made one trip back to a service center. I also upgraded its memory, did a couple of hard drive transplants, and had to buy a power supply over its useful lifespan.
Because I also work in the world of Windows, I have been using Windows laptops since the fall of 2005. At that time I was using my one year old Aluminum G4 PowerBook which built up enough problems to require the purchase of the MacBook in July 2006.
In fact I have had three Windows laptops in the last six years and two Mac laptops. Of the three Windows laptops only one is no longer working. My youngest daughter's big dog managed to sit on the screen of the 2005 Dell Latitude last summer and crack it. The other two Windows laptops are still alive and mostly well. My second Windows laptop which I used for something over three years had Vista on it. While it runs, it is a stretch to call anything with Vista "well."
I personally concluded that Vista was a quagmire. That was one of the reasons that I bought myself a new I7 HP laptop in February 2010. Both my wife's I5 HP laptop and my I7 HP laptops have been very reliable. I did recently have some software issues with my I7 due to the software that came with an external USB backup drive.
Those issues seem to be resolved, but I am nearing the two year life span that I hoped to get out of the HP. With the replacement battery and new power supply that I bought, the cost per day for the system will be around $1.38. On top of that I can clean the hard drive off and give it to my daughter with the hope she won't leave it somewhere her dog will sit on it. She would dearly love to have an upgrade from her white half moon (lamp tower) G4 iMac with an eighty gig hard drive.
With my MacBook dead, I would really like to have a Mac laptop, but once again Apple seems to have made it hard for me to make that decision. I really don't want to spend more than a thousand dollars for a laptop. The money per year that I have spent on Mac laptops and Windows laptops is roughly equivalent, but the difference is that 67% of the Windows laptops are still running and none of the Macs are.
Some of my Apple friends have been pushing me towards a MacBook Air, and it looks like a lovely machine. However, the $999 MacBook Air does not meet my minimum specs. First off it only has two gigs of ram, second I have to buy an external CD drive, and third it doesn't come with a SD slot. Finally it only has an 11" screen. It might make a fine second laptop, but I would not want it as my main laptop.
That leaves me with the 13" MacBook Air as the lowest cost viable Mac option. With the external CD drive, it would cost me $1,378 except I would likely have to add an external storage drive for my photos. In the end I am carrying around too many pieces and still don't have exactly what I need for the money that I want to spend.
What I would really like to have is another MacBook just like the one that died except with an I5 processor, 4 Gigs of ram and a nice fast 500 gig hard drive. I think Apple could build one of those for under $1,000 dollars if they wanted to get serious about being competitive in the low end market. If Apple would build something like the White MacBook once again, I would buy it in a heart beat and not even complain about the 13" screen.
However, with all the web work that I do and my aging eyes, I really need a laptop with a 15" screen for my main laptop.
So I went out and configured a 15" MacBook Pro to meet my needs. It came out to a stunning $2,249 which happens to be more than twice what I want to spend on a laptop. I am sure it is a great laptop, but the math just doesn't work for me. On something that expensive, I would have to add another $349 for extended AppleCare.
So I went to the Lenovo website and after looking closely decided to order one of their 15.6" I7 laptops. It has a base price of $799. You can see the specs here. While it doesn't have Thunderbolt, it supposedly comes with USB 3.0, but I will wait and see how it works before commenting. By the time I added Microsoft Office Home & Student Version, a cable, and NC tax, the total came out to $997.96. All the rest of my software will transfer, but I decided it was time to upgrade from Office 2007.
The Lenovo has everything that I need and want at a price that meets my budget. Had I bought the MacBook Air, I would be able to solve my iCloud issue since it would have given me a Mac OS X Lion system to administer iCloud, but it would not have fit the other things that I needed.
I know that I am going to get plenty of Mac users telling me that I have made a mistake. I believe what I have chosen does the best job of meeting my needs especially since this is my desktop replacement laptop. However, I would dearly love to have a MacBook Air so I could write about the product and about Mac OSX Lion.
So instead of trying to argue specs and life cycle costs with the people who think I should have gotten a Mac laptop, I am going to give people a chance to do something about it. That's why you will see the PayPal donate button at the top of the right panel. I would love to review more Apple products, but the reality is that I cannot afford to buy them, and there is less than a snowball's chance in hell of Apple ever sending me a product to review.
I have been writing about Apple for over seven years now, and all the product reviews and commentary have been based on products that I bought with my own money. Before I recently pulled a lot of content in preparation for my book, I had over 1,000 pages of Mac commentary on the web.
Unfortunately the extra dollars are just no longer there for Apple products that don't match my needs. I would love to give the new Mac Mini a whirl, but I have a perfectly good Dual G5 system still doing the job, and I can't justify the expense of buying a Mini.
If I get close enough to the price of a MacBook Air, I will kick in some dollars to get the project rolling. I like to think that I add a somewhat different perspective to the world of Apple. If enough people think what I write is worth a dollar or two, then it won't be long before I write my first MacBook Air review.
If the donation thing works, I'll keep the product reviews flowing interspersed with the Apple company insights that I will do one way or the other. (Update) Upon further reflection, I think it makes sense to put any hardware that I buy with donations up for bid after I have spent three months with it. I'll set the minimum bid at 20% less than I paid for the item. Winning bid will get the product for their bid minus any donation that they made towards that purchase. I'll take the proceeds and buy another Apple product for review.
If too few people are willing to donate to buy something from Apple, I will take what comes in and make a charitable donation with it.
With that, I'll have to say that we have enjoyed a wonderful holiday season with some homemade treats and a few games of Rook. The cold weather has me thinking of Canada and happy not to be living in a world where shopping is at the epicenter. There are benefits to hanging your hat along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks where December can still bring some stellar beach days, plenty of shorts weather, and a peaceful end of the year.
My book about Apple is finished and just waiting for me to talk to an agent when they come back to work the first week in January. More details will be available here as they reveal themselves to me.
There are a few other changes to my blog. There is a search option for the blog now available in the right side panel. There is also a new way of sharing at the end of the post. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to send my posts onto their friends.
Have a great New Year's celebration.