Important Considerations for Buying a Mac Computer

Few brands inspire the same level of staunch loyalty found in Mac users. If you have decided to take the plunge and buy your first Apple computer, it can be quite exciting. There has been some speculation about sales falling because of the popularity of the iPad, but ultimately, MacBooks reign supreme, and are just getting better according to this interesting article Will People Eventually Stop Buying MacBooks and Buy Tablets Instead?.

You may think all you need to do is head on over to a store, buy one and be on your way, but hold on a minute. There are a few things you want to think about first to ensure a satisfied purchase.

Where Can You Purchase?

Mac computers and other products are not as readily available as their PC counterparts. The company has pretty tight regulations regarding who can sell their wares.

You have a few options. There are the Apple retail stores, or its online store. There are some third party retailers that are permitted to sell Macs, such as Best Buy and stores designated Apple Authorized Dealers. You can also find them online at sites such as Amazon.com, MacMall and MacConnection.

Where Should You Purchase?

To entice buyers to purchase directly from Apple, the retailer offers some benefits you won’t find at a third-party operation. If you order online, for example, you are able to customize the computer in various ways, from adding additional memory to upgrading the processor. You can also pay for extras, such as training to use your computer at Apple retail stores for around 100 dollars a year. Repairs and replacements are done on site, while a third party retailer would have to send the computer back to get fixed or exchanged.

Third party sellers offer some advantages. While Apple’s online store will charge state sales tax, many online retailers don’t — though you may still be responsible for this tax when doing your returns. The warranties are the same, and employees at these establishments may be able to offer advice for Mac issues that employees who work directly for Apple would not be able to discuss with you. If the time is right, you may be able to snag a computer for a bit less, as a third party retailer may offer a sale much like any other item, while Apple stores rarely discount the products. Though, don’t expect to get any sort of significant discount.

Refurbished Macs

Like it was just mentioned, all Macs that get returned make their way back to the company, allowing them to be repaired and restored. These refurbished computers are almost like new, and comes with the same warranty as a brand new computer. If your budget is tight, you can secure a good computer for a few hundred dollars less. Some refurbished models are the most current, while others may be one or two generations back.

Should You Get the Extended Warranty?

Upon purchasing your Mac, you get a limited one-year warranty and 90 days of telephone support free. The AppleCare extended warranty provides coverage for three years from the date you bought the computer. The warranty includes phone support, carry-in service at Apple stores and providers authorized to service the computer and delivery of parts you can replace on your own, like cables. Except in cases where the problem was obviously caused by user negligence, all repairs are free of charge.

Like any warranty, you are getting coverage just in case. It is probably worth it because many issues that could potentially crop up can be very expensive to fix, such as a busted display or problems with the motherboard and you will likely pay many times more than the cost of the warranty.