How To Buy A Mac: The Real Mac Genius Guide

So you’ve decided you’re either going to buy a Mac for the first time, or you want to upgrade to a newer one. Good show! But believe it or not, there’s actually an art to it. Following just three steps will help you find the Mac that’s right for you without any buyer’s remorse later.

1. Set a purpose

It’s one thing to want a Mac. It’s another to want it for a specific reason. You’ll most likely spend more money than if you bought a PC, so you want to make sure you’re meeting a specific need. What will you want to do with it?

If you’re looking at doing heavy duty tasks such as graphic design, movie editing, or audio mixing, then the MacBook Pro or Mac Pro can definitely handle your needs. The iLife suite alone is a great answer to why you’d want to buy a Mac. If you’re looking for a computer for more casual use, then there’s a range of options from the MacBook to the iMac. Road warrior? MacBook Air.

And what good is the hardware without the software to complement it? Make sure to check out which software you need, especially if you’re going to an Apple Store. I don’t think I’ve been to one yet that wasn’t always crowded. Your first concern should be an office suite. The two main options are iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) or Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). There’s something to be said for going with all Apple software, considering how well they work together. Also, they can open Microsoft files and save as them. However, if you mainly work in a PC environment, Microsoft Office would be the way to go.

2. Do your homework

Please promise me you won’t be one of those people who buys a computer, only to learn that there’s a newer model the following week. Here’s a tip: OS X 10.7 Lion is just around the corner. You can catch a sneak peek at it in our previous article. Basically, wait until the summer.

Checking the different Mac sites should help you get an idea of what to expect. Sites like Cult of Mac, Apple Insider, Mac Rumors, and us of course can give you a fair idea of what might be up and coming. The best approach is to get a broad view of the news, considering that sometimes Apple will intentionally release false information, or sometimes someone will post something just to be stupid.

You can also try to look at the trends of previous Apple product releases. New iPhones come out in June, new iPods in September, but the notebooks and desktops aren’t so easy to predict. A general rule is that Apple will release revisions to a model each every eight to twelve months. In August, Apple tends to do their iPod promotion for students and teachers. Show that you’re with an educational institution when you buy your Mac, and get a free iPod Touch.

3. Don’t buy AppleCare

Never buying a warranty is a good rule of life. AppleCare is no exception. Here’s the deal: dropping a computer and water are the two main causes of damage. AppleCare covers neither. It gives you 90 days of phone support and a one year limited warranty for hardware.

Phone support is okay, but the Genius on the other end of the line is just looking at a slightly more advanced Apple KBase. There are also plenty of discussion boards out there for free. As for the hardware, definitely keep an eye on your computer for the first year. Follow up immediately if you see any signs for concern. If you can make it past the first year, chances are you’re good. AppleCare just extends the phone and hardware support to three years. It does not add three years. You have to buy it when you buy your Mac.

Take time when evaluating whether or not to buy a Mac, and what options would it open for you. It is a great investment that will last you for the long haul. You’ll be getting a great piece of equipment with software designed to be comfortable for the user. Following these three steps will put you on the right path to the right Mac.

Buyer’s remorse be gone!

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