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When and Where to Buy a Mac

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When and Where to Buy a Mac

By Chris Breen, contributor to The Macintosh Bible, 8th Edition

If you're one of those people who clips coupons and drives two counties over to save 17 cents on an industrial-sized bucket of okra flakes, I'm afraid you're in for a rude awakening when you shop for a Mac. Unlike with nearly every other consumable in the country, you'll find that Macs cannot be had at cut-rate prices.


Apple maintains complete control over the cost of its goods--software and the iPod, too. The only time you'll see the price of a Mac drop is when Apple has blessed that reduction. Given that you won't get a break on your Mac regardless of where you do business, why be choosy about where you shop? Well…

  1. If you buy your Mac from one of Apple's retail stores, you pay no shipping costs and you can have your Mac Right Now.

  2. If you order your Mac from Apple's online store (, there's a good chance that you'll receive your computer before those who ordered from another online outfit. (Apple often takes care of its own orders first, y'see.)

  3. If you shop from any online dealer, you needn't bother getting dressed and making yourself presentable for a journey across town. You can just lie around in your jammies and wait for your Mac to show up.

  4. If you purchase your Mac from a mega-appliance store, there's every likelihood that the person selling you your Mac knows more about the wet/dry shop vac over on Aisle 15 than your computer. Or, worse yet, that person may try to talk you into buying a PC (ewww…) because he or she makes a higher commission on that sale than on a Mac. And should you ever need support from this store, well, god help you.

Now that we've examined where to shop, here are a couple of pointers on when to shop for your new Mac:

  • For the past umpteen years, Apple has timed the release of new Mac models with the Mac-centric trade show, Macworld Expo, held in January and July each year. Although Apple has begun to stray from this strategy--realizing that releasing new computers after Christmas doesn't make a whole lot of sense--it's still worth holding out to see what Steve Jobs unveils at Expo. Unless you really, really need a new Mac, you'd be a chump to buy one two weeks prior to Expo.

  • In addition, it's not always the best idea to buy the very first version of a new Mac model. Apple often holds out on the first release in anticipation of the next revision. For example, a new model may have an underpowered graphics chip set, ship with a lackluster processor, or carry a less-than-rich complement of RAM. The revision--which could ship in the following six to nine months--often makes up for these deficiencies. Also, the second version likely addresses the design flaws and bugs of the first.

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