Help me get the most Mac for my buck.
February 4, 2009 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm buying a new Mac iBook, iPhone, and accessories in a couple of weeks. How can I get the best deal(s)?

I'm a Mac loyalist, but not super tech savvy. I buy them and use them until they (nearly) croak. With my tax return, I am looking at buying the new 13 inch MacBook 2.4GHz with Apple Care, Airport Express, an iPhone 3G, and phone accessories. So far it looks like my best bet is to get a refurb Macbook from Apple ($200 off plus free shipping) and a refurb iPhone from AT&T for $150. Are there any better deals or freebies out there that I am missing?
posted by kimdog to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might find better prices used on eBay, but then you never quite know what you're getting.

FWIW, I've bought items refurb from Apple (2 Macbooks, 2 Mac Minis). In the case of the Macbooks, both came with minor issues (one had 3 tiny bubbles under the screen laminate and the other had a slightly sticky trackpad button) and both were resolved very quickly under warranty (the trackpad was replaced in an hour at a Genius bar, the screen was fixed in a 4 day turnaround shipped to/from Cupertino) - no cost out of pocket for either.

AFAIK, the only other option is to find someone who's got a developer/educational discount. The only time I've seen Mac/iPhone on sale/discount is Black Friday. Otherwise, the prices are consistent across vendors (including straight from Apple). You might find bundle deals with substantial discounts on extra items.
posted by StickyC at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2009

Mac Mall sells preconfigured "last season" machines for less, so you can get the last revision of the chipset for a pretty good discount.
posted by plexi at 11:14 AM on February 4, 2009

I'd go for the new 2.0Ghz white MacBook with 9400M. . . $960 from Amazon.

And instead of an iPhone 3G I'd consider just getting a 16MB iPod Touch. The phone is cool but I'm not entirely sold that it's $800/yr cool.
posted by troy at 11:29 AM on February 4, 2009

Tough to get significant deals on Mac stuff. I think the refurb is a good way to go. ANother option is to find a friend who works at Apple and ask for one of their 15% off deals, or go the educational route as StickyC suggested.
posted by ejoey at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: Also, consider buying AppleCare through eBay. I did that a while back for my iMac and it was about 30% cheaper than Apple or Amazon's price.
posted by jaimev at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you're not in a hurry for an iPhone, you might wait -- they're rumored to be releasing a new model sometime in June of this year, so you might be able to snap up a current-gen 3G cheap then.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: If you buy from the Education store you get a 10% discount. At the physical stores you have to prove you're a student but you do not have to prove online.
posted by radioamy at 12:04 PM on February 4, 2009

Apple also has a military discount program if you know someone in the armed forces.
posted by nicwolff at 12:14 PM on February 4, 2009

And instead of an iPhone 3G I'd consider just getting a 16MB iPod Touch. The phone is cool but I'm not entirely sold that it's $800/yr cool.

$800/yr isn't exactly an accurate comparison. Most of us already have a cell phone of some sort, so it's not like you're going from zero to 800.

When I got my iPhone, the cost increase per month was about $15. That's a $180/yr increase to go from a pretty mundane flip-phone to a smartphone. It syncs with my Mac perfectly, and without the usual half-assed software implementations (or no syncing at all) that most phones have with regard to Macs.

I know that the iPod Touch does most of what the iPhone does. I'm paying the extra for the convergence of an integrated phone, GPS locater, and use-anywhere capability (the Touch could only be used where there is available free wifi). I don't find the cost difference to be unacceptable, but YMMV.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:22 PM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: I'm already on AT&T paying about $60 a month, so the plan increase is negligible. My current Samsung slider phones has had cracked screen for 6 months, and is close to being unusable as more pixels die. I actually went to buy an iPhone in November, but realized that since my OS was 10.3.9, I would either have to shell out for an upgrade or wait till I got a new laptop. So, I really want to get the iPhone now.

Re:Ebay, actually I bought one of my Macs (a clamshell iBook) on e-Bay, and had pretty good luck. But I'm much less willing to roll the dice these days. But thanks for the tip on AppleCare, jaimev, this will be the first time I'm buying it.
posted by kimdog at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2009

SmallDog has used and demo models from time to time.
posted by zippy at 1:48 PM on February 4, 2009

If you are in the market for a new Apple product, always keep an eye on Apple's own Special deals page. There's a lot of churn (Apple just removes products when they sell out) but they do post some pretty good deals on referbs and last-product-cycle MacBooks and iPods from time to time, all of which still includes a full one-year warranty.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2009

I'll second dyslexic's recommendation. I just bought a black macbook from there last week. This is the benchmark deal to look out for: Black macbook 2.4 Ghz 2 Gig Memory 250 gig HD, and all the other stuff. This was $1050, and pops up rarely from what I've seen. This is a MUCH better deal (IMO) than for say the 2.2 Ghz 1 gig/160 gig HD I saw for $1000, or the white ones at 2.1 with 1 gig and 120 gig drives and cd/dvd roms going for $850.

Also, after seeing my particular config disappear an hour or so later, I talked to a rep in chat asking about when I might expect to see that particular model come back. After giving her the specs, she gave me a working link to that exact model and price. YMMV but it couldn't hurt to try for yourself.

I've been waiting for a few years for a deal like this, and glad I did. I couldn't be happier with the product and value.
posted by skechada at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2009

You might also consider picking up a Time Machine, since you're going to buy a wireless hub anyway. It's more expensive, but backing up your laptop is a must, and it saves you the hassle of having to remember and plug in an external drive. I haven't regretted spending the extra money for my TM.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:10 AM on February 5, 2009

Just to clarify Fleebnork's last comment, the device he was referring to is a Time Capsule which is a wireless access point/hard drive combo that works with the software Time Machine that is built into OS X to effortlessly provide wireless backups whenever you are in range of the unit.

You can, however, use Time Machine without a Time Capsule -- you just need your own external drive and it wont be wireless.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 10:43 AM on June 15, 2009

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