What computer do I want?
April 12, 2015 8:41 PM   Subscribe

So, my 15mo old daughter poured a cup of coffee in my 2011 Mac Book Pro, and now the keyboard and none of the ports work. I am trying to figure out what to replace it with, if anything (at the moment).

Right now I am typing this on an iPad Air with a keyboard dock thingy. Right now the iPad is kind of working but kind of not. I am very conflicted on what to replace the Mac Pro with. Below are my requirements:

- prefer something in the $800 range. I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on this because I'm pretty sure I'll end up with some other liquid in my computer thanks to said daughter and my own bad judgement at some point sooner than later. Frankly I don't even want to spend the $800 but that does seem to be the price range I've seen for anything decent.
- I really love Mac computers and have had one since 2002. Unfortunately the only computer they sell now for less than $1200 is an 11in Air, which seems very out of date and likely to be phased out soon. Reasons I love Macs - the track pad (so resonsive), the form factor. I'm a designer, I like pretty things, so sue me ;)
- I really only do web browsing on my computer at home. I also need to be able to run a web based graphics program through Citrix gateway, and I need to be able to use a mouse (this is where the iPad fails)
- Probably at some point in the future I would need to get a more powerful computer, so a little underpowered is OK. On the other hand, I tend to keep my computers for 4-5 years, so longevity is also a factor.
- Would kind of prefer to be able to keep my files on my computer - I'm not psyched about these 128GB SSD machines, but if they're the way of the future, then fine.
- It would be cool if it did come with a DVD drive... otherwise I'm going to have to buy a DVD player since the Mac Pro was the last device in the house that could play DVDs.

My husband thinks I should get a Surface Pro. I kind of hate most Windows machines mostly because of the form factor (ugh, the track pads!). I also found I can get the 13" XPS for $800 via Costco, which is an OK computer but it doesn't really get me going like a Mac. It sort of just makes me depressed that I have to spend that much money on something I'm not really excited about.

Metafilter, you know computers. What do I want?
posted by annie o to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Buy used. On eBay. You can get a terrific used Mac laptop in that price range which will fulfill all your uses. In fact, you could probably just buy the same model MacBook Pro and swap the hard drives. Very simple procedure and it will be as if you didn't miss a beat.
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:49 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get a refurbished MacBook Air direct from Apple. Right around your price range. You will probably be happier with a 13" for anything graphicsy. The screen height of the 11" is pretty tight.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:57 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

What you want, I think, is a gently-used MacBook Pro of the vintage you've sadly lost to a watery end. They haven't been updated recently, but still hold their value. The official refurb price of $829 feels a smidge too much, but you do get the one-year Apple warranty and the option to buy AppleCare before the year's up. I'd price a used 13in model from 2011 or 2012 in the $500-600 range. They're perfectly decent and will get you at least a couple of years' additional use, by which time SSD storage may be cheaper and you may be at a point where you're done with DVDs. There will be people selling them to replace them with shiny new retina-display ones.

On preview: if Craigslist is an option where you are, I'd prefer it somewhat over eBay, for an in-person sale with a seller who's willing to let a Mac specialist give it a once-over before you hand over the cash.
posted by holgate at 9:00 PM on April 12, 2015

It sounds like you want a Mac. Apple has a refurb and clearance store online. There are several hovering around the $800-900s right now: for $829 you can get a June 2012 MacBook Pro with a 500GB hard drive and 4GB RAM. You can get 2014 Airs in both sizes around that price too. I've bought two Macs and an iPad from the refurb store and I'll never buy new again. Great deals.

Also, solidarity: this morning I dumped a full cup of coffee on the MacBook Air I got two months ago. I'm out $700 to fix it.
posted by good lorneing at 9:02 PM on April 12, 2015

First, go to the Apple store and see if they can give you any help.

Second, look around for refurb, used Macbooks. People who upgrade will often sell something that still works.

Would a Chromebook help you at all, temporarily? If you don't need your computer for much beyond web browsing and documents, an inexpensive Chromebook might be enough.
posted by bendy at 10:38 PM on April 12, 2015

does it need to be a portable computer? A mac mini will do all the things you're asking for and can be less susceptible to spills—hide it in a cupboard and use a wireless mouse and keyboard?
posted by heeeraldo at 11:10 PM on April 12, 2015

Whatever you get, a silicone keyboard cover is a necessity if toddlers have access. Cheap. Would have saved your machine.

N'thing refurbed MacBook Pro.
posted by spitbull at 4:21 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The 11" Air will probably go soon, yes, but it's still a great computer. I bought one nearly three years ago and it's still basically as good as new.
posted by katrielalex at 4:36 AM on April 13, 2015

My first thought is go to the Apple Store and get your computer fixed. I spilled some water on my Macbook Air a little bit back, and it cost about $600 to get it fixed.
posted by General Malaise at 7:57 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you can stand the idea of a PC, used Thinkpads are pretty cheap on eBay, and if they are still in warranty (either the default one year or if the original owner bought a 3 year), you can both immediately send it in for any necessary repairs and buy another couple of years at an eminently reasonable price.

My boss spends less than $500 every few years and always has a nice in warranty X series to show for it. You get a real laptop for Chromebook pricing.
posted by wierdo at 8:31 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can get a flat-fee repair from an Apple Store for between $300-600, depending on what grade of repair is required. It might be as cheap as $300, if the case and screen are intact. That option would be well within budget and let you keep using a Mac without going refurbished.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:45 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have the same model, with upgraded RAM and a solid state hard drive. I do a lot of photoshop and design and find it works REALLY well, and has the ports I need.

That's a long way of suggesting you fix yours. If you have any leftover money (compared to buying new) do more RAM (it really made a difference) and really, an SSD drive if you can at all. It's the best upgrade I've ever made to any computer in terms of noticeable speed increase.

I think this model still has a bunch of useful years left in it.
posted by cccorlew at 10:28 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can get a flat-fee repair from an Apple Store for between $300-600.

My husband poured a cup of coffee into his Macbook Air just a few months ago. The repair was estimated at $800 with no guarantee, and in fact low likelihood, of success.
posted by rada at 10:50 AM on April 13, 2015

My husband poured a cup of coffee into his Macbook Air just a few months ago. The repair was estimated at $800 with no guarantee, and in fact low likelihood, of success.

Huh, yesterday they said that mine was pretty much toast after a full cup of coffee; when I asked if I was better off just buying a new one they said that the extent of the damage meant that they had to replace so many parts that I was effectively getting a new computer for the cost of the flat fee repair. I agree with cccorlew; take it in for a repair quote and since you seem to indicate that your screen is fine you can probably get it repaired for $300-400, upgrade the insides, and stay within budget.

If you can stand the idea of a PC, used Thinkpads are pretty cheap on eBay...My boss spends less than $500 every few years and always has a nice in warranty X series to show for it.

Lenovo also has a great refurb store with tons of models; the X series is in mid-$600's right now, for instance. I don't know why you would go through eBay or Craigslist off of someone else's warranty when every manufacturer offers refurbs with full warranties. I imagine they cost a little more but it just seems easier to me.
posted by good lorneing at 12:57 PM on April 13, 2015

Response by poster: thanks all. I am going to try the genius bar and see what they say... based on past experience with water-damaged macs (last time it was a bowl of cereal, apparently I'm clumsy at breakfast) I had just assumed it was a lost cause. But the screen works and the hard drive seems OK, so maybe I can get away with a less expensive and potentially effective repair.
posted by annie o at 7:03 PM on April 13, 2015

Just to clarify, I was referring to Lenovo's warranty, not some third party.
posted by wierdo at 8:42 AM on April 15, 2015

Response by poster: So in case anyone was wondering, repairs were quoted at around $800 by the Genius Bar, which isn't worth it for a 2011 computer. Still have not made a decision, and am still using the iPad/mooching off my husband's computer as needed. So.. remains unresolved. Turns out the iPad pretty much does what I need, at least right now, and there are enough actual computers around that I can get away with not replacing the Mac Pro right away.
posted by annie o at 7:30 PM on April 26, 2015

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