Buy a MacBook now or wait two months.
August 24, 2007 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Should I wait for Leopard or take the plunge now? Buying a MacBook.

My reliable Compaq laptop running Linux finally died a graceful death at the age of 7. I've pretty much settled on a MacBook but am considering waiting till October for the release of Leopard. How stable are Apple's initial releases? Will it be one or two more releases till Leopard is truly stable for use on a laptop?

Also, while I have the floor, one thing I'd like to be able to do is use Parallels/VMWare/dual boot to run XP for Quicken and the .NET development tools. Is 2GB enough for this or should I seriously consider getting a MacBook Pro so that I can add more RAM? The additional cost of the Pro is a bit much for my budget and I'd rather stick to the MacBook if I can.

posted by beowulf573 to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To address your second question, I'm running 3GB of RAM in my MacBook. Otherworld Computing sells a kit that will allow you to install and use all three gigs, even though it technically should only allow for two. Don't know if that will make your decision easier or not, but thought you might want to know it's possible.
posted by unclejeffy at 8:32 AM on August 24, 2007

You could wait until they start giving out the coupons for Leopard with new hardware, if they haven't done that yet. Then you would get the current stable release installed, and the new release for free.
posted by smackfu at 8:34 AM on August 24, 2007

Wait. Both the Macbooks and the Pros are mid cycle at the moment. I think we're going to see new hardware for leopard, but who knows for sure? My hope is that we will see an ultra-portable version of these guys in the fall. If you think you don't want to be beta testing new technology for Apple with your money though, you might just want to go for it now.
posted by zackola at 8:40 AM on August 24, 2007

Are you a student or can you get the education discount in some way? If so, the buy a Mac get an iPod promo they are running now makes it a no brainer to buy now. The new MacBooks can go up to 3GB as mentioned above.
posted by AaRdVarK at 8:44 AM on August 24, 2007

If you wait you'll probably at least see an upgrade to the processor - Intel is releasing a speed bump to the C2Ds September 1 and I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the MB line soon. The chipset most probably won't change, since they just switched to Merom recently.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:49 AM on August 24, 2007

Apple's 1.0 products have a reputation for not always being quite ready for prime time, but it's misleading to think of Leopard as an 'initial' release - the OS X releases aren't like new versions of Windows; they're much more evolutionary and incremental. I was using Tiger from day 1, and found it rock-solid.

If you really want the new features from Leopard, wait - but it's (probably) not going to be a world-shaking change. Slightly more relevant are hardware improvements - Apple's historically updated their consumer laptops every April and October, almost never deviating and even then not by much. If you like how things are, go for it; if you don't have a problem waiting a couple of months, you may as well.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:50 AM on August 24, 2007

Why do you want to boot to XP to run Quicken?
posted by ahughey at 9:02 AM on August 24, 2007

It sounds like it would be worth it to wait a couple months to maximize my money's worth, specially if they come out with new hardware. Given how infrequently I buy laptops, I'd like to make the most of it, even if it's only an incremental update.

Mainly I wanted confirmation to fight the "new toy, new toy...must buy now" impulse.

The ability to upgrade to 3GB is good to know, thanks.

Re: Quicken, I already have a Windows version and I'm cheap. Most like I'll just remotely connect to my desktop to use Quicken given I usually only do this at home, but it's nice to know what my options are.

posted by beowulf573 at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2007

When I bought my MacBook last year, it actually came with a version of Quicken. It didn't seem to be crippled.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 9:20 AM on August 24, 2007

It sounds like it would be worth it to wait a couple months to maximize my money's worth

Well, you could say that to eternity. Unless money is not a problem it's always best to wait until you simply can't wait anymore. There's always something a 'couple months' away that would maximize your money's worth.
posted by justgary at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2007

I had a computer die an awful death two weeks ago, and decided to just pick up a Macbook (on the education discount, with the free iPod).

I justified it with the thinking that Apple's 10.x.0 releases aren't always that stable, I was going for the lower end hardware anyway so any speed bump wasn't going to give me much, and I needed a working computer right then.

I probably would have held off if I didn't need a computer immediately, but 2+ months was just too long to wait. If you can wait that long it's probably worth it, but my guess--from experience--is that you're not going to regret it much if you buy now.
posted by togdon at 9:24 AM on August 24, 2007

Buying an OS in the first six months of its release isn't much better than paying the company to be a beta tester. smackfu's idea is a good one if you need a new laptop now -- wait until they sell Macbooks with a coupon for a free Leopard upgrade, then wait a few months after Leopard's release to use it.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:30 AM on August 24, 2007

Normally I ignore release cycles but given October is only five weeks away, I thought it might be prudent to see what's coming out. I like the idea of waiting until the Leopard coupons are available. A new smaller laptop would be nice, but I went to Fry's to look at the current MacBooks and they're acceptable.

I'm not under any immediate time pressure; I'm borrowing my wife's laptop so I can browse and check mail over breakfast. In the mean time I can just walk all the way upstairs (wah!) and use my desktop.

Unfortunately I don't qualify for the educational discount.
posted by beowulf573 at 10:16 AM on August 24, 2007

I run VS.NET on a Macbook with 2G RAM. It's fine.
posted by mkultra at 10:19 AM on August 24, 2007

There's always something a 'couple months' away that would maximize your money's worth.

True, but the Mac product cycle is more reliable than the PC one in this regard. Buy now and you get iLife '08; buy in a month and you get that with a Leopard coupon; buy in October and you get Leopard pre-installed, and possibly a hardware bump.
posted by holgate at 10:52 AM on August 24, 2007

It's been my experience (and jives with what I've heard online) that the Mac version of Quicken sucks. I don't know if the PC version is supposed to be better or not (I suspect it is). I have so many years invested with Quicken on the Mac at this point and its so much more convenient not to boot into Windows that I probably won't be changing anytime soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if lots of Mac users wanted to boot into Windows for money management particularly if they were coming from Windows to begin with.
posted by willnot at 11:05 AM on August 24, 2007

When I bought my MacBook last year, it actually came with a version of Quicken. It didn't seem to be crippled.

True, except for the fact that Quicken crashes any time you try to run reports or do anything with mutual funds.
posted by oaf at 11:21 AM on August 24, 2007

I have a new Macbook Pro as a (primarily) Windows Vista / Virtual Machine / development laptop, and it's wonderful and fast. Faster, thinner, and lighter than nearly every other laptop I found (size and weight was an important factor in my selection process). Any update to the platform in the next few months will be incremental, at best.

Incidentally, Apple's OS releases are generally not as bug-laden as Microsoft for one simple reason: Apple knows, with few exceptions, what hardware components will be used to run the OS. Stability is a hallmark of new Apple OS releases, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy 10.5 when it comes out.

As an aside, I will soon be "living" on the OS X side, and using VMWare Fusion to run my Windows apps, dev apps and VMs. After a brief experimental period doing this, performance was pretty darn good.
posted by Merdryn at 11:34 AM on August 24, 2007

Why do you want to boot to XP to run Quicken?

Well, one reason would be that if you have been using Quicken for Windows for any appreciable amount of time, you will lose a lot of data converting your file to Quicken for the Mac.
posted by harkin banks at 11:50 AM on August 24, 2007

If new Macbooks come out in October, refurbished "old" ones - today's model - will probably be cheaper. Not sure if they'd hook you up with a Leopard coupon, though.

Maybe this is another option to consider, just to complicate the decision for you a little more...
posted by altcountryman at 12:34 PM on August 24, 2007

As with the iBooks before them, Macbooks are beset with hardware problems Apple is not copping to, but thousands of users are complaining about. In my personal experience, new Macbooks (mine and those of many friends/students/family members) *all* have problems with random shutdown, occasional kernel panics that require a reboot, SMC controller problems, etc. Weirdly, my own -- which had been failing to go to sleep, overheating, and shutting down every 3d or 4th time I closed the lid -- seems to have healed itself after about 4 months. It also had a complete HD failure in the second week (and this was the 160GB drive). It's a wonderful machine when it works right (which it is at the moment) and I can run XP/Paralllels OK with 2GB. But the idea that the Macbook is a currently stable mid-cycle product is wishful thinking. Literally, I have not seen one that has been perfectly reliable and healthy. And to top it off, there are all the battery problem Apple is also not copping to.

That's not really advice, except that the longer you wait for a new Macbook, the better the odds you won't have a bad logic board, SMC controller, bad battery, etc. etc. I don't know that the MBPs are any better, but anecdotally that has been the case in my world.

/pissed off fanboy, who luckily doesn't pay for his own computers
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:53 PM on August 25, 2007

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