Stuff We Love: The MacBook Pro, a Hassle-Free Laptop
About three years ago, after a lifetime of owning Windows-based PCs and having them break or suffer other problems, I bought a MacBook Pro.
I'm knocking on wood as I write this, but the Mac hasn't failed me yet, and I consider it one of my best purchases — after my wife's engagement ring and my car. I don't expect it to last nearly as long as the others, but it's doing what it's supposed to do: provide dependable computing power that's easy to use.
Why I Chose My MacBook Pro
I needed a new computer when the desktop PC from Dell that we owned at home kept crashing and always seemed to get viruses, no matter how many anti-virus protection programs I used. The end came after the third visit from a computer technician, when I realized it would be cheaper to buy an expensive Mac than to buy an inexpensive PC that might break down again and cost me repair bills.
For the work I do on a computer — writing and editing — I don't need much computing power. I'm not a techie, and I don't have much of an idea about how much memory, processor speed, and other features I'll need on a computer. I started by doing my research where it made the most sense: the Apple store. I told the clerk what my needs were, and within 20 minutes I knew which computer I wanted.
My main goal was to get a laptop computer that wouldn't break down, had a good reputation for reliability, and was easy to use. PCs are advertised as easy to use, too, and they are up to a point with Windows, but they didn't seem intuitive to use. A Mac met all of my criteria.
Because I wanted an anti-glare screen, I had to either buy it online or over the phone, as it wasn't available in the store. I called an Apple customer service representative later and bought one after about an hour of configuring it to suit me.
What's Great About It
For a product that most people didn't need 20 years ago, owning a computer has become a part of everyday life. While the PC market is declining and giving way to tablets, as someone who used to write school reports on a typewriter, writing on the physical keyboard of a laptop computer is a lot easier than typing on a tablet.
Like any laptop computer, my MacBook Pro is portable, and with a Wi-Fi connection I can easily work from anywhere in the world. I won't bore you with the technical specifications of the MacBook Pro I bought, but here are the things I like best about it.
It Has Everything I Need
If you have one or more Apple products (I have an iPhone and iPod Touch) that store music, a calendar, podcasts, photos, email, and other things, an Apple computer can make running them and syncing them much easier. A PC can do some of that too, but the MacBook Pro keeps it all under one roof.
I also considered buying a MacBook Air — mainly because it's so light — but I opted for the Pro because it offered more storage at a cheaper price and had the fastest speed. I don't want to be slowed down by a computer while working, and the Pro seemed to be better for work use and had the power to run more programs in the future.
It's Easy to Use
One fear I had before buying it was that there would be a steep learning curve, and I'd never know how to use everything on it. For $350, my fear was put aside with AppleCare, a protection program that not only extended the warranty for three years, but also got me phone help for that time. I also bought Apple's One to One for $100, which gave me an hour at a time of direct instruction from an Apple expert at an Apple store.
Group sessions were also included in that year of instruction I bought, and I found that after less than a dozen trips to the store, I had enough instruction and was ready to go it alone. I still haven't gotten around to learning everything on my MacBook Pro that I'd like to (I'm still trying to figure out the video software, for example), but I've found everything to be easy to use. Everything seems intuitive and easy to find, making it a joy to work on.
So far my MacBook Pro hasn't suffered any viruses and hasn't crashed. I've heard of Mac owners having their hard drives crash after only a few years of ownership, causing them to lose things they didn't back up. My three-year warranty expires very soon, which should leave me to believe that it will crash the day after the warranty expires. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
What the MacBook Pro Compares To
The MacBook Air may be the closest comparison, though that may not be a fair one because it's in the Apple family. Again, I don't know all of the technical specifications of each, but Apple has an extensive comparison chart to see which fits your needs best.
Since I've bought mine, Apple has come out with the retina display to make the image sharper, so there's always going to be something better out there a year or so after you buy a computer.
For the Windows equivalent of the MacBook Pro, the world is wide open and depends on your tastes. You'll likely get more computing power with a PC for the same amount of money, or an equal computer for a lot less money in a PC, but I don't think it will ever be as enjoyable, dependable, and easy to use as a MacBook Pro.
Who the MacBook Pro Is Best For
For someone who wants a workhorse of a computer to work on that will meet their future computing needs, the MacBook Pro is hard to beat. It has a lot of storage, has high performance, and will last for years. If you're coming from the PC world, as I was, and want an Apple computer that's reliable, can do all of the work you need, and looks and feels good doing it, this is worth the money.
How It Could Be Better
Computers are always getting faster and lighter, so no matter what you buy today, in a few years you could probably buy something faster with more memory and less weight at a cheaper price.
I have no regrets about buying my MacBook Pro, and I hope it continues working well for many years to come. My only wish is that it was lighter. Mine weighs 5.6 pounds, compared to 2.96 pounds for the heaviest MacBook Air. That's almost twice as much weight for a computer that is heavier because it has a hard disk drive. The Air is so light you'll think you're holding a paperback book.
What They Don't Tell You in the Manual
None of the sales people told me how hot the computer would get. It was a question I asked during my research, and they all told me it wouldn't overheat. So far it hasn't overheated and automatically turned off, as my PC used to do once in awhile, but the bottom does get hot to the touch after only a few hours of use.
This may be normal and nothing to worry about. I don't know. Maybe it's because I have a plastic protective cover on it (with air holes), and sitting on a desk or table leaves no room for air to circulate. I'm on my computer for four or so hours per day, so I expect it to get warm, but the heat it generates makes me think something could go wrong.
If you're used to using an external mouse to move around the screen, as I was, then a wireless Magic Mouse is a good investment. Just be sure to have plenty of rechargeable batteries for it, since they deplete quickly.
Bottom Line Recommendation
I'm now a lifetime Apple customer, a choice I would have made many years ago if I had the foresight to realize that paying so much for an Apple computer is worthwhile in the long run. Given the work I do, it's probably more computing power than I need, but I expect it will meet my future needs. You could probably save some money, and weight, with a MacBook Air, but I think the Pro can be a longtime member of your work and social lives.
Where to Get Yours
Apple.com, the company's website, is the best place to start to research what you need. You can either buy it there online, do it over the phone if you want to talk it out with someone, or buy at a store.
Best Buy and other local stores also sell Apple products. Because Apple controls most of its prices, you'll rarely find prices much lower than you would at an Apple store. However, the stores may have sales or include extras. They may also have higher pressure sales tactics, while I've found the sales people at Apple stores to be more interested in first helping you find the computer that's right for you.
And, of course, Amazon.com sells the MacBook Pro. I've seen some deals here, ranging from $50 to $150 off regular prices.
A MacBook Pro costs from about $1,200 for a 13-inch laptop to $2,800 for a 15-inch with retina display. An extended warranty, classes, computer upgrades and extras such as a mouse cost extra.
Are you a PC user or Mac user?