Buying a Macbook Pro

Buying a Macbook Pro…Was It A Good Decision?

Derek Travel Gear 116 Comments

Buying a Macbook Pro

Yes, it was.

Why?

My Macbook Pro works. Simple as that.

It’s efficient, stable and it’s infinitely more user-friendly than any other laptop I’ve ever owned, which includes an HP, a couple of Acer machines and a Sony Vaio. And my Macbook is also incredibly fun to use, something that, for someone who spends as much time online as I do, makes a major difference. When everything looks and works perfectly, tackling a list of 50 ‘Things to Do’ each day, regardless of how boring or uninspiring each task may be, is a complete breeze, an enjoyable breeze actually.

The Macbook I settled on, after three weeks of research and ten lengthy visits to the Apple Store, is the 13.3” inch Macbook Pro with Retina. It has 500 GB of memory, 8 GB of RAM and a 3.0 Ghz dual-core i7 processor. I bought it refurbished directly from Apple’s online store for $1650 USD, a price tag that definitely comes with a painful sting, but when compared to buying a Macbook Pro with Retina, non-refurbished version (which goes for $2199), the $1650 actually looks quite attractive. That’s how I justified it anyway!

I am clearly aware that I could have bought a Windows laptop with the same or better specifications for less money but still, no Windows laptop that I have tested (and I tested dozens during my research), comes even close to the feel of the Macbook. The Macbook is just such a smooth, impressively fine-tuned machine that I actually get excited to turn it on each day, especially considering that it only takes a half of a second to wake it up from its sleep mode. And all of this makes it worth dishing out some extra money for, at least to me.

With that said, I still stand by my earlier claims that my previous laptop, the Acer Aspire Timeline-X AS1830T-6651, is almost as good as it gets when it comes to travel laptops, for most people. The power, speed, weight and price of the Acer are all more than ideal, creating what can only be considered an undeniably impressive package. But for me, these days, I need something a bit more powerful, a bit more ‘professional’, a bit, well, smoother and, in all honesty, enjoyable to use.

And that’s exactly what I landed with my Macbook.

I turn it on and it does everything it should in a way that allows me to get more done in a shorter period of time and to enjoy getting that stuff done as well. Based on that alone, buying a Macbook Pro was a wise work decision for me and I really am quite happy that I made the change.

But I haven’t been fully converted yet. I still prefer my Android phone over an iPhone!

What do you think? Is it Mac or Windows for you? Care to share why you prefer one over the other?


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Comments 116

  1. Mariaam Scott

    A query.
    I intend to buy MAC book Pro 13″ 2015 version, however I have heard that we need to shell additional money for software installations, after buying the laptop.
    Is it true?
    I need help on the details as I have always used Windows PC and Dell core i7 laptop. I am worried about extra expenses surprises.

  2. Earl Hall

    Earl,
    I have been agonizing over this decision for three weeks. I have both a Macbook Air and a Macbook Pro 13 Retina display and will return one. Just when i think I have made a decision I reconsider. The weight and battery life of the Air is very enticing. I really can’t see big difference in the displays. I think there must be something wrong with my eyes. The Pro has 8mg of memory and the HDMI port (I know I can get dongle for the Air), as well as the updated touchpad. There is a $350 dollar difference for me. It isn’t the money, I just like the Air for its battery and it weight, but then…
    So anyway, my name is also Earl, and having been unable to make my own decision I take this article by another Earl as a cosmic sign.
    Thanks!

  3. Bill Gryani

    It was the biggest mistake I did in buying MaC pro 15 Inch. Not good value for money , parts very expensive , and bad service . No reliable method to send your complaints through Apple website , when I did , I didn’t get any feedback . I bought the computer Sep. 2012 , Sep. 2014 exactly start to give problems , when I sent it to the authorised service provider they returned it back after one month , they changed a defective part , they didn’t charge me because it was manufacturing problem, at the end of October I sent it again to the service because of the bad performance , In Nov. the call me to take it , (second day I return it back because of the same problems ) , finally they call me that I need to change the hard drive ??? I am waiting may be I will receive it in 2016 , the computer is disaster the service is tragedy , it is was the worst computer in my professional life . Doesn’t worth the money I paid for it .

  4. EetuG

    I bought MacBook pro mid 2012 in year 2012 and it was worth it. Still works fine and intel core i5 and 500gb hard drive still is good. And MacBook Pro have best design.

  5. Rodolfo

    Hello Earl!

    As a photographer i obviously prefer a mac than a windows. All my life i used windows, but after using a mac for the first time, oh man, that was freaking awesome! It’s all better, faster, easier, etc. buuut… the price is fucking high. I’m gonna change my mac this mont for a 13″ i7 with 1tb to work but also to surf on web and have fun. I’m brazilian, so as you must know i will not buy here cause it’s the price of a soul euaheuaheu Really enjoyed your blog, keep with the good work and good luck!

  6. Lou

    Hi Earl,
    Thanks for such a well balanced and informative article. Thanks also for inviting people to share comments and for responding to so many of them.

    I am about to make the switch from PC to Mac. I’ve used PCs for many years, but a few weeks ago, my 18 month old Asus laptop stopped working. That (and my dislike of Windows 8) sent me to the Apple Store. I’m torn, however, between getting a 13″ MacBook Air (i7 Haswell cpu, 8 GB ram, 256 PCIe SSD) or a 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display (i5 Haswell cpu, 8 GB ram, 256 PCIe SSD). Either would meet all my needs. My angst is about the Retina Display. Although it looks awesome, I have seen posts on discussion boards that imply that many people have had problems with image retention (“ghosting”) on their retina displays and have subsequently had to bring them back to get a new screen, sometimes more than once. Have you encounter this? You’ve had yours for a while now, and have probably interacted with many other people with MBPs with retina screens. Do you still recommend them?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Lou – I haven’t had that problem with mine and I still love my retina version. And I actually haven’t met anyone else that had that problem who has the same machine or even the newer version.

  7. ONA

    My friend purchased a new , shiny , pretty Macbook Pro about a year ago . It looks pretty but it is not worth it. My old laptop hp is still working fine ( 8 years old) without any problems and after many many hours of heavily usage , no issues .She has had numerous issues with her Macbook Pro. Also it gets super hot. So no thanks…I am pretty happy with my new to me (used) Thinkpad . Macbooks cannot handle even a few drops of liquid on them ……..literally……………………My thinkpad has spill resistant keyboard and feels much better to type ……..better software compatibility, much easier and cheaper upgrades and a lot of money saved!!!!!!!

    1. Denim

      You are right on with your comment. I think Macbook is way overpriced. For an i7, 8GB RAM, and 500GB, you can get a Windows laptop for $700 brand new (not refurb).

  8. Foqrul

    Lately, I’ve thought of purchasing a new macbook for my work which will put an end to the long relationship with windows. Your review helps me a lot to get one step closer to buyng my first macbook.

  9. Ashinnabash

    I used to think that macbooks are way too much money for just a computer 2199 for a laptop when I could buy a car for that or even pay down on a house! But after about a month on using this macbook at my job I fell in love. I must get one. Any Windows laptop rite now is not even in the subject for buying ESPECIALLY windows 8 you can see in windows 8 they’re trying to become user friendly a little like apple but pretty annoying. Apple in my opinion has the best user interface they can’t please everyone but that doesn’t stop them from trying they sure pleased me. 🙂

  10. Shruthi

    Hi,

    Thanks for replying. But, what if it gives any trouble in the future? Do they provide any additional support for the refurbished items? Say, free troubleshooting every time we take our macbook pro with issues to the Apple store?

  11. Shruthi

    Hi Earl,

    Was just wondering if you found the refurbished macbook perfectly fine? What’s the difference between the Refurbished and a new macbook pro? Thanks!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Shruthi – My refurbished mac has been excellent. Generally, a refurbished mac is one that was sent back due to a problem but they fix the problem and make sure the laptop looks and works just like new. And that’s it…a perfectly good computer for a cheaper price.

  12. Marshall

    my HP has fallen apart and has been sent back to HP several times and the parts don’t line up right at all. WHen I question HP they tell me good enough? Really? I boght a MBA as a test pc so far as advertised. I’m still a Androind/Chrome dude with home PC with major files etc on a custome PC but really using the cloud to back up all pictures and devices along with dropbox for stuff I neeed at a anap of a finger. I’m hoping that this one laptop will fit into my echo system seemlessly as i’m ot changing the rest. so far so good………

  13. Debbie

    Thanks for this post, I really appreciate all the feedback on this. I have had my MacBook Pro for about 3-4 years after always having Dell Laptops.

    The things that I like about the MacBook Pro
    TECHNICAL SUPPORT at Apple ROCKS!! I have had to deal with technical support with Dell and what a nightmare…not once but several times. The resolution time is so fast with Apple. There were times with Dell support that the issue was referred back to many times. Extremely irritating to have to call Dell over and over to try to get some help. However I do have to say that Dell was extremely good about replacing my laptop when they couldn’t resolve the issue it just took forever.

    MacBook Pro I have only had one problem and that was when I had to buy a new battery. Considering how hard I work my MacBook I think that is very impressive.

    MacBook Pro has never gotten a virus. My Dell laptop I had to keep expensive Norton Security top of the line on it to keep the virus’ off. You should have seen the cleanup time involved with the laptop.

    The only thing I do not like about the MacBook Pro is that I liked the way windows handled my pictures. It was a lot easier to keep my photos organized.

    Any how that is my two cents. For older people who are not as technologically savvy as younger people a Mac product is a lot less frustrating.

  14. Joakim Brättemark

    When I was to buy my first computer in the late 90:s I was into gaming and wanted a large portion of various software and didn’t feel comfortable choosing a Mac. I got an IPhone in 2010 and an IPad in 2012, great products ! For computer I have always had PC:s For me they suit my budget better. I work my much with Pro Tools creating music even thou Apple have always been a musicians favorite I think when it comes to creating music you’ll do just as fine with a PC. The real issue for me was to get 8 GB ram because I stream lots of data in real time. So a Samsung laptop did the job for me, I think it’s model name is V3 and the buttons and keyboard design are really close to a Mac Book. Fell free to visit my My Space page. One of the songs is actually made on a friends Mac 🙂

  15. James

    if you seek for a performance, who would consider buying macbook? Both CPU n GPU on mac are shit. It’s just a waste of money. Just for a design, thats all

  16. Erik

    I was almost certain that I was going to get a windows machine because I just didn’t want to learn a new operating system and because of the price tag. However, I ended up getting a macbook pro! A big reason was the anti virus software that you don’t have to install. If I’m gonna have my laptop for approx 5-10 yrs, that’s $500-1000 in savings right there! Not to mention the exceptional build quality, great warranty and CS, and overall quality. I totally understand the argument against a Mac, but in my opinion a Mac is the way to go

  17. Shelley

    I JUST made the switch as well to a Mac Book Pro. i bought the 13.3 inch screen with no retina display- again for cost reasons. Best move I ever made. I was so turned off by windows 8, that while trying to find a laptop with Windows 7, the prices were more expensive than a Mac. I guess Microsoft knows everyone wants 7 still!
    So I bought a Mac. And I love it. It does everything it is supposed to do.
    I also love my iphone. LOVE IT!

  18. Morten B. N.

    Hey Earl.
    It’s nice to read that others have had the same happy feeling, after switching over to Mac.
    I myself bought a Macbook Pro 13″ mid 2012 a couple of months ago, and I have never been so happy about using a computer -when daily stuff needs to be done.
    The only downside about the Mac, is the lack of freedom when it comes to tinkering with the software. You have to search long and hard to find info about commands and such, on the internet (maybe I just didn’t look hard enough).

    Therefore I do still own a PC, as a secondary and gaming machine.

  19. Nerd

    I have been using Windows laptops for a while now and have decided to switch over to a Mac.Some of my friends told me that not all the applications(other than games) which work fine on Windows laptop work on a Macbook. Is that true?

  20. Johnny Witt

    I like a Mac because they are TOUGH. To wit, my Family Mac has been dropped numerous times on hard surfaces, jumped on & sat on by my kids, and EVEN PISSED ON!
    Yes, my 4 year old when he was 3 actually saw fit to whip it out and pissed all over my open MacBook Pro when I left the room. The thing is still going strong as I type this now.

  21. Katy

    Looks like someone drank the Apple Kool-Aid.
    Just kidding (but not really :))
    I’m glad you enjoy the computer…Personally I will always favor a PC, but that is just me.

  22. Brad

    Once you go Mac, you never go back. People that haven’t owned one wouldn’t understand. If Mac was terrible and overpriced, the company would have gone out of business years ago, still one of the largest ones in the the world, and still climbing! Converted from PC to Mac after taking a video editing course. Now I get work done Mac instead of working on my PC.

    1. Dave

      I went straight back to PC after one MacBook Pro – expensive piece of kit that was unusable within 12 months due to the spinning beachball of doom. As for my iPhone, it never even made phone calls or texts reliably. Never going back to Apple again, they just don’t work.

  23. Global Nomads

    We’ve seen it happening with Macs a few times in poor countries. Perhaps they look just too good and shiny to resist for thieves. A crappy and dusty noname laptop with a few missing keys attracts no one.

    Travel and business don’t fit together so well, that is why we keep them them separate and don’t do any business. We gave our businesses up when we left Finland in 2004 to travel the world. Thanks to that we have now the luxury of having endless amount of time for doing nothing useful and no urge to be efficient.

    For you the Mac is probably best solution; with your travel style the risks of losing it is not that high and computer will not get exposed to hostile environmental conditions. When we were still in business, we used top-notch equipment too. Don’t let it out of your sight!

  24. Global Nomads

    Generally speaking carrying around expensive hardware around attracts unwanted attention and invites thieves. That makes Macs are no good for travelling. Showing off in a clean and safe office environment is another story. On the road the cheapest possible junk works the best and it is way less annoying when it gets stuck with sand in a desert or wet from humidity in a jungle.

    1. Wandering Earl

      @Global Nomads – I tend to think that’s more of a myth than reality. There really are very few times that I’m going to pull out my Macbook on a local bus or at a train station or in the middle of the street. I use my laptop in my hotel room or in a cafe with wifi, which are usually clean and safe places. And if you’re trying to grow a business while being on the road, the cheapest junk is not the best as I need something that I can count on every single day. It’s not about showing off, it’s about getting things done efficiently with the limited time I have while traveling.

  25. SleeplessInKL

    Hey Earl! You forgot to mention how crisp and clear the Retina display is! Switching back to ‘normal’ displays makes it feel…so weird.

    If you really think about it, a Mac (without Retina) is not that expensive if you consider the cost of the software that already comes pre-bundled with it. I love how, with a new Mac, you can just start using it straightaway without having to worry about installing the normal stuff you use on a daily basis or having to install drivers for other hardware.

    Best of all, no BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) for Macs! 😉

    As for the phone, stick with your Android. The iPhone just doesn’t cut it!

    Mimi

  26. Maxine

    Couldn’t agree more Earl. I’ve recently got a 13 inch Macbook Air and it’s the best computer I’ve ever owned – everything just works 🙂

    Shame on you though Earl, it’s time to jump on the iPhone bandwagon 😉

  27. Sam @ Travellingking.com

    Love windows but preferring Macs lately well apple products!
    I despise Acer laptops with every bone in my body, one problem after another.
    Would love to try out a Mac as my newt laptop as I’m not sure it would do all the same things I like to do on a Windows computer.. ?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sam – It’s always interesting to hear different experiences. I’ve had two Acer machines and never had a problem, loved them both and found them to be far better than my much pricier Sony Vaio!

  28. Clare Appleyard

    LOVE, love, love my MacBook. Converted from PC about 20 months ago after I drowned my last PC laptop in tea and insurance paid out cash. Topped up the claim with about $200 and got a MacBook Pro 13″ and have not looked back. Fast, efficient, smooth and easy to use. Starts up and shuts down super-fast. Have dropped it twice and it still works perfectly. Unfortunately it’s only a 320GB harddrive with 4GB ram, but it’s good enough for what I do.

  29. Daniel

    I just bought an IMac based on some reviews on internet (including Earl’s) and hope to get started soon because the transformation from windows to OS X lion does not go as smooth as I thought it would go. What a difference it is! (navigate, pages, numbers, …). I hope I will not regret my decision….

  30. Megan

    I feel the same way about my MacBook Pro. It’s just so dang pleasant to use. And, I actually just made the switch from Android to iPhone earlier today. It’s taking some getting used to, and the customization limitations are already irritating, but fingers crossed it was a good choice!

  31. Yvonne

    Hey Earl – I’ve been more than happy with Mac for a while, but recently went from Macbook to Macbook Air, and boy is this ever light. We’re going to be taking next year off to backpack in Asia (although I don’t think we’ll be able to hit all the countries you have!) and the key for us as been keeping things light. We figure between my Air and iPad, the two of us will be connected. There are still some compatibility issues we run across at times, but I think there is now almost always a Mac version for software. BTW – was intrigued by your trip to Mexico… we’ve been living here for three years now and love it so glad to see you had a good experience.

  32. Jon @MrMIlitaryMoney

    My wife and I had both had the same MacBooks for four years now. Hers a bit older and finally needs to be replaced. It still works fine but the hard drives and memory are older specification and are starting to struggle with multitasking. Mine still works great but I have to rely on external hard drives for storage.

  33. Tish

    I got my first Mac back in 2005 (Powerbook G4) which I still have in my closet. Works fine just needed and update to keep up with all the new websites and programs that have come out. So I got a MacBook Pro last February (2012) and I’ll never buy a Windows again. Eight years strong as a mac user!

    I have an Android phone…easier to customized. But I own 3 ipods (well 2 now, cause an ex won’t return my original ipod) but Mac’s are some of the best products ever. I had that Powerbook G4 from 2005-2012. And still a good computer…

  34. Jennifer

    Im interested in buying a mac book, but they do come with a hefty price tag and im not sure whether its just apple lover hype or whether they are truely faster and work better than other laptops that have a higher spec. I’d like to borrow one for a week to try it out really!! I’m currently using a HP i5 – ive had it for probably 4 years but its become pretty sluggish recently.

  35. Chris

    I recently acquired an Acer Aspire S7 and can’t wait to get on the road with it! Battery life aside (3-5hrs), it’s a speedy, lightweight ultrabook with touch screen to boot. It’s lighter than some tablets!

  36. Gerd

    Sorry, but Apple nowadays is all about design, a lifestyle product and way too expensive. And MacOS, well, don’t get me started… Apple is just an evil, overrated company 😀
    But I don’t like Windows either and switched to Linux long time ago. It offers everything I need and I got a stable system for free. The only reason I sometimes still have to use Windows (XP) is audio processing. Unfortunately there is still no software for linux that can compete with Wavelab or Ableton Live. But for everything else, it is perfect. It’s fast, stable, reliable and easy to use. Even for me, and I’m definitely NOT a computer-geek.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gerd – For me, my Apple is perfect and that’s the most important thing. Clearly, based on the comments of this post, there is no one ‘right’ answer as many people feel very strongly about this debate, regardless which one they prefer. But as long as a person is happy with their decision, that’s all that matters!

    1. Meagan

      LOL. My HP died on the first day so I took it back and bought a Mac cause the stores were out of the HP. Love the Mac, but would have also loved the HP if it had worked. I guess everything you buy there could be a chance of having a dud.

  37. Jason Eyermann

    I’ve recently bought the 15″ macbook pro. Except i didn’t get the retina version in order to save some money. You have a very quick computer, but the speed would really only be used if you did something like video editing. Otherwise I thought the mac air would have been many times better for a traveller. My other little issue with taking my mac anywhere, I feel that if people see the big apple logo on the back they will more likely try to steal it as they will know that it is worth alot of money. So i normally reluctantly take a PC. Maybe i’m just being paranoid.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jason – I am starting to do more video editing, which is why I went with the faster computer. And I can understand your hesitation with taking the laptop with you on your travels but these days, even Macs are common enough in most parts of the world where it doesn’t stand out as much. At least that’s what I hope for 🙂

  38. Cheryl

    Good choice Earl on the Mac. Neither Mac or PC offer all options. Pick what fits into your needs, find that comfort and voila you find yourself enjoying the product and assurance you made a good choice. Plus Apple apps are great, they are always improving their apps and introducing new cutting edge ones (which are not on pc). oh and my mac works, I don’t work on fixing it 🙂

  39. Andy

    Congrats on the Mac, Earl. By now I’ve heard so many good things about that machine that I will have to check them out some day!

    Got a question for everybody who works “on the road”, that is in coffee shops, at kitchen tables and the like…

    How do you guys handle ergonomics? I’m currently working at my kitchen table but I have an office chair that is very comfy and back friendly. This does make a difference, though I still wonder about the long-term effects of constantly staring down at my laptop screen instead of a more neck-friendly solution.

    This would be the ideal setup:
    http://billanddavescocktailhour.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/mouse_pad.gif

    Which is obviously light years away from most a digital nomad’s daily reality.

    While I was abroad a few months ago I usually worked at simple and small tables, sitting on standard chairs. It was okay but at the end of the day I did feel my joints and bones occasionally…

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Andy – That’s an excellent question and to be honest, I just try and find the most comfortable place possible to work. But in the end, it can’t be that great at all using the laptop so much from so many different places that are not designed to be long-term work stations.

      1. Andy

        Thanks, yes, for now I’m countering it by trying to stand and up and walk around every 30 minutes or so as well as doing regular stretching and exercise.

  40. Patty

    Unfortunetly Cindy, George is right. 60 Minutes did a piece and they showed the building with the nets. The factory is a horrible place to work and the stress makes a number of people comit suicide every year.
    That being said i am using an iphone.

  41. Bastiaan

    Hey Earl, Congrats with your new macbook pro! I used to travel around with a small windows netbook (asus). After less then one year it broke down… About 1 year ago I bought a second hand macbook (the white one) in Singapore. Although it’s more then 5 years old it has brought me a steady workenvironment for the last year. I completely fell in love with mac and I use it so much to work on my travelwebsite I just started. It’s starts up faster, it closes down faster and it’s really stable. I remember my windows computer getting stuck all the time. So I definitely prefer a mac!

  42. ToGusDS

    Congrats man, you made a great decision i’ve using my Mac pro for about a year and i can’t be happier, it’s amazing.

    I’m sure it’s gonna help you with whatever you have to do.

    Greetings from México.

  43. Tina Klonitsko

    I’m glad you’re enjoying a MacBook Pro! I bought one for myself about 3 years ago, and it’s still going strong. It’s probably been the best laptop that I’ve ever owned. I’ll never completely revert back to PC on the computer front, but I absolutely agree with you about iPhone. You can’t beat an Android.

  44. Keith

    I think you made a great decision! It’s exhausting researching all the choices out there especially when you have to take into account that you’re not just bringing it home but traveling with it abroad.
    Also, more and more Authorized Apple Service providers are popping up all over the place. For example, my iPhone 5 recently died and wouldn’t power on. I live in Romania and was totally convinced I was SOL. But then my fiance found an Apple service place here in Bucharest. We took it in and I was prepared to pay a huge repair service charge. Instead, within 10 minutes, my replacement iPhone 5 was ordered direct from Apple and in my hands in 3 days..at not cost to me! I was totally shocked.

  45. Thomas Dembie

    Excellent choice! I converted a few years ago and can’t see myself going back. I also agree with you on the iPhone front. It seems like lately all I’ve been trying to do is replace native Apple apps with others that provide more customization options.

  46. Steve C

    And Furthermore; Hey Earl, All of what I said above is all about me and how I personally related with that machine. I admit that I’m not the swiftness (but not a complete idiot either) when it comes to figuring out electronic gadgets. You had to know how much heated controversy you’d generate on the pros and cons of owning a PC vs a MAC. There is probably no more hotter topic in all computer conversations! Everyone seems to have a very convincing argument for their choice.

    I have to say our Mac is now back at the factory, as the local store said it would be too expensive to fix and we should just buy a new one. After getting it into their head that what was wrong with it wasn’t anything we did to it, and it only being 2 1/2 years old, they decided to “see what they could do”. We’re waiting.

    Maybe there’s a reason why someone would pay twice as much for a Mac, then run a Windows operating system on it. I’m not convinced that either machines are a higher quality, as they all seem to break down sooner or later. Hell, I’ve had my Nikon camera in for repairs more than once. Lemons happen.

    BTW, the “captcha” thing below has screwed up on both of these comment attempts. (and don’t tell me I shoulda had a Mac) HaHa

  47. Jake

    earl.. your particular topic comes at a perfect time! i was just talking tonite to my friend about getting rid of my current lenovo for a newer/fresher model. i have had this lenovo for only about two years- bought her brand new- but so many times running extremely slow and making me restart time and again. just too many problems. not sure if willing to pay high price that apple requires. any recommendations when looking at my next laptop purchase?
    FYI.. currently living in china but not sure if gonna stay here or return to life in north america. that would make a difference for whether to buy a model here in china or back in states.

  48. Hugh Kimura

    I switched to Mac a couple of years ago…if you think the price is expensive, factor in the total cost of ownership. How much time do you save not installing programs that should be included already (PDF, backup, etc.) and not fixing stuff that should work (can you say BSOD)? Multiply that by how much each hour of your time is worth and the Mac starts to look downright cheap.

    I’ve had a PC since the x386 days, have done it for my job and I can fix any issue on a PC. But why fix stuff, shouldn’t it just work? Mac isn’t perfect, but it is so much better.

  49. Kyle

    Earl, do you find that the 13″ screen is hard to see or work with at all?
    I watch a lot of Netflix on my laptop right now, but it is so big, heavy and clunky that I can never take it with me.. and kind of defeats the purpose of a laptop. I would be willing to make a sacrifice in size and weight for portability, but I’m not sure I can afford the sticker price of anything larger than a 13″ Mac. Suggestions? Love your articles mate!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kyle – It’s hard to say because my last laptop was an 11″ so the 13″ screen seems very large and comfortable to me. If I was going from a larger screen to the 13″, maybe it would seem too small. But in my case, I think the screen is excellent and definitely easy to work with for a long while.

  50. Laura

    Funny, I’m typing this comment on my new MacBook I got about a month ago. It’s my first Apple computer but I already have iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, etc. I ended up with just about the same machine as you, refurbished, retina display, but I went for the 15″ and flash hard drive.

    I totally agree with you – I love using this computer. It’s more stable, powerful and user friendly than any other I’ve used and you’re right – it’s just more fun. I love the retina display and one of the best perks for productivity is how it seamlessly integrates with any of my other devices. I think the points you made about being enjoyable to use make it worth the extra money!

  51. Forest Parks

    I’m a graphic and web designer by trade so I just can’t be pried away from Apple. I have a 2009, 13.3″ macbook pro and most of the time I love it.

    However with an ‘exclusive’ machine comes potential problems.

    Here is a story related to one such problem.

    New Zealand has no official Apple stores, only official Apple resellers, like many parts of the world.

    One morning I fire up the machine and nothing happens. I try a few things, nothing. Open the machine up and try and old harddrive in place of the one in there, nothing! Luckily I have a full time machine backup on an external drive (you MUST keep on top of this) so am not worried about data.

    I jumped on my girlfriends computer and did a lot more testing and research. Narrowed the problem down to the cable that goes from the harddrive to the logic board. Apple stores will switch the cable for a small charge it seems as this is an ongoing problem with my model.

    Fantastic….. However the nearest “Apple” store is in Sydney, I am in Auckland!

    So I go to the Apple reseller and explain the problem. They tell me in order for them to keep their official Apple reseller status they need to do a full diagnoses. Oh and guess what, it costs $250!!!!!!!!! I say but I am 100% sure of the problem. They won’t back down. The same deal exists with the other official resellers and I have to buckle.

    Anyway. The diagnoses takes 2 days and confirms my suspicions. They have to ship a new cable in from Sydney and that takes 2 more days, throw labor on top of that and we are well over $300 now to fix a problem that I already diagnosed and would have been under $20 had their been an ‘Apple’ store. All this happened about a year ago.

    …… Fast-forward to last Monday. I wake up, turn on the mac. SAME PROBLEM! So, I go through diagnostics, check everything and am 100% sure it is that. This time I am in Liverpool, UK. I wander down to the official store, they fit me in for an appointment an hour later. He confirms it’s the cable and organises a new one to be fitted for 13pounds, waiving the labor fee. I get my mac back the same afternoon.

    I have been told the new cable is stronger but am very worried that if it goes again and I am no where near an Apple store that I will have to lose another wad of cash! Apple parts are not easy to get unofficially, unlike those for PCs.

    Still, I love my mac and will buy one again, it’s just a reality you may have to face.

  52. Michael

    I love Mac so much that I’m almost scared to travel with it. The thought of getting it stolen is to much for me to handle. That is why in the past I bought a cheap netbook. I’m thinking I might get a chrome book for my next trip. Almost everything I do while traveling is based in the cloud. I might even get a VPN this time. 🙂

  53. John Mayson

    In 1987 I was introduced to Unix and soon after I was using a beautiful X Windows system. When I left that job I was dumped onto Windows 3.1 and I felt like I had gone back ten years. It was just awful!

    After dabbling in Linux I bought my first Mac in 2005 and I haven’t looked back! Rock solid stable and easy to use. People fuss about how expensive Macs are, but the hardware quality is so much higher. I used my iBook for five years before the battery showed signs of degradation. My early-2010 Macbook is still humming along as good as new.

  54. Steve C

    Earl, I’m very happy for you but on this one, I’ve got to take the other side. First, I’ve always worked on a PC. A couple years ago, I took the leap to purchase a laptop. I took my daughters advice and got a Macbook Pro, also after a lengthy investigation. It didn’t take long to find that I had made an expensive mistake. I really, really tried. I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt. But, there were so, so many times that I would encounter the “different” ways that a Mac operates and spend literally hours trying to figure out how to do just the simplest of things. There’s also the compatibility problems between the two systems. Different software, you gotta buy theirs and sometimes, things just don’t work. I finally gave up and gifted it to my daughter. She’s a happy gal and I no longer get steamed up angry, just being on the computer anymore.

    Maybe it’s part “Old dog, new tricks”, but there were so many simplest of operations that, I guess, you’re just supposed to know intuitively. So simple that I’d spend hours reading the manual, or flipping through “Help” and never finding the answer. I would totally disagree with you that it is smoother and more user friendly! I never saw that it could do anything better than a PC either. I was always intimidated by it. Every time I would use it, my blood pressure would rise. I truly hated it!!

    I’m also thinking there may be more to it than just it’s useability. Apple products are almost a cult product. They cost more and to have one is like a social one-ups to your friends. Like owning a “Beemer” when a Toyota will do to get you from here to there. Sure, Beemers go faster and look “sharper”, but you get the idea. At my age, I’m over that and would rather spend a couple more months in India. Also, there’s that Brand factor. Apple gets the highest of margins (up to 40% on their Iphones) of any of the manufactures.

    Earl, I think you’ve been duped into the cult. But, whatever floats yer boat. If you feel better with it, then that’s all that counts. Like I said, I’m happy for you. And, that’s my rant for the day! 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Steve – It’s interesting to hear all sides on this debate! For me, I’ve actually found the Mac system to be very easy to figure out and much more intuitive that a Windows machine. Also, as others have mentioned, you can run Windows on the Mac which will allow you to run any program you need, and according to many, Windows runs extremely well on the Mac too.

      As for the cult thing, to be honest, I don’t really care for all of that. In the end I went with the machine that feels best and to me, operates in a way that allows me to work more efficiently and to enjoy my work. I’ve personally never ‘enjoyed’ spending so much time on the laptop in all the years I had a Windows machine but like I said above, turning on my Mac is extremely enjoyable and that is well worth the money spent in my opinion. Plodding through another day of online work, just trying to get every task done without really being ‘into it’, is not worth saving a few hundred dollars to me. Of course, I didn’t know it would be this way ahead of time, just fell into place 🙂

      But hey, like everything, we all have different preferences! As long as we enjoy what we have, there’s really nothing to complain about.

  55. Mark Wiens

    I got a Macbook Pro about 3 years ago, and I just remember my first time using the touchpad I felt like I was piloting a jet. I agree, it just works smoothly and I still have fun using it too.

  56. Stevie

    Well played Earl. Tree and I have been on the road in Latin America for nearly 4 years now, and we both use MacBook Pros. Maybe getting them serviced would be a problem, but we wouldn’t know because we’ve never had any problems. That being said, almost every capital city has an Apple store with trained specialists, which is far more comforting than walking into an unknown computer shop and handing over your financial lifeline. By virtue of living in a van with a dog and now a baby, we are minimalists, but that doesn’t mean we skimp on price. We have found that buying quality gear is the way to go. It lasts longer, breaks less, runs smoother, quicker, better and is more fucking fun. And isn’t that what living the nomad life is all about?

  57. James

    Tyrhone stop promulgating the myth of Apple computers being locked down and inflexible. Nothing could be further from the truth. Can you run osx on your pc as easily as a mac can run windows? Have you ever used terminal? A mac is MUCH more customizable and flexible than any pc, most users simply don’t bother since the experience is so great out of the box.

  58. Ben

    Mac? I bought my first Mac while working on a cruise ship back in 2006 and think I was the only one on board with one. I’m a sucker for well designed and efficient things. My wallet never stood a chance!

    However I do agree with Jo’s opinion above. If the Mac you purchased run’s into problems while travelling to remote locations with little to no support it can be a very draining experience.

    I also believe that they may not be the best travel computers. The price tag is a little high when comparing them to small netbooks. I’m battling this decision now, as I’m not sure if I should pack my 15″ Macbook pro retina and take it to India and Nepal for 4 months or leave it here and buy and 11″ macbook air, or don’t bother bringing any computer. LOL!

  59. Robert Witham

    I currently use Windows, but have used Mac at work and experimented with Linux. As a writer and sometimes web designer I can comfortably use any of the three OSs for everything I need. The little bit I have played with Windows 8 and the reviews I have seen so far leave me planning to make the next laptop either Mac or Linux with the key factor being my budget.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences though as it helps to inform my decision.

  60. James

    Yes it is nonsense. Whilst every suicide is a tragedy it’s important to put it into perspective. Out of 1 million workers at Foxconn there have been 17 suicides since 2007 – American college students kill themselves at 13 times this rate, no-one’s calling for schools across the US to be closed.

  61. Jo Fitzsimons

    Like Dixie, I’m one of the few people that was all for Mac but then went back to Windows. I was travelling & working with a Macbook Air (admittedly 1st gen). When they’re good, they’re very, very good, but when you get the spinning beach ball of death, they’re horrid! I was in the depths of Mexico, heading to Belize without an Apple store in sight (at least not within several hour’s drive. As I was losing money from freelancing, I picked up a HP netbook for under $300. Light, fast (all storage on my portable hard drive) and I don’t worry about it getting damaged or stolen – weight, size and worry factor makes the Mac loose out for me when it comes to travelling. Yes, I miss how appealing the interface is with Mac, but when it went wrong it lost it’s charm. That said, I remember the excitement when I first switched to Mac, so I don’t want to burst your (hopefully not spinning beach ball) bubble 🙂

  62. JT Schonhoft

    Earl,

    I’m a little jealous of your purchase. I bought the same laptop in the 15″ version when they first came out. That was when the retina came in only 15″ models. My price tag was significantly higher than yours too. Since it was brand new, there were no refurbished ones yet. But it is BY FAR the best laptop I’ve ever owned and better than anything else I’ve seen out there since. It allows me to seamlessly edit and render video while also doing as many other tasks as I want. Mine only has 256GB so I’m also jealous of your 500.

    Congrats on the purchase!

  63. chrismission

    i do agree that an apple has a nice design, easy to access software and for most users is probably a lot more user friendly as windows, as you need to learn some stuff about windows to use it efficiently. that being said,

    @WanerdingEarl i think for you an apple most likely is a great choice, as it lets you do most of the things i would think you need to do, and it is so easy to use, so, good choice and have a lot of fun and productive days with it.

    for me, i prefer windows over apple, since i can use it very efficiently and i like having certain options, that a mac does not offer. also i need windows to run my programs as they are usually not written for the mac.

  64. Edgar

    Matthew: why don’t you get a MacBook and just install Windows 7 on it? It is officially supported and you will greatly benefit from the good hardware.

  65. Dixie

    When we first hit the road two years ago, we got what we thought was the ultimate in perfection: two Macbook Airs. We are/were Apple people. Everything works so easily and flawlessly together, phones, iPods, computers. Now we are 100% Android and Chromebook. When we returned to the states for a 3-4-month visit, we decided to get new phones, but the iPhone was too expensive to travel with. We got Google Nexus 4 phones, and we can just get new SIM cards all over the world. Then we decided that our Airs would be worth more now than in the future. If you’re in the states and something goes wrong, just go to the Apple Store and the service is beyond excellent. South of the border? Not so much. My Air was a doorstop that we couldn’t afford to fix down there ($850 USD). Got it fixed cheap when we got back. Anyway, we are going further afield this time and decided to sell the Airs and get $200 Acer Chromebooks and installed more RAM and Ubuntu. Work like a champ, and if something happens, lost, stolen, destroyed, just get a new one, and, boom, up and running again with small cash penalty. (Of course, if you’re not a geek – or married to one – Ubuntu is quite a pain)

  66. Laura

    I have had both, but now I’m on a Mac. I like the machine itself quite a lot, but I’ve not had a great experience being an Apple customer. I was having trouble getting iLife on my computer so I called them, and over the course of a few months I spent hours on the phone on hold and talking to representatives. First they were sending it by e-mail but then it would never come. Then they sent it again but it still didn’t come. Then they said they’d send me a disc by mail, which wouldn’t come. Then they’d inform me that it actually didn’t come on a disc. And on and on and on. Finally they told me that the one I was trying to get that whole time wasn’t actually supported by my machine (it’s a black Mac). Sigh. And then they were finally doing something but they had to charge me for it, although earlier they said it would be free.
    That coupled with the outrageous price for it’s accessories ($90 for a power cord?) make me doubt that I’ll get another one in the future.

  67. George

    For me the price while admittedly absolutely absurd is not the reason why I won’t buy a Macbook. The ethics of the whole company is entirely questionable. Mac (and Dell won’t leave them out) have an astonishing amount of suicides in their (close to slavery) Chinese labour force. A mac employee after losing a demo model killed himself claiming that suicide was better than the consequences he would face. The factory is an eerie canopy of nets stopping people from throwing themselves through the windows. So yea no thanks.

    1. Cindy Vancouver

      What nonsense George, please add links for the sources of this information rather than parrot the rumors you heard on the internet.

  68. chrismission

    Hi earl, very interesting post. i just researched laptops for maybe 2 months, since my travel starts in september and i want the best work piece i can get. i only barely considered mac, due to the software restrictions they come with and the software i use is mostly designed for windows, so my choice was almost obv. i do have an old macbook pro 2006 and it has a nice feel to it, i also had an imac as a secondary pc, but while it always felt nice,it never made me as happy as my windows stuff.
    i do have parallel desktops, but that always felt like a hassle.

    so i came to buy the $2000 Asus 15,6″, i7 3,3GHz quadcore, 256 GB ssd, 8GB ram… sound system from bang & olufson, they even put in an external dvd burner and subwoofer… without the subw. it is pretty solid sound, but with it.. i am blown away.. sounds like a full blows great hi fi thing… amazing. totally happy with it and yes the price stung hard, but this thing will be my life for the next couple of years on the road, so i thought i better get something really good.

    @Tyrhone i like how you descired the apple vs windows thing 🙂

  69. Nicole

    I agree with you completely! I love my macbook pro. It is definitely more user friendly than windows but, i love my android phone, i have used my moms iphone but i prefer android mainly because you can personalize it. I believe it is okay to own a macbook and an android phone, it works perfectly for me.

  70. Jackie

    The only Apple laptop I would consider is the Macbook Air. There are other ultrabook options but I haven’t seen any with a decent processor, among other important specifications. Id much prefer get a Windows laptop and install Ubuntu on it, saving half the money, and still getting a nice looking laptop – check out Sony, for example.

  71. Michael Choque

    I have the Mac Air 13 inch, just got it about two months ago and love it! Before that I had the MacBook 13inch for five years and love it too. I travel a lot, maybe not as much as you, but I travel lot, and found the Mac to the safes lap top to have my travels. Why? Never be hack into, my old lap top, which was a Toshiba window, was hacked on almost all my trips, but NEVER my Mac!

    You’ll enjoy your new Mac, and I do travel with a iPhone 🙂

    “Life is Good, Be Happy & Keep Smiling!”
    Your friend,
    Michael

  72. Spinster

    Got my first ever Mac (MacBook Pro) 2 years ago this month. Everyone who told me was correct: never going back. It’s expensive… but well worth it, in my opinion.

    Welcome to the fold. 😉

  73. Kim

    Agreed. The Macbook makes work fun. I also love that, should it be stolen (fingers crossed it never will be!) that the Apple “find my mac” function can be utilized. Things I never thought about before traveling!

  74. Rachel

    I’m surprised you didn’t go for the air given how light it is! But I guess you must need more memory than that.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rachel – I looked closely at the Macbook Air but the new Macbook Pro with Retina is only half a pound heavier and has the memory I was looking for, so it made sense in the end. Still a very lightweight laptop for what it offers.

  75. eemusings

    Still Windows for me. If I could get Mac for under $2k here, then I might consider it, but the discrepancy is still way too big.

    Hating Windows 8 with a passion, though.

  76. Erick

    Hmmmm. I’m never one to tell someone how to spend their money. Apple benefits from great marketing and some tight software controls. The reason it feels so streamline is because there is no freedom. It’s kind of like a police state. You may feel you’re safe but you give up all your freedom for that safety.

    A few very basic modifications that most people don’t know about, will make almost any decently spec’d PC blow the doors off of MAC. The issue is most people don’t know and these PC makers would be smart to tout these. I worked on a fellow bloggers PC and saw he had 110 applications running in the background using 65% of his memory. One trick many people don’t know about is partitioning your Hard Drive. Makes your OS lightning fast.

    I just can’t justify spending hundreds more for a “name”.

  77. Frank

    I became a convert a couple of years ago and cannot imagine going back to another type of computer. Sleek design genius aside, I’ve found the Apple OS much more intuitive than anything I had used before. Welcome to the cult!

    I’d love to take my Macbook Pro while I travel but the cost v risk of theft still has me worried so I’m taking up the challenge of trying to blog my RTW solely on my iPad! I don’t know of anyone who has exclusively done this, but if you have any tips would be appreciated!

    1. Earl from iPadNomads

      Frank,
      My wife and I did an 8 month RTW trip last year and only took our iPad (1st edition) and an old cell phone as our tech devices. We did our entire blog on the iPad and used the camera adapter to upload pictures to the iPad and also uploaded those pictures to Dropbox as well.

      I used various tools and tricks to get my iPad to work for me. I’m still a Windows fan and have an Android phone, but use an iPad for work now too as I needed a tablet with cellular capability.

      Any questions, let me know! 🙂

  78. Wes Nations

    You do realize that you can install Windoze on a Mac, right? In fact, some models of Macs run it faster than equally-priced PC models. As for ultrabooks (the category that –ya know– Apple kind of invented), Intel still hasn’t caught up in price, weight or features. Sorry.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Billy – The link you gave is for the Macbook Pro with only 256 GB of memory and a 2.6 Ghz i5 processor, not the one I mentioned above, which has 512 GB of memory and 3.0 Ghz i7 processor.

  79. Tristan

    Welcome to the club! I bought my first Mac (a 13″ MacBook Air) two years ago and have loved every minute of it since. I bought it because in the years before that, I’d spent a lot of money on cheap MP3 players that would die soon after I bought them or that were really hard to use. Then I bought an iPod and it was amazing, both from a user experience point of view and a hardware point of view. When it became time for me to get a new laptop, I bought a nice new Lenovo, but it had problems right out of the box. Frustrated, I sent it back and bought the Air.

    People who say how stupid Mac users are for spending so much money on a Mac just don’t get it. It’s not about the money. People spend money on all sorts of things that others may deem frivolous (fancy clothes, alcohol, coffee, cable TV, etc.). Is it really so terrible to spend money on a computer that you will be using every single freaking day for at least a couple years to come? When you spend so much time on your computer—especially when you make your living from it, like you or I do—you just want to have a good experience, price be damned. You want to be on a machine that you like being on. It’s like buying a Porsche vs. buying a Honda. It’s not a question of what the Porsche can or can’t do versus the Honda. They’re both cars and they’ll both get you from point A to point B. It’s about the whole experience.

    1. Tyrhone

      If your porsche was on tracks and you were only aloud to sit in the passenger seat while everyone else went off roading in their cheaper more powerful hondas. Then you might be right.

  80. Tyrhone

    Noooo! You’ve been tricked! I can buy a brand new ultrabook for $1200 which is more powerful and sleeker than your refurbished mac. People always use the “it just works” thing. But with a pc laptop you can install any operating system you want. The reason a mac environment “just works” is because of how tightly they lock down their software and hardware. If you never want to do anything other than walk the strict path laid out by apple software, then maybe tou made the right overpriced choice.
    Sorry but as someone who was forced to use macs at work and chose to use windows at home. I can assure you there was nothing more frustrating than being made to use my hardware a certain way. And the price still makes me see red.
    You’re onto a live one here Earl 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Tyrhone – That all may be true but for what I need, the Mac works perfectly and I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had on any Windows machine. And even with those $1200 ultrabooks, many of which I tested out at length before making my decision, not a single one of them felt as stable and efficient as the Mac, at least to me. So far I’m happy with the decision 🙂

  81. Gilbert

    Good day Earl. I am of the same opinion than Chelsea … ”once you go Mac, you never go back”. Earl, the same apply to the Iphone. Matching your Iphone with your Mac will make your life easier in all aspect, and saving time as they sync everything you do.
    Have a great day
    Carpe Diem

  82. Matthew Cheyne

    I’m a big fan of Apple. I’ve had my iPhone 4 since mid 2010 with hardly an issue (just having to re-install the software twice for some unknown reason) and I love the thing to bits. The Macbook is mechanically a great machine to have, it’s just that it doesn’t run Windows and I am so used to Windows and the fact that most applications run on it, far more than on OS and it’s various permutations, that I can’t justify the sticker shock. That said, I bought my Toshiba Satellite L750 with an i5 processor just over a year ago and am happy with that except for the fact that the battery life sucks big time and that I will need to buy a new battery for it soon as the original battery only comes with a two hour life span. There is a bigger battery you can buy for $200 that is double the size literally and lasts way longer. I also have a crappy old desktop that runs Windows 7 Ultimate (barely) on a Pentium 4 dual core processor. I want to replace that with my own custom built machine that will run on an i7 processor, the exact one I don’t know yet but completion is some way off due to my finances at the moment.

    1. Michael

      In currently running windows xp on my MacBook Pro along side osx using parallels. It works way better then running windows on any PC machine.

  83. Chelsea

    Great choice, Earl! The more you use your Macbook, the more you will fall in love with it – I can guarantee you that! I was a Windows user up until 2010 when I bought my Macbook Pro (13.3″ as well). What they say is true – “once you go Mac, you never go back!” It is so much faster and efficient, and you don’t have to worry about viruses as much.

  84. Ellen

    I just replaced my six year old MacBook with a new Air. The price was tough to swallow, especially as I added on Apple Care, but my experience with my first one was amazing and I knew I wanted to get another, even though I’m footing the whole bill this time! The service is unparalleled… if I have a problem, I take it in, they fix it, which for me is worth the up charge! I’m really excited about taking this lightweight thing on the road… my last one weighed a ton!

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