Many people can hardly bear to be without some kind of computer, and laptops are still the computer of choice for many users. Yet laptops are still relatively expensive machines, and many people find themselves shopping for a laptop on an extremely limited budget. Apple laptops specifically have a very loyal following of customers, but the prices of these computers are still fairly high for many potential buyers. So for Apple enthusiasts, finding a good deal is especially important.
A good place to begin is by simply looking at what types of Apple laptops are out there and going over some general tips on how to buy a laptop. Because of the fast pace of technological change, it does not make sense to discuss specific laptop models, but since Apple laptops are always offered in a couple of fairly consistent categories, it is possible to talk about their variety in a general way. Then the discussion can continue to how to negotiate the choices when budget is specifically a limiting factor.
Choosing an Apple Laptop
The selection of Apple laptops is much smaller than the selection of PCs, which is actually one of Apple's advantages. Fewer options means making a choice is simpler, and Apple does make a laptop for just about any need. Before getting into fitting a laptop into a budget, it is a good idea to look at the range of Macs available as well as the major considerations for buying a laptop.
Types of Apple Laptops
The selection of Apple laptops does shift somewhat over time as new models are introduced and old ones are retired. That being said, the overall pattern is fairly consistent. At any given time there may be only two or three distinct product lines, including an affordable line with basic features and a professional line with more advanced features and a higher price. Each product line comes in several different sizes and optional upgrades are available. Buyers who are not particularly enthusiastic about electronic details can begin shopping by focusing on the product line that corresponds to their interests.
What to Look for in an Apple Laptop
Major considerations for laptops include: processing power; storage and memory; battery life; size and weight; screen size and resolution; ports and expandability; and security features. Of course, price is also an important constraint. Selecting a laptop is a complex matter of comparing many variations on all of these factors. As mentioned, choosing an Apple laptop is simpler because at any given time there are fewer choices, but the buyer still must consider which product line to go with and what, if any, upgrades to choose. That choice still comes down to these same basic considerations. Since it is not possible to maximise all of the these features at the same time, a laptop cannot have a large screen and a small body at the same time, for example. So which laptop to buy depends on what mixture of these major features is important to the buyer.
Screen Size and Resolution
A large screen itself is generally considered a good thing, because it gives the user the option of a good viewing experience for gaming and watching movies. If a good visual display is important, then screen resolution is also important, as is having a powerful graphics chip, or its equivalent, in the case of Apple laptops that use integrated graphics. However, the larger the screen the heavier the laptop, unless the model is extremely high-end. Everything else being equal, lighter is better for laptops. So the buyer must decide whether to prioritise a great screen display, light weight, or low cost for an Apple laptop. At best, only two out of the three are possible.
Ports and Expandability
Ports and expandability refer to how the laptop connects to other equipment and how well it can be upgraded. The two issues are connected, because both require considering what the laptop is going to have to be capable of in the future. For example, while USB ports are standard, and USB hardware is common, USB 3.0 hardware is popular and may become the standard in turn. Depending on how long the Apple laptop is supposed to last and how interested the buyer is in connecting to the latest hardware, it may be important to look for a laptop that has a USB 3.0 port for use in the future.
Expandability means how easily the laptop can be upgraded by the user at home. Unfortunately, Apple laptops are categorically not very expandable. They are not designed to open up and they are not modular in their construction. Most Apple laptops cannot even have their batteries changed. Instead, buyers who want a little extra to cover future needs must get the upgrades from the manufacturer during the initial sale.
Laptop security features usually focus on lowering the risk of laptop theft. For example, some have attachment points for security cables or leashes by which a laptop can be locked to a desk. However, no security feature can make a laptop invincible and it is wise to always to be careful not to leave a laptop lying around in an unsecure area.
An issue related to security is durability; most laptops can be severely damage by being dropped, but some are designed with solid-state memory that cannot be as easily disrupted by falls. Some laptops are capable of being dropped several feet onto solid rock without damage.
The heart of an Apple laptop is its a processor. The faster and more powerful the processor, the faster and more powerful the computer. But processing power itself may not be a very important consideration, since many people find even very basic Apple laptops have more than enough power for word processing, e-mail, and other common uses. Instead of simply attempting to get a powerful computer, it makes more sense to find out what each product line can do. If a more basic processor is good enough, that leaves more money in the budget for either lighter weight or a larger screen.
Apple laptops have a reputation for being expensive, because even low-priced Apples usually cost a lot more than the PCs with similar capabilities. However, entry-level Macs typically are higher-quality machines than entry-level PCs and compare much more accurately to mid-range PCs that are roughly the same price as the Macs. So Macs are actually not more expensive, it is simply that Apple does not offer a product line in the lower end of the laptop market.
Choosing an Apple Laptop on a Budget
Choosing a laptop on a budget always involves a trade-off among conflicting features, because no laptop can be low-cost, powerful, and lightweight at the same time. Choosing a laptop on a budget is simply one way to shape this choice. The process begins with setting a budget, an upper limit of potential price beyond which the buyer is not going to go. From there, there are two basic approaches: either find a basic, inexpensive Apple laptop that does the job or find a great deal on an Apple laptop that is ordinarily expensive and stocked with fancy features.
What Features Are Really Necessary for Your Apple Laptop?
Many people end up paying for more laptop than they really need or want. Someone who basically wants to surf the web, check e-mail, and take notes does not need a machine capable of playing an editing video. Someone who never has any reason to burn CDs does not need a CD burner. A great deal of money can be saved simply by not buying features the buyer does not want anyway. That being said, sometimes the whole point of buying an Apple laptop is to get one particular higher-end feature, such as professional video editing, and without that one feature the buyer might as well not buy a new laptop at all. In such cases, staying within a budget means finding a good deal, often on a used machine.
Finding a Good Deal for Apple Laptops
When shopping for an Apple laptop on a budget, it is a good idea to make two lists. One list includes all the features that the laptop must have in order to be worth buying, and the other list includes features that it would be nice to have if the price is right. The second list is important, because while nobody wants to miss out a good deal, an unusually low price on something the buyer is never going to actually use is still a waste of money.
Buying an Apple laptop used is one way to get a low price. Another way to buy near the end of the product cycle, right before the new models come out, when prices are typically lower. Either strategy does result in a laptop that is relatively old at purchase and therefore all that much closer to being left behind by rapidly changing technology. Sometimes this can be a problem, and it is actually important to get the most up-to-date machine possible. In such cases, full price may simply be a good deal. In other cases, being left behind does not matter so much. The less a computer has to be able to connect with other machines, the less it matters how much farther advanced the other machines may be.
How to Buy an Apple Laptop on eBay
Buying through eBay is straightforward. The main thing is to be careful to read the listings thoroughly to avoid misunderstandings and to use the search tools effectively. There are two main ways to look for something on eBay, the simple search and the Advanced Search. The advanced search takes the buyer right to a specific item, while the simple search permits more browsing. To try simple search, just type 'Apple laptop' or other relevant keywords, such as 'MacBook Pro', into the search box. If desired, narrow down the results using the menu options.
If questions come up during the buying process, ask the seller using the link on his or her profile page. It is important to get questions answered, because misreading a listing and buying the wrong thing by mistake is possible and is, at best, an embarrassing mistake. Ask the seller to insure shipping as well.
Buying an Apple laptop need not be an expensive proposition. The main considerations are to decide, first, what features are and are not needed, and how up to date the laptop needs to be at the time of purchase. With this information, it is possible to develop a strategy to find a good deal. Remember that there is no such thing as a laptop that is objectively better than all other options in all possible ways. Different buyers have different priorities, so features that would be wasted on one buyer may be absolutely critical to another.
Getting a great Apple laptop model within a budget means having a very clear idea of what the budget is and what features are required. From there, the object is simply to find an Apple laptop within the budget that has all of the features an individual buyer needs, most of the features he or she needs, and few if any unnecessary features. Apple laptops have a wide following, in part because of their reputation for solid, intelligent construction, suggesting that an affordable Mac is a very good deal indeed.