Buy my wife a MacBook now or wait?

Okay, here's the deal: my wife's birthday is at the end of September. Since getting her an iPhone 3 weeks ago she's completely fallen for the thing and is now ready to accept a new Mac as a replacement for her rapidly dying Windows XP laptop. The Windows laptop she uses is running painfully slowly and needs a full reformat and reinstall. Since I'm now heavy into Macs I'd rather not deal with it anymore so the time has come.

That said I've got a bit of a challenge. My wife is a high school teacher and qualifies for not only an educational discount but also the special that Apple is running through September 15th that gives students and teachers up to a $299 rebate on a qualifying iPod purchase. That means we could get her a nice little MacBook and give the free 8GB iPod Touch to our oldest daughter in college.

This would be a slam dunk except for the news that's been building that Apple is on the verge of releasing updates to both the iPods and MacBooks. Apple Insider just summarized what's potentially coming up and it sounds pretty interesting. The biggest news for me is that the new MacBook would address the one issue I've had with my white MacBook: the fragility of the plastic case.

The plan according to Apple Insider is that MacBooks will now be sheathed in aluminum just like my MacBook Pro. Since I've had the palm surface of my MacBook crack on me and have had a number of people send me e-mails and comment on my blog about the same problem I would like to avoid dealing with that again if at all possible.

I have a strong suspicion that the information Apple Insider is predicting is exactly what's going to happen. The free iPod Touch promotion is helping clear out the existing inventory now, both for iPods and MacBooks.

So the question is, buy now and get the free iPod Touch or buy a little later, pass on the iPod Touch but get the next generation MacBook. I realize this is a common refrain; buy now or wait for the next release however I only have just over two weeks to make a decision.

Any suggestions?


Anonymous said…
yes, wait.

The 8 or 9 September is really near.
Chris Howard said…
is a bird in the hand better than two in the bush?

When the birds are of the Apple species the answer is almost always no.

Personally, I'd wait. What you're really giving up is the touch. Is it that important to get your daughter a touch? And what if she decides she wants an iPhone? Then the touch gathers dust.

I'd wait, coz I've seen a lot of Apple's birds in the bushes, and they are always worth waiting for.
Chris Howard said…
I wish you could edit comments on Blogger!

Also, you'll end up with previous gen iPod and MacBook. So you'll be doubly disappointed when you see what you could have had. And they lose value the minute new ones come out.

And if the case ever cracked or discoloured on the MacBook, you'd kick yourself.

Of course, there's always issues with new designs for MacBooks, so you'd be taking that risk.

But I reckon you should wait.
Rob Workman said…
I'm casting another vote in the "wait" camp.
The disappointment of an upgrade so soon after buying an Apple product is too much to take!
Marius said…
I recall your advice from some time back that one should buy a computer when one needs it. In your case, though, the wait time is very short.

You should wait.
Anonymous said…
i'm in the exact same position. i'm in law school and would like to get a macbook. don't know if i should get it now w/ the bts promos or wait.

i don't think i'll wait, since i can no longer wait.
Anonymous said…
WAIT!!!!! Never buy a Mac unless the model you want was recently introduced or refreshed. Doing otherwise almost always results in pangs of regret.

And waiting gives you the option of picking up the latest and greatest, or grabbing one of the discontinued models at a discounted price.
Anonymous said…
Sidenote: why Apple didn't refresh its laptop line *before* many started back to school is beyond me.
This Is Ours said…
I'd say wait also.

The big deal for me is: Is your waiting a result of your wishes for your wife, or actually considering her needs.

In any case, Apple will still have the "old" models available at your wifes birthday, if you wait.

So you might forfeit an iPod for your daughter. But you know - it's your wifes birthday present, not your daughters ;) If you want to get her an iPod - get her one. Just because (if you can afford a 12Gb 8core Mac Pro, you can get her an iPod David ;) ).

So wait. See if the new model becomes available, get her one of those. If they don't become available (huge difference between making the announcement and making the product readily available, as we saw with the iPhone that June), get her one of the "old" models.

Since there's that 3 week gap between their announcement and your wifes birthday - what's to lose by waiting ?

On the other hand, your wifes gift could potentially be better by waiting.

Who cares about computer models. It's all about what makes sense compared to your wifes happiness :)
Anonymous said…
I'd also wait. September does seem to be the bet. I think the new MacBook range will be introduced around the 22 -26th of September. The 9th of September, I believe, will be an iPod/iTunes event with the MacBooks being released at the later date. Mind you, I am purely speculating.

Even if they do come out a little later, I doubt that your wife will mind a short wait for the latest and greatest.

@chris@ equixotic
"Sidenote: why Apple didn't refresh its laptop line *before* many started back to school is beyond me."

Probably to clear old stock and make way for the new.
Anonymous said…
At the very least, if Apple doesn't release a new form factor/case for the MacBook, they are due for a rev. According to, the current MacBooks were released on Feb 26.

The trend on rev's is typically 6 months, and in some cases, speed bumps have occurred in as few as 3 months.

We just passed the 6 month mark on the current MacBooks.

My wife needs a laptop, but until the new ones are released, she's tethered to her desk and our Mac Mini.
Anonymous said…
I would say wait. I'm doing the same as I'm looking forward to buying my first Mac laptop! Time to retire this WinXP notebook...can't wait to see what Apple has in store for us! :)
Anonymous said…
Why not do both? Buy one in the next week or so, while the supply still exists, and before the announcement, & therefore qualify for the promo. If on the 9th, they announce something you'd prefer, return the original purchase.

Since it is a present, she doesn't need to know that you've purchased it & you won't have to feel bad about not using it until the announcement is official.

They take back computers all the time - you can usually ask about open box discounted computers and receive a discount, but they don't do educational discount + open box discount too (or they didn't use to do this). The told us when we were buying last year that is almost always buyer's remorse - deciding they wanted a different model after they got it home - and a full hard drive restore to original state is done before a return is sold.

I've been a mac person since the original mac, and I don't normally go for the first generation of any mac product or it's redo. I like for the kinks to be worked out by someone other than me. That isn't an indictment about their rollout, just a statement about my patience with dealing with work-arounds, re-furbs, or for updates once they hear from the user community about improvements to be made to the new form-factor.
Pedro said…
It doesn't matter when you are getting ready to buy a Mac (any Mac), there is always one solid rumor in the pipeline about a product line update that is going to happen ASAP.

It never fails.

The only time you need to worry is around MWSF and WWDC, because those are the only two times that they announce big product changes. The rest of the year is for incremental updates.
Sprocketeer said…
This page might help you decide:
Anonymous said…
i'll be the dissenter and say buy now. granted, an upgrade to the macbook case would be great. but, who knows if that's really going to happen - these are rumors after all. rumor of updated cases for the macbooks have been around for quite a while. a speed upgrade is more of a point release and i doubt that your wife would even notice the difference.

get it now and sleep well.
MacTrader said…
It's a tough decision. You actually also get a free printer/copier/scanner with the package if that makes any difference. If you can, I would wait until the last few days of the deal to see if apple rolls out something new. You can also buy protective shells to help secure the macbook's exterior. Good luck!
David Alison said…
Thanks for the feedback folks. I have two hard dates I have to take into account: 9/15 (end of promo) and 9/29 (wife's BD).

I've always given the advice to people to buy what you want when you want it but I've got a little time left. At a minimum I'm going to wait until 9/14 or so to see if the new stuff is announced; if not, that's the hard decision date.

@Sprocketeer: Great link - thanks!
John Hovland said…
I would wait. She's going to have the Macbook for a few years, and the enjoyment from having a more up-to-date computer with a more rugged case would likely outweigh whatever savings you might get now.
Anonymous said…
I say wait.

Buy now: Most known issues have been sorted out. Get free iPod Touch.

Wait, buy later: Possible Rev. A issues.

I vote wait. Aluminum is nice; might be thinner. I believe they may be updating iPod Touches later this year along with perhaps a price reduction.
Korey Jerome said…
I am in the same position. I want one as well but am going to wait because the rumors are that we may see a little price break as well as the new design. I'm very excited to see what is coming in September. Should be fun.
MattF said…
When people ask me this kind of question, my (free!) advice is 'Get the computer you want'.
Anonymous said…
I'm in the same position. The rumor of the major MacBook changes is what moves me to want to wait for it, even if I have to give up the iPod touch.

At a minimum, since the promo doesn't end until Sep 15, I've decided to wait until Sep 9 - the risk is there are no more iPod touch to be bought. And I don't expect to see the new laptops on Sep 9; I'm hoping for mid-Sep, but they could roll into Oct.

Dick Barsky said…
I'll throw my hat into the ring and vote with the majority here. It's best to wait, especially as the intro date is a week before the promo ends.

The current line of Macbooks are nice, but due to the longevity of Macs, the expected nearness of new/refreshed models, and the issues you have with your model, I think a wait and see approach is the most prudent.

Like many who have already commented here, I'm in the same boat. I want a new Macbook, but have decided to hold off until new models arrive. I want to see what internal architectural improvements have been made as well as what new case design will emerge.

If it turns out the new case design is not to your liking, you could still get what is the current model, at a reduced price (most likely you'd be able to find one new but priced low enough to make up for missing out on the promo).
Mark F said…
Unless its urgent wait.

Of course you could get lucky like I did with my iMac. I ordered and before they could fill the order there was a refresh and they upgraded my order to the refreshed model.

I don't know the science of why Apple does what it does, but new models and refreshes seem to come AFTER the back-to-school buying frenzy and AFTER Christmas, while everyone else rolls the new stuff before those two key buying periods.

If you aren't into the upgrades (you obviously are) you can catch some good bargains at the tail end of the school buying period and after Christmas as the last of inventory is flushed, especially from folks like MacMall.
Anonymous said…
I too am in the same position. I'd love a MacBook Pro because they've been around a while and I know what I'd be getting. By waiting, I'll have to wait some more to make sure there are no unexpected quality control issues with version 1.0. But the new features and potential improvements being rumored have convinced me that if I have to wait, then wait a few months more, it's worth it. Always get more and newer than what you think you'll need.
Anonymous said…
Buy now, get the iPod Touch.

What power hungry apps does your wife use? Or does she mostly just surf, e-mail, word process, etc.? Unless she needs the absolute raw speed of the latest machines, current models should be more than adequate.

You've been in tech long enough; you know that if you can buy it, it's already obsolete. New product fever is an incurable, recurring disease.

I'm writing this on a PowerBook G4 thats a bit over 3 years old. When I bought it, it was top dog. Today, it is still going strong, is more than adequate for my needs, and I don't anticipate replacing at least until Snow Leopard ships factory installed on new machines.

The one thing that does make a difference is that I added 1 GB of RAM to the 0.5 factory installed. ALWAYS add more RAM to a new computer; that maximizes the return on investment of the upgrade, and makes the machine faster when new, and useful for longer when comparing it to the newer releases. If you don't max out the RAM, at least add what you can to open slots.
Anonymous said…
to follow up on my suggestion to buy now or after the 9th, everyone at the wwdc anticipated a refreshed macbook line and it didn't happen. at macworld, everyone anticipated a refeshed macbook line and the macbook air was announced instead. these rumors will drive you crazy if you let them. i picked up my mbp 3 months ago and haven't looked back. i'm completely happy with my purchase even if apple comes out with a mbp tomorrow that can serve me coffee and throw a football around.
dndgirl said…
You have the right idea, David. Wait until the 14th to decide. That's what I would do, if I needed a new laptop. (I want a new one, but don't need a new one.)
Anonymous said…
BUY buy now!

I sense you are like the famous Leo Laporte, who upon buying the Powerbook the new one comes out the following day.

Since I am in the market for the new one you can help to speed up the release date by buying today.
Anonymous said…
I'm in about the same boat: buy a MacBook for my girlfriend, or wait for the new model?

Except I'm not worried about the free touch so much. I actually really like the white plastic case on my 1st gen MacBook, which she is using now. IMO, It feels more sturdy to pick up than my MacBook Pro. And I really, REALLY like the fact that I can upgrade the HD really easily. I'd like to wait for the newer, more capable model, but I'm afraid I won't like the aluminum case as much, and the HD will be unreachable without removing a hundred screws and pulling a ribbon cable or 2.

- Ray
Anonymous said…
I'm in the same boat as my wife is ready to ditch her five year old PowerBook (partially the result of getting a new iMac and my new MacBook). I've convinced her to wait a week. Almost anyone can wait a week. I almost always buy refurbs, so there won't be any of the new models as refurbs for a month or so, but most likely the now version as a refurb will be the best bet (price drop when new models come out). But if the new one has must have features (can't imagine what that would be), you or your wife will have the option to get it.
Anonymous said…
Wait till the promo date's last day and place an online order. If the new Macs haven't already been announced you may be upgraded to a new model anyway depending on remaining old stock availability. :)
Anonymous said…
Sure wait awhile...BUT...get a new MBP for you and give her your "old" MBP...after all she's a PROfessional Teacher not a pimply faced MB student!
Anonymous said…
I was in the same boat, to an extent. We had been pondering on 'going mobile' around the house for about a year, and moving the PM G5 upstairs.

The missus and I both got a bonus late June, so pulled the pin on a MBP 15" (refurb) early July. We had either decided on a black'book (not so hard to keep clean as white), or a MBP. The refurb MBP ended up ~US $50 dearer than a black'book retail.

I had already been holding off a number of months for the 'new updates just around the corner' and decided to go for a few reasons:

1) Rumours are often wrong, and I was driving myself nuts by sitting on the wall.
2) Buying RevA of a new design (speed bumps not so bad) appears a risky business, therefore Id be waiting for RevB (ie ANOTHER 6 months) anyway.
3) I couldnt justify a retail MBP to myself, but could stomach a refurb to get the MBP improvements (VERY happy with decision) and refurbs takes a few months to become available.

In your case, your wife probably wont really care whether she has the most up to the minute machine, as long as its doing the job she wants. Its always me that suffers buyers remorse, not the missus. And its HER laptop, not yours :-)

Missing out on the touch is probably really neither here nor there IMHO - its not an iPhone :-)

Even if they ANNOUNCE them in mid to late September, its not likely they will be SHIPPING til mid October.

You could do what I do occasionally when I have some reason for holding off buying a present. Make a special card, that says its a 'voucher' for XYZ item when it becomes available :-)

I think the wait until mid Sep is probably a good compromise :-)
Anonymous said…
My attitude with Apple is buy it when you need it and buy the highest end you can afford.

So if your wife doesn't need a new computer right now, wait. It's not like computers are going to get slower and more expensive if you wait.
Unknown said…
I would say wait because by the time that new MacBook lines come out, you can have cheaper of old MacBook or you can get the latest/high end MacBook line which is within your budget.

In the mean time, you can setup a linux on your old junk for you wife if she really need a machine to work on doing some basic stuff, ubuntu should do good.

I would check with Apple on the "Educational, Non-CTO, Closed Box" return policy for the promo items first.

As long as you don't do a build to order or CTO (configure to order) purchase, and If they will honor the standard 14 day return policy usually offered for non-CTO closed box returns (read no restocking fee), I would wait until the last possible day and place your order.

This way you've covered all your bases. You get the opportunity at the Touch/Laptop Educational bundle with a decent return policy. (Again, just don't open it!!!)

If something that fits your needs/wants becomes available soon after your purchase, you'll have some options.


David Alison said…
@Raster: Best advice yet Jeff, thanks! That sounds like the best plan so far.
David Alison said…
@D.O.: I would love to put Ubuntu on her laptop and likely will when it's no longer her primary machine.

I love Ubuntu and have it on one of my workstations, using it fairly regularly as it parallels one of my production server environments.

The only problem is Apple doesn't have an iTunes for it, which is how my wife updates her iPhone.
Anonymous said…

Several years ago my wife presented me with my birthday present. In the box was a picture of the item I WOULD be getting BUT not on my birthday because the newer item would not be available until a later date. Tell your wife as my wife told me - she believed the wait was worth it and I would understand. I did.
PFVan said…
Buy now.
- Never, never, never be an Apple first adopter. When they design something new, wait at least six months for them to fix the problems. New Macs, with a few exceptions, mean new problems.
- Sell the iPod touch. I bought an iPod with my faculty discount, and I sold the iPod and printer on eBay to defray the cost. You can gain $300.
- About your daughter's iPod. The next version of the touch will be out soon. It will cost less than the current one, and it will be the second generation.
Anonymous said…
Dave, seen this site?

Takes the guessing out of it. Or at least gives you some good info with which to make an educated guess.
Anonymous said…
when apple announces new macbooks, are they immediately available? i can wait until mid-sept to get a new laptop, but i need to physically have it by mid-sept.

what has been the scenario with past releases for macbooks?
Anonymous said…
Hey gang, I'm in a similar situation...

I'm on the verge of getting a MacBook Pro along with the free printer and the free iPod Touch. Quite a package!

The problem is that I've now started reading about all the screen problems with the MBP! The Apple discussion forum/threads on this are pretty scary.

I'm wondering what you all think about the problem-- how bad and how universal it is. It could be that this is one case where a new model (if one comes out) is better than the old one!

Should I hold off or take my chances?
David Alison said…
@Anon: What problems have you been reading about the MBP? I've had mine for a little over two months now and it's been excellent. The only complaint I have is that it can run a little warm if pushed (the cooling on it is very poor and ventilates right into your hand), but I've had no other problems at all.
Anonymous said…
The Apple forums have several very long threads that discuss the problem of black vertical stripes on the screen. Search for "strange vertical stripes". See the picture at

Hope it's not widespread!
Unknown said…
I don't think apple will change completely the design of macbook
2 reasons :
the change to new processors is just a small upgrade.

the new Intel platfom (core i7) will be largely multi core and will appear first quarter 2009. Snow leopard will be optimized for this. So I think they will really change the design of their macbook at this time.
Anonymous said…

I just saw this at MacsimumNews...

Apple to hold special Sept. 9 event

With the invitation titled "Let's Rock" it's probably an announcement of new iPod designs. But who knows...

John R
David Alison said…
@JohnR: Thanks man - very helpful. It's getting closer. Must... resist... urge... to buy... now!

(This is of course said in my Captain James T. Kirk voice)
Eytan said…
David, my guess is that when they release the new iPods (the ones that will not be eligible for the rebate,) the 8 GB will end up being no more than 199, if they even still have the 8 GB (Maybe the 16 GB base will be 199). I have a feeling that they will e AGGRESSIVELY pushing these, so AT MOST you will be out of $200, but get new hardware. Remember, the $100 educational discount and the free printer are there year around....
Unknown said…
Buy now.

Rev.A models almost always have teething issues. The TiBooks had weak hinges and flaking finish, the MacBooks started out with the discoloring palm rest issue, and virtualy all Rev.A machines have had issues, minor or major.

The current MacBook is twice-proven improves on the already great iBook design while fixing its few weaknesses, and it's in its third revision, which means all the bugs are worked out by now.

Wait for the new MacBook with the Aluminum cases, and you may get a sexier machine, but you'll also get to play Early Adopter Roulette.

I bought my MacBook last month intentionally, to get one of the last white MacBooks. Then again, I like the white polycarbonate, and I don't think much of metal cases...they scratch and dent too easily, interfere with WiFi reception on occasion (TiBooks again), and only look nice when they're brand new.

Your mileage may, of course, vary.
Anonymous said…
Buy online on the day of your other deadlines. Apple has been known to suffer mysterious delivery delays slightly before a new model is announced, and anything that is in the pipeline when the announcement is made has been known to be upgraded to the new model for free. Also, be certain to go directly back to Apple if an upgraded product is announced within 15 days of a purchase. Sometimes, that works.
Anonymous said…
I currently own a 10 month old Santa-Rosa MacBook. Apple has offered to replace it with a new MacBook because they could not a fix a problem with the case. The offer was made today and will probably be processed next week.

I am wondering what would happen if Apple introduces new MacBooks next week. Will I get the old (current generation) MacBook or would I get the new MacBook? If I get the older MacBook, can I exchange it for the new one?
Anonymous said…
I'd wait too, but for a different reason - you could save quite a bit on a current generation refurb. That's what I did. I purchased a refurb unit the day after Apple released the new ones and saved over $400 off the price of a new one. My refurb is a year and a half old and hasn't had a single problem and in addition looked brand new when I got it aside from the plain brown box they pack refurbs in.
Anonymous said…
Well it's looks like your options are buy now, or wait until some time in October :) Good luck!

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