Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Testing Apple Upgrades

When I left the Apple store with my MacBook, I was carrying a 13 inch MacBook and an AppleCare warranty. I'm happy with my MacBook, and happy to pay 250USD for a 3-year comprehensive AppleCare warranty.

Apple upgrades are overpriced. As a rule of thumb, you can get a better accessory with a better warranty at half the price anywhere else. Let's test that.

The Test

To complete my home setup, I needed an external monitor and a couple gigs of RAM for the MacBook.


Eric recommended OWC for the memory. I checked it out.

Total price charged my card with FedEx 2-day shipping: $236.64
The order went through at about 6PM on a Tuesday.

Response to warranty question:

Duane Crago: Good evening. All memory has a lifetime replacement warranty.

Rich Bodo: Cool. thanks. is there a web page that states that?

Duane Crago: http://eshop.macsales.com/Customized_Pages/Framework.cfm?page=PowerBook_Memory/memhead/warranty.html

Rich Bodo: thanks. I'll blog you guys if this works out!

Well, I didn't get the best deal out there. There are better deals coming up every day. But here's a page that lists some better ones. Still, I did meet my goals, and it looks like princeton chips with good manufacturing quality on the board.

The memory arrived on Friday.

I simply followed the instructions in the supplied macbook manual to get it installed. Read and follow along with that manual, but bear in mind these notes: NOTE 1: The manual asks you to listen for a "click" when inserting the memory. You *might* feel a click, but you won't hear anything. Just make sure it's in as far as the old memory was, taking into account it's dimensions. NOTE 2: the levers don't retract into the memory compartment, the cover pushes them back in place. NOTE 3: If you can't find your set of jewlers screwdrivers, frys has a great little pocket screwdriver for two bucks with everything you need to work on your mac.

External Display

Apple wants 799USD for a 20-inch external monitor. Their monitors are nice, so this may not be easy to beat in quality. It took me a while to find a monitor that looked better to me than the 20-inch, but I found one. The one I bought was a ViewSonic OptiSync VX924 Xtreme Gaming 19" LCD Monitor (Black/Silver) Although it's slightly smaller, it looks a lot better to me personally, and it's got a better included warranty (3 year) at less than one third the price of the Apple monitor. I would much rather look at the VX924 all day, so this is an acceptable deal. Right now it's selling at Amazon for 259.99USD after rebate. I am waiting for it to arrive. To be fair, I don't think there are any monitors out there that are exactly comparable to the Apple monitors feature-wise. They are in a class by themselves. But since this is a subjective thing, the ViewSonic passes my test. If you are looking for a monitor that is half the price of the Apple, and very, very similar, there is a monitor from Dell, the UltraSharp 2007WFP 20.1-inch Widescreen Flat Panel LCD Monitor with Height Adjustable Stand, for 390USD that might fit the bill.

Approximate total for my home setup:

MacBook: 1100.00

AppleCare: 250.00

2 G RAM: 225.00

19" External LCD Mon.: 260.00

Screwdriver: 2.00

miniDVI to DVI cable: 20.00

Or, about 2000 bucks after tax and shipping, plus a little bit of my time. You won't have to put up with another blog post from me on laptops for the next 3 years.

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