2007/02/06

Style Over Quality - The Apple Computer Laptop Tax

I've been a diehard Apple laptop user since 1995. Between the Frogette and I, we've owned 5 PowerBooks In fact, for my personal computing I typically won't use anything else. But here's the problem: Apple laptops are stylish hunks of junk!

That said, I recommend Mac OS X over Windoze any day of the week, but you need to be aware of what you're getting into when you purchase one of these finicky, prima donnas of the computer industry. And herein is where we come to the issue of the Apple Laptop Tax. You may recognize this by it's other name the AppleCare Protection Plan. Basically this an extended warranty, and although the conventional wisdom says that it's a waste of money, when it comes to Apple you damn well better have it. Why? Because every Apple laptop comes equipped with at least one crippling defect that will turn it into a non-functional brick, usually in it's second year. Here's my personal rundown of problems:

PowerBook 520c
  • Keyboard so misshapen (bowed outward) that the keys wouldn't depress unless they were hit dead center and HARD--turned touch-typing into a mistake-filled nightmare. (3 attempts--never fixed)
iBook G3
  • A graphics card failure scrambled the screen in ways that were both entertaining and horrific
PowerBook G3 "Firewire"
  • Hard-drive failure
  • Failed to sleep on close/failed to wake from sleep on open (a firmware bug)
  • Screen so dim that it couldn't be used in sunlight...at all.
PowerBook G4 "Aluminum"
  • Memory slot failure (2 times)
  • Screen hinge freezes (3 times)
  • Wrong wattage power adapter supplied when new (probably caused 3 batteries to fail before their time)
MacBook (Purchased just 6 weeks ago)
  • Random system crashes due to firmware issues with the WiFi card (a problem that Apple claims has already been fixed)
And how does Apple treat the people that shell out for AppleCare? Usually...as an annoyance. In fact, Apple has a long history of treating their customers like cr*p, but that extra $300.00 you spend does get you slightly better service. Occasionally--perhaps one time in two--you get someone who can actually help with the issue, but not always. And so you might ask yourself why I stick with Apple. In a nutshell, ease of use and style, and that second part translates into resale value. It's rare that I can't sell an PowerBook for up to 50% of what I paid for it, even as late as 4 years down the line, but there is no question that my relationship to Apple is of the love/hate variety.

9 Comments:

AAACK! Don't tell me that!

I just bought my first Mac - a 17" MacBook Pro. It's the most beautiful computer I've ever seen. I was told by many to buy the Apple Protection Plan, so I did.

The only issue I've had so far is with my .Mac account, but it was resolved through email. I would have preferred to resolve it by phone, but that's a no-go with Apple.
It's a lot like fashion - Vanity carries a high price. As an APPL shareholder, this makes me very happy. As a customer, not so. But the screaming leagions that galavant about Moscone at Macworld prove there is no substitute for good design.

Powerbook as paper weight sounds like fun, however. What's better would be nice stack of old lap tops with a desk top G4 or some such to weight them on your desk - you know, the PC like a paperweight - holding down all your machines so they won't walk off on their own.
Perhaps they should call it the "AppleCORE protection plan"?

Something unsightly, brownish, unpleasant to deal with and generally trashed?

I shouldn't be so apple-bashy, but every Mac I've ever touched has gone BSOD within 2 min. of my touching it. And they aren't supposed to HAVE a BSOD.

I have taken this as a sign from the Deity that I must maintain myself pure from any MacApple contamination....

/sarcasm
Sorry Lizzy...it's just the 'lay of the land' so to speak. At least you did buy AppleCare. When you can actually convince Apple that there is a problem, then they are very good, very prompt at getting it taken care of, especially if it diagnosable in hardware (i.e., not subjective).

WS...yeah fun if you're not the owner. ;-) As for the 'screaming legions' no question there. Good design counts for a lot.

Sewmouse... AppleCORE...bwahahahaha! But what's "BSOD"?
A laptop with Linux or a bloody big suitcase to carry my desktop Mac? Decisions...
Apple, Windoze... Flip a coin for which is "better". Unless you're a certain type of Gamer (then PC is way to go), there really is NO appreciable difference except for style.

And that's overblown in my experience.

Random system crashes due to firmware issues with the WiFi card (a problem that Apple claims has already been fixed)

I didn't know you were one o' those hallucinogenic frogs, Kvatch! If the Apple tech had known, I'm sure they woulda told you to stop lickin' yer own skin and the problem will go away.

Seriously though; I fix Dell's for a living and I'll rec them as soon as but not sooner than any brand out there. Including Apple.

No matter what you buy, Pay The Tax! It shouldn't have to be that way, but apparently none of these Corps believe in their own freakin' products enough to guarantee they'll work for 3 whole years.

THAT's the kind of irresponsibility which causes our Commercia-Techno society to be flooded with logically redundant laws and regulations.

Awesome post, frogmigo. FauxNews should read Blognonymous in order to see the empirical presentation of Fair and Balanced.

Errr, usually. {-:-P

L8
BSOD = Blue Screen Of Death

Occurs when some file in the OS gets corrupted, or a piece of hardware is going bad. The screen turns a cheery blue and displays an ancient font-faced message telling you (if your lucky) what crashed.

Fun stuff, eh.
...there really is NO appreciable difference except for style.

Oh...not so, my head-shaking primate. On the hardware front, maybe, but neither my ThinkPad nor my HP laptop ever had a catastrophic failure

On the software side of things though, there's a world of difference. For the end user Mac OS X is simplicity itself, whereas Windoze is bewildering complex. For the software developer, I'll take Unix, Linux, or MacOS any day over WinXP or any of its cousins--OS calls do what they're supposed to, drivers work as advertised, little or no pesky DRM to deal with, etc, etc, etc...
Hey, and should've said. I've encountered the Blue screen of death many times as well--just never seen it abbreviated that way.

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