Apple doesn’t offer many product discounts, and it occurred to me on Friday evening that—being in the hunt for a new Mac system to replace my faithful late-2008 aluminum unibody MacBook—it would make good sense to take advantage of Apple’s Black Friday promotion.
Technically, the one-day offer wasn’t a discount. In a departure from previous years’ practice, Apple offered gift cards to customers at its on-line and retail stores on Black Friday 2013 in most parts of the world, although cash discounts prevailed in some European countries, presumably due to local sales tax structures. With Mac systems purchased in the U.S., Canada, and most countries, Black Friday customers received $150.00 gift cards or an equivalent.
My provisional plan had been to go with an Apple Certified Refurbished Mac, which on the mid-2013 13″ MacBook Air is a $200 saving over buying new. However, since I’m also anticipating an iPad purchase in the foreseeable future, if I went with a new machine I could apply the gift card to that, and would also get Apple’s iWork productivity suite (Keynote, Pages, Numbers) bundled for just $50 more than a refurb unit. It seemed like a no-brainer.
Actually, I hadn’t really settled on the 13-inch Air as opposed to the 11-incher, so I had to do some last-minute consideration. If I didn’t have the iPad, the 11-inch Air might’ve gotten the nod, but the 13-inch model offers enough extra value (ie: 33% more battery runtime, a higher resolution display, a larger trackpad, and an SDXC Card slot) to more than justify the $100 higher price, especially for duty as my anchor Mac. The 13-inch Air really is currently Apple’s best-value notebook. I just got in under the wire, placing my order in the literal 24th hour of Apple’s Black Friday promotion.
I had also considered a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The updated rMBP 13 sells in the U.S. starting at $1,299, or just $200 more than the 13-inch Air with the same base 4 GB RAM/128 GB SSD configuration. However, Apple Canada helped make up my mind for me on that choice by jacking the Canadian dollar base price of the new-model 13-inch rMBP to $1,349, while the MacBook Air prices have held steady so far at par with U.S. prices, making the spread between Pro and Air Can$250. That’s another reason for buying now; with the Canadian dollar having depreciated some six percent in its U.S. dollar exchange rate over the past month and forecast to drop further, I figure price parity on any Apple hardware model will soon be thing of the past.
I think I can live with 4 GB of hard-soldered, non-upgradable RAM, but I really do need at least a 256 GB storage drive, so I applied an extra $200 to that on an Air. Doing the same with the 13-inch Pro would’ve nudged the bottom line with sales tax (15 percent where I live) uncomfortably close to $2,000, and I balk at paying that kind of money for a non-upgradable machine with a glued-in battery and a projected practical service lifespan of only five years or so at best, even if my budget could digest it, which it couldn’t, so the 13-inch Air with a 256 GB SSD it would be, coming in at close to Can$1,500 with tax minus the $150 gift card. I may regret not ponying up another $100 for a RAM upgrade to 8 GB, but one has to draw the line somewhere.
So, now the waiting; Apple says delivery by December 10. It’s going to be an adventure. I haven’t had a laptop with no optical drive since my PowerBook 5300 in the late ’90s, which interestingly cost more than this MacBook Air for a fraction of the power and capability. However, I have a nice Aegis external 500 GB USB hard drive with an optical drive in it that should handle any CD or DVD needs that arise. In reality, the optical drive in the MacBook hasn’t seen much use for the past couple of years.