Disney World. Costco. A ski resort. The Apple Store.
What do these places have in common? They’re all places I love to go, but know to avoid at certain times. Never visit Disney World over spring break, don’t go to Costco on a Friday before a holiday weekend, avoid ski resorts over Presidents’ Weekend, and never shop at an Apple Store on a Saturday morning.
So what’s a gal to do when she really wants a new computer for blogging, and she waited until the weekend?
Let’s back up. Why the rush for a new laptop? There was no rush, really, other than the fact that we live in an instant gratification world, and I want what I want when I want it. Kalisa and I had committed to starting our blog, and our momentum was growing. It was starting to take shape, my mind was reeling and I was fired up. I sat in my office all day every day, staring at my desktop. My office began to smell of coffee and dogs (who are always under me), and my muscles began to atrophy.
I soon realized that unless I was going to be marooned in lovely Ohio, I was going to need a laptop. I also yearned to leave my home office and work in other rooms in the house — it was college football season, and with a son at the University of Michigan, a daughter at THE Ohio State University, and family full of Sooners, I hoped to hunker down in front of ESPN and work on the blog. Time for a great laptop, with as much functionality as my desktop. (This post may contain affiliate links, which means the blog may make a small commission if you purchase something from the link.)
The Search for a Laptop: The Microsoft Store
Saturday morning dawned, and I headed to the mall. Total rookie move. At 10:30 am. the parking lot was already full. First stop: the Microsoft store to explore PCs. Regardless of some slick and well-reviewed PCs, many with pretty attractive price-points, I quickly established that I preferred to go with an Apple product. For at least ten years all my technology has been Apple, and this old dog would struggle with new tricks. I think it would be very challenging now to go back to a PC; I’m sure I could do it, but not without a lot of curse words. And this process was supposed to be fun. So on to the Apple Store.
Encounters with Geniuses
Ahhhhh. The beautiful Apple Store. A shiny, clean, beacon of light, activity and commerce, like some Millenial version of heaven. Kenwood Towne Centre, Saturday morning, 11 a.m. I’m told this is one of the busiest Apple Stores in the world, and it certainly was that morning. I fought my way to the laptop area, hoping to make eye contact with one of the Geniuses. (In case you’ve been living under a rock, we call Apple salespeople “Geniuses.” And by using that term, I’m not being sarcastic or ironic; these kids are smart and well-trained). No Genius came my way, so I persevered by myself. I typed. I surfed. I picked up and carried. The only thing I didn’t do was have my questions answered.
Finally I approached a pack of Geniuses. (Swarm? Herd? Gaggle?) I asked if I could please get some help with a laptop. “Of course you can!!!” a Genius responded, diverting me to another Genius, who must have been the Genius Boss, as she had the clipboard. “Chelsea, can we get this woman some help with a laptop?” “OF COURSE WE CAN!!!!” responded the energetic and accommodating Chelsea, staring at her clipboard. “Let me put you on the waiting list! We’re currently looking at a 90 minute wait time.”
No. Seriously? No. I have about 5 questions, and then I want to hand you A LOT of money for one of your products. And you want me to wait 90 minutes for that? I literally laughed at energetic Chelsea. “I’ll pass.”
I wandered back to the laptops, certain I could figure this out on my own. I couldn’t. I guess they are called Geniuses for a reason. So five minutes later, I was back in front of Chelsea, sheepishly admitting that I needed help, and requesting a spot on that wait list. Yep, still 90 minutes. But here’s the straw that broke this camel’s back: they wouldn’t text or email me when it was my turn. They wanted me to STAND at the laptop display table for NINETY MINUTES until the magical clipboard granted me access to a Genius.
Not going to happen. I left, as a matter of principle. No laptop, and no closer to a laptop than before — cutting off my nose to spite my face, as they say. It’s tough being a woman of principle.
Down, But Not Defeated
Turns out the Apple store is not the only place that carries Apple laptops. On to Best Buy!
Guess what we found at Best Buy? Every single Apple model I had looked at at the Apple Store. All were on display and ready for me to try. Once again, I typed, I surfed, I picked up and carried. But the big difference? I was approached immediately by a salesperson who offered to help. He was amazingly knowledgeable and had been very well-trained. Then I noticed that he wasn’t wearing a Best Buy uniform; he was wearing an Apple uniform! I had found my very own Genius, ready and willing to help me, immediately. He was awesome. He answered every question I had, from installation to apps, battery issues, weight and dimensions, storage and memory. We were in and out in 15 minutes.
So that’s my hot tip: for your next Apple product — if you don’t mind missing the glamour and trendiness of the Apple Store, but you would like your questions answered promptly and professionally — check out Best Buy.
Apple Laptop Choices, In Terms a Novice Can Understand
Let’s get it on the table that I am not enamored of new technology. I hate the change, learning curve, and the cost. There is no joy for me in a purchase like this. I’m not interested in a lot of bells and whistles I won’t use, but I don’t want to end up with a product that will lack the functionality I need. I want to make the right decision, and spend my dollars wisely.
Nor am I a tech expert. So this analysis is light on technical expertise, and is all about accessibility and functionality. Since I knew I wanted an Apple system, my available choices were:
Apple MacBook 12″: This is the lightest and smallest. I could immediately tell that the screen would not be big enough for me. For blogging I need to be able to have a few different screens available at once (photos, browser, blog, etc.), plus I’ve had some eye issues so that I have to keep my fonts rather larger. I could eliminate this choice.
Apple MacBook Air 13.3″ Display : At an inch larger than the MacBook, the MacBook Air is still small, but is light and portable. This would have been my choice before the blog, but I think now I need the advanced storage, memory, and visuals. (As I write this, Apple is introducing a new New MacBook Air with Retina Display)
It looked like the MacBook Pro would be a better fit for my blogging needs. At that point I had three alternatives: the MacBook Pro 13″ without Touch Bar , the MacBook Pro 13″ with Touch Bar , and the MacBook Pro 15″ with Touch Bar.
The touch bar is a snazzy new feature. It changes depending on what app is being accessed, and gives you a short-cut for functions:
It also allows for fingerprint recognition sign-in, rather than typing passwords. Pretty nifty! As I studied the laptops, the touch bar seemed very cool, but didn’t strike me as a necessity. If I were getting the 13″ MacBook pro, I would have to choose between touch bar or no touch bar. The 15″, on the other hand, is only available with the touch bar. And of course you pay more for the touch bar.
As I was ambivalent about the touch bar, my decision came down to size. Obviously there is a trade-off either way. A 13″ is going to be lighter and easier to fit in a bag or carry-on, but has a smaller screen, and the 15″ is going to be heavier and unwieldy, but gives my tired eyes a break and allows me to have more screen room to work. I finally concluded that while I will travel with my laptop, the small percentage of time spent toting it is negligible compared to the amount of time spent using it. Therefore, I chose MacBook Pro 15″.
This is the most expensive of all the laptops I was considering, so I had to take a deep breath before committing. A few things came in to consideration. First, I didn’t want to be penny-wise and pound foolish, and decide in a year that I didn’t have the functionality that I needed. Second, I have found my Apple products to last forever — my old Mac desktop lasted for 9 years — so I know I won’t have to run out and replace this in a year due to workmanship or obsolescence. While pricey, it seemed like a safe investment.
Did I Make A Good Choice?
I love having a laptop. I love the mobility; I have travelled with it and also taken it to meetings around town. And as for my specific choice, I am delighted. Yes, it does make my bag heavy, and the 13″ would have been one pound lighter. But I love the size of the screen. I can do everything that I do on my desk top. I would not have wanted any smaller. And since the 15″ came with a touch bar, I got a touch bar. Was that worth it? I didn’t need it, and I could fully function without it. I would not have purchased it if I could have gotten a 15″ without it. But now that I have it, I use it a lot, and I really like it, and I might actually purposefully pay for it in the future.
So now I can leave my office, and have a change of venue while I work. But I’m still not heading to Disney World during spring break.