Buying a laptop is a big deal for any geek, even more so, when it's your very first one. And I had waited a very long time to buy mine. All through my undergraduate college, i procrastinated buying one, keeping it for the day when i really needed it. Finally, when i moved to the US for my MS, I decided it was time enough.
I had decided on a few things that I really wanted in my future laptop-
1) Thin and light body-- Ultra-portable for daily college use
2) 4th gen i7 processor, 8GB RAM-- Enough to handle Engineering software
3) Minimalist design with limited ports-- Personal aesthetic choice
4) No DVD drive-- The rare use of it is not worth lugging around the weight everyday
5) Great Battery Life
I also tend to be very brand conscious when it comes to technology-you get what you pay for. As such, I had decided to mostly stick to Apple, Dell and Sony only. I had heard way too many reliability issues about HP and I personally do not like Lenovo's design language. I believe owning a device and loving a device are two different things and the difference affects how you perceive and use the device. As such, if a brand doesn't excite me, I avoid it. I did visit all the stores though, just to see what each had on offer.
No matter how much you advise the world on all matters technology, choosing one for yourself is never an easy task. Sony did not have anything that suited what I was looking for. I did not like the new Inspiron series from Dell and most of their models weren't yet on the 4th gen processor bandwagon anyway. I loved Dell's XPS 13 but it cost as much a Macbook Air. XPS 14 was tempting, but a few bad reviews made me leave it alone.
I did not want to buy the 2012, non Retina Macbook Pros with 3rd gen proc either because I had read some great reviews about the new Intel processors and their associated battery life. Also, their DVD drive made them way too heavy for my liking.
I have loved the Macbook Air for a very long time now. I think its the epitome of beautiful, minimalist design and off late, versatility. Even better, they already received the 4th gen update earlier in the year. However, they offered way too low a spec for the price they charged. I did not feel like paying a $1200+ price for a 1.3Ghz processor. I arrived in US in August-right when the rumors of a new Macbook were in the air. They predicted a possibly new form factor. However, their release date was uncertain and I wasn't sure how I'd survive my MS without a laptop. In one moment of weakness, I even ordered an HP Envy 15t-j100 Quad edition laptop. As luck would have it, HP declined that order due to some technical reasons and I took that as Universe's hint that it was time for a Macbook. I went through 3 month of my MS program using the computing facilities on campus( hat tip to Arizona State Uni's computing infrastructure) and some generous help from my room mates. Finally, Apple announced their new Retina Macbook Pros on October 22nd 2013. Just 3 days later, i got my hands on my very own 2013 Macbook Pro with Retina display. They also almost-discontinued their old, non-Retina Macbook Pros, vindicating my decision to wait.
A lot of people who know me believe I'm an Apple fanboy. I disagree. I have my reasons for loving a few of their products, just the way I like Microsoft's or Google's. However I do believe Macbooks are one of the best laptops out there and I was inclined towards them due to a few solid reasons. Before taking the final decision, I did the following analysis.
I realized that the things going FOR the Macbook Pro are one that I'd deal with every single time I use the Macbook. On the other hand I wasn't even sure if I'd ever need a graphics card or a top of the line i7 processor. Most average modern day computers can easily handle the engineering software I plan to use and most seniors in college told me that I'd hardly be pushing the system to its limits. The Macbook Pro hit most of my checkboxes, and the compromises seemed reasonable.
As far as cost is concerned, i noticed an interesting fact. If you search for used, 2011 laptops on ebay, every other brand's laptop sells for hardly a $100. Macbooks on the other hand routinely sell for an upwards of $600. Considering the average life of a laptop to be 3 years, buying a Macbook would actually end up costing me lesser than any other brand with comparable specifications at the end of its expected usage period. In exchange, I would get great build quality and a beautiful laptop with a proven track record. My Laptop would be the single most used device by me in next 2 years of my MS. It made sense to invest in a good one.
I also admit that the hype about Apple did play its role. But its not hype for the sake of it. I routinely frequent http://usesthis.com, a site that compiles the computing habits of some interesting folks. 99% of the people listed on the site use a Mac. A lot of very smart people swear by their Macs. It even finds mention on Alex Payne's Rules for computing happiness- a set of rules that seem very sensible to me. I refuse to believe that so many people go gaga over their macs just because they paid through their nose for it. There has to be a very good reason why people love them so much. And I wanted to find it out myself.
I asked a lot of people for suggestions about laptops. For every brand, people suggested I buy a laptop of a brand different from what they owned. Almost everybody had issues with their Dells and HPs and Sonys. However, every Macbook owner I asked said there was no way they'd go back to any other laptop brand, and they meant it.
Considering all these factors, it felt right to take the risk and pay for a Mac. Its now been over 2 months since I bought the Macbook and I love it. It has its share of negatives but all in all, buying it was a great decision. The Macbook deserves a review of its own and I'll write one soon. But this is it- this is why i bought a Macbook.