Q-Review: Buy a Mac for cheap at the Apple Special Deals site

refurb.jpgWhen it comes to the computer of your choice, it’s tough to tout yourself as budget conscious *and* a Mac user and come off as credible. Macs aren’t cheap computers. If you’re in the market for a $300 computer, you won’t find something in an Apple store. But Macs are *good* computers, and everybody seems to want one. But, and I’m speaking from experience, it seems like Apple’s offerings are always just a little bit more than one wants to spend at the time.

But this doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to the Windows world forever just because you want to save a few bucks. There is a solution for you: The Apple Special Deals website.

The Apple Special Deals website is a secret little spot where they sell refurbished computers and iPods at a significant discount. Rob Griffiths recently published an article on Macworld.com describing his experience buying a refurbished MacBook Pro, and I thought I’d just throw in my 2 cents on the topic.

I’ve had nothing but good experiences when buying refurbished Apple goods. I bought 2 iPods and my current MacBook Pro for about 20 to 30% off, saving a ton of money. When I bought the laptop, I saved so much that I was able to buy a 3-year Applecare warranty and 4GB of RAM from a 3rd party vendor and *still* spent less than I would have if I bought new.

There are a couple of drawbacks to buying this way, however. Buying refurbished isn’t the exact same purchasing experience as buying new, and there are few things that you’ll want to be aware of going in:

The most significant drawback is the lack of customizability. You can’t configure your new machine; they’re offered as is. No bigger hard drive, no bumping up of RAM. You’re stuck with the model that they’re selling.

Another factor you’ll want to consider is that the inventory isn’t static. I found this out when I was in the market for a new iPod. One day, I checked the site and the one I wanted was there: the white 60GB model. I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger, so I put it off. Next day, credit card in hand, I hit the site prepared to place my order only to find that the white model was no longer available. I had to settle for the black one. Bottom line, there’s no guarantee that the one you want will be there when you’re ready to buy.

Lastly, and this isn’t really a drawback unless you’ve got odd priorities, the packaging that the new hardware arrives in is plain old brown cardboard. None of the fancy, nicely designed packaging that Apple is famous for. Everything’s in the box that’s supposed to be there, but it’s just a barebones shipping carton. And if you think about it, that might just be a positive instead of a negative in the grand scheme of things.

The Apple Special deals site seems to be the best, most affordable way to buy your next Mac or iPod, and I’m convinced that, barring special and unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be making all future computer and iPod purchases there.

### Links

[Apple Special Deals](http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals)