Why I Bought a Used MacBook Instead of a MacBook Air


The new MacBook Air (s aapl) is guaranteed to be on many a Christmas list this year, and I’ve been dead set on getting one ever since it was announced. So how did I end up typing this on a four-year-old black MacBook that I bought on eBay(s ebay)?


I won this MacBook on eBay for $330, minus shipping. The starting price for the MacBook Air is $1000. Like many potential Mac buyers, I’m a full-time college student. Buying the MacBook saved me $670 that I can spend on other stuff, like tuition, or food, which helps me remain alive.


One of the biggest complaints I hear about the new MacBook Air is that you can’t upgrade it yourself. The battery can’t be removed and you can’t upgrade the memory or flash storage after purchase.

I can do all of that on my used MacBook. I’ve already ordered a 1GB stick of RAM, and I’m looking at getting a 40GB Intel SSD. Currently, it has a whopping 150GB, 512MB of RAM, and a speedy 2 GHz Core Duo (s intc) processor. Even if right now it’s not winning any speed races, when I put the extra RAM in and upgrade to an SSD, it should perform almost as well as a new MacBook Air.

And yes, those upgrades will drive the price up by about $100, but that’s far less than what I’d spend on an Air.


I’m not a graphic designer, or a computer gamer, nor do I do any kind of video work. I’m a writer, and writing doesn’t take much in the way of resources. My entire documents folder on my main machine takes up about 30 MBs of space. I used to write on a substandard Dell (s dell) with broken hinges, and I managed. It’s nice to have the latest tech, but it’s also worth taking a step back and evaluating whether it’s also necessary, given your usage habits.

What About the iPad?

I’ve been using my iPad to take notes in class for the last few weeks, and it’s been frustrating at times. I’m not fast enough on the virtual keyboard to take effective notes, and then it’s annoying to have to go back and correct all the typos I make. That said, I do love how light the iPad is and how easy it is to stow it away. But that doesn’t make up for its deficiencies. For all the good an iPad provides, it still doesn’t have the power or versatility of a Mac running OS X.


I won’t pretend I don’t still want the MacBook Air, or that I don’t drool over it when I pass by the Apple kiosk at Best Buy (s bby). But I’m also happy with my decision, since my Mac is doing exactly what I need it to do, and doing it well.

What do you think? Am I insane for using an older computer rather than getting the fastest and shiniest new thing? Or is choosing the right machine for your current habits a better policy than investing in the latest and greatest? Tell us in the comments.

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