OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

Summary: Does Apple's value prop play well in schools? Not often, but it did the trick for my this week.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

OK, I actually leased it, but still, this is me we're talking about. I like Macs, but I've never been particularly bullish on their value. And who likes Steve Jobs and Apple's Draconian control over everything, anyway? Give me open source or give me death, right?!?!

As I discussed earlier this month, Macs seem to be everywhere, especially on college campuses. Not only did I actually need to buy one of these for my son for his own college program, but as I configured a system for him I started wondering if Apple equipment just might not satisfy my own needs for my fledgling consulting business. They offered business discounts, for example, that were greater than the academic discounts my son would receive at his school, they were quick to approve me for great lease rates (despite being a new business with minimal credit history), and I was able to include both software and hardware in the lease costs. Fortunately, my son will also be my videographer, podcast producer, and general AV guy for my business, having several times my creativity, making his computer eligible for the lease and a legitimate business expense.

Since the minimum lease amount was $5000, there was no better time to pick up the items I've been holding off buying: a laptop, a new router, backup equipment, and a decent printer/scanner/copier/fax. And yet while my initial interest in Apple (at least in this case) was to meet my son's needs, the utter simplicity of Time Capsule backups (I needed both a wireless access point and a backup solution) and the thin, light, rugged MacBook Pro that could run Adobe CS5 without breaking a sweat ended up being too much to resist.

p align="right">Next: Yeah, but a Mac? »

At first I felt a little weird about signing on the dotted line for those lease docs. After all, I haven't been incredibly kind to Apple in this blog over the years. Even as I've seen the inherent value in iLife and OS X, the lack of real entry-level or multi-user environments was just too much for me to stomach in most educational settings. However, my needs aren't those of a school or the average student. My son is even meaner to his computers than I am and we both need something portable, powerful, and durable. In the durable, thin-and-light, power user laptop category, Macs fare much better than they do in the ultra-cheap categories where many schools need to live if they wish to head down the 1:1 road.

And $500 for a 2TB wireless backup drive that doubles as a high-end consumer 802.11n access point? That works with built-in software on 3 of the Macs in the house to ensure that our critical files are always backed up? And that can also act as a wireless print server? That has a whole lot of value, too. For me, for consumers, and for many SMBs, that is. For most schools, a backup system and solid wireless infrastructure will come out of enterprise systems, so once again, the Time Machine backup device I have coming wouldn't make the grade in many school settings.

As always, it comes down to clearly defining your needs and allowing your needs to dictate your budget rather than allowing a budget to dictate what you can afford. That's actually the beauty of leasing, regardless of your industry and, in this case, a lease allowed me to get a couple of high-end, extremely portable, easy to use, rough and tumble laptops at a price I can stomach every month. Every one of those qualities added more value for me as a content producer and small business owner than they would in the average classroom. Where iPod Touches or Intel Classmates might have the most value in a given classroom, neither of these would come close to meeting my needs or those of, for example, a graphic arts program in a technical high school.

The questions then become,

  • What do you need?
  • What do you have to do financially to afford what you need (e,g,, leasing, financing, grant writing, soliciting donations, etc.)?

Answer those questions and you might walk away with a truck full of iMacs or a box full of netbooks. Talk back and let me know what your own needs analyses are turning up.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • and the best part...

    when your lease runs out and you think of upgrading to the newest gear after 3-5 years, apple hardware still has a high resale value. you will be probably make 30% of the money back in cash at that point. talk about surprisingly low tco.
    banned from zdnet
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @banned from zdnet I guess you missed the day in class where they taught what LEASE means. Specifically, you don't OWN what you've leased. At the end of the lease period you either give it back for $0.00 or make an absurdly large balloon payment to buy the 3 year old equipment. Resale value means nothing in the lease world.
      • @Scubajrr Lease buyouts vary greatly

        Some equipment leases allow you to buy the equipment at End of Term (EoT) for market value. However, a lot more leases allow you to buyout the equipment for 10% to as low as $1. These latter leases are generally the ones you get when you buy hardware that will still be functional at EoT end but will have upgraded models that are more attractive to first time buyers. <br><br>It is actually quite expensive for a lessor to inspect, accept and dispose of used leased equipment and they would much rather accept a buyout. Specifically, equipment OEMs will choose the smaller lease buyouts mainly because they don't want to have to dispose of used equipment/devices that would otherwise compete with and lower the perceived value of their new products. However, if a third party sells off only a few units for a high resale cost, that only reinforces the perceived value of the new products.<br><br>The last time I checked, Apple did not have a used, refurb or discontinued product page for selling old products (like Sony does or used to). So what do you think they would do with returned equipment? And at what cost?
      • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

        @jacarter:"The last time I checked, Apple did not have a used, refurb or discontinued product page for selling old products..."
        Actually you can get some pretty good deals on refurbished products at the online Apple store-
      • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

        @jcarter3: They sell it to people who dispose of off lease hardware. Look up any 2 or 3 year old laptop on ebay and you will run across people selling "off lease" hardware, everything from printers to servers.
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @Christopher: "And who likes Steve Jobs and Apple?s Draconian control over everything, anyway? Give me open source or give me death, right?!?!"

      Most non-Mac users falsely believe that Mac OS X is a "closed" operating system, and that Windows is an "open" one... even though the opposite is true.

      They don't realize that Apple has made the underlying operating system called Darwin OS( open source, and Darwin in turn is based on the open source UNIX BSD.

      Apple has made many other of its software technologies open source as well, such as WebKit, and it also contributes to and uses many open source technologies as components of Mac OS X (

      On the other hand Windows OS is, and always has been a closed, proprietary operating system. Nothing in it is open source.
      Harvey Lubin
      • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

        @Harvey Lubin

        I don't think anybody thinks Windows is open source. I sure as hell have never met anyone who thought so, even though their consensus is that Apple's proprietary work is just that, and that they are quite controlling in terms of the ecosystem.
      • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

        @Harvey Lubin

        <i>and that they are quite controlling in terms of the ecosystem.</i>

        Offering an ecosystem is not the same as making anyone use it.

        Apple offers everything - but you are not locked in at all.

        iTunes is drag and drop - and the first thing it asks after install is do you want it to find other music on your system and load it into iTunes, so far from being limited to Apple purchased music, it wants to help you use your other content.

        The App store does not rule out Web Apps from other sources.

        There are many third parties making hardware and accessories for Macs - alway have been.

        Developer software for Macs is not only free, it's in the box.

        Where exactly is there any sort of control?
      • How is Apple software "open"

        The last company that ran it on a PC was sued by Apple in your courts.

        Yet I have never heard of Microsoft going after someone for building a system capable of running Windows. Can a company truelly be called "open" if they can tell you what you are allowed to run their products on?
        Tim Cook
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @banned from zdnet

      We bought an iMac (+ AppleCare) for $2400 over 2 years ago.
      Just sold it (at the 2.4 year mark) for $1200 USD.
      Cost to us (for <b>business</b> use) = $41/month.
      • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

        @davebarnes Now, apply your formula to a good PC.
        Feldwebel Wolfenstool
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @banned from zdnet <br>We bought an iMac (+ AppleCare) for $2400 over 2 years ago.<br>Just sold it (at the 2.4 year mark) for $1200 USD.<br>Cost to us (for <b>business</b> use) = $41/month.
  • Congratulations on your purchase.

    I wish you many long months of productivity and enjoyment with your new Apple gear. However, as NZ will most likely point out, when you signed on the dotted line, did you notice the fine print? Most people don't but if you look closely, you can see a few lines written in a language which I will not utter here. But in the common tongue, it states "...One Apple to rule them all, One Apple to find them, One Apple to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." Or so I'm told. Still, during the last five years that I've been using Apple gear, I've not turned into a wraith. But then again, my friends all say I look remarkably young for my age. Hmm.
  • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

    Time Capsule (more than a few early models) encountered serious and fatal hard drive failures. I believe Apple has issued a recall for those models or a free replacement. I have not heard of any recent Time Capsule hardware problems though. I know a Time Capsule backup has saved me a few times. Nice to have that feature available and integrated into the OS.
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      Yeah I heard about that, but as you say, it seems the problems have now been fixed. I actually hear it's often a good idea to stay away from a first iteration of new Apple hardware, although I don't know to what extent that's true.
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @kenosha7777 You know, for a customer of mine, I purchased an HP Home Media Server. I threw in a few of the cheap TB SATA drives. He now has a 3TB back up device for all the computers in his office and it doubles as a file server. All this for around $500 also. There are also Linux based versions of these devices, not from HP but, other inexpensive "Home" NAS devices. It's all a mater of doing your research. Having a son with a NEED for Mac, yeah, I understand the decision to standardize but, there are other good options on the market.
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @yozzman<br><br>It's good to avoid the first iteration of any hardware/software really.<br><br>The incidences of problems is pretty small - but taking anything from testing to millions of users will throw up the circumstances that were not found in testing.<br><br>Any backup solution should also be backed up if you want real protection. The only issue I have with using a Time Machine is that the drive is internal, so a controller failure is going to make for a much worse day than an external drive issue.<br><br>Plugging an HD into a Mac gives you Time Machine backup for that machine.<br><br>You can also use file sharing to offer this across the network.<br><br>You can also use an external HD on an Airport Extreme to do the same.<br><br>@ianr@...<br><br>Yes OK - and you can just plug 3TB of drives into a Mac and get exactly the same thing - a networked 3TB backup solution.<br><br>Or plug it into an Airport - same deal.<br><br>OK it won't be SATA but so what?

      Just because you can mess about with hardware and achieve something does not mean a mac user cannot plug in some plugs and turn on Time Machine and file sharing and get the same.

      Why do PC people always want to say 'Hey I can do that - I just fool around with hardware - and I have an alternative'?

      Yes - of course you do!!

      I can build an Electric car - dead easy - doesn't make me say that every time a Prius is mentioned.
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      "Fatal hard driver failures" Ummm if that was the case that is nothing to do with Apple hardware. Ever opened up a Time Capsule or a Mac for that matter? They have Seagate, Fujitsu or Hitachi hard drives in them, no such thing as an "Apple hard drive". Apple, like every PC "manufacturer" just sources third party parts and package them up with their own labels on them. Intel processors, Nvidia video chip, Matsushita DVD drives . . . the list goes on. So any hard drive failures would have been due to whatever drive manufacturer was chosen for that product.
    • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

      @kenosha7777 I've faithfully saved my data to optical discs and hard drive. NEVER EVER needed to be "saved" in 9 years. XP, Vista, and 7. 2 machines...
      Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • RE: OMG! I just bought $5400 worth of Apple gear!

    Time Capsule works best if you do your initial backup over wired ethernet, FYI