Upgrading

11 Jun

When making decisions, people are prone to placing more weight on negative outcomes even when those outcomes are significantly less likely to occur than positive or neutral outcomes. (See Scott Plous.) In January, I bought a 15″ MacBook Pro with a Core2Duo processor. (A few short months later, an upgraded MBP was released with the new Intel i5 processor. Figures.) By the time I begin law school, this computer will be a year and a half old. It is currently covered by the AppleCare warranty (which only lasts for up to three years, if purchased), but to extend it for two years (which would cover it until midway through 2L) will cost $350.

I recently read a report that there is approximately a 17% chance that my MBP will have reliability issues within three years. Although I used an iBook G4 for four years (and my parents are now enjoying it without trouble), I have heard negative things about the most recent Apple products’ reliability — notably, that reliability is decreasing.

My concern, because I am focused more on the less than 1 in 5 chance that my computer will have issues than on the 80% chance that it won’t, is that this computer, new though it is, will not last through law school. I am terrified that it will crash at a very inopportune time. I also am unsure about dropping $350 just to cover my computer until halfway through 2L.

I am strongly leaning toward buying the MBP bundle offered by my school next summer. The bundle includes a 13″ MBP (the diminished screen size is not much of an issue for me), a three-year warranty, and loaner laptops should my computer ever crap out on me. I don’t want to replace the computer I have now. I really, really don’t. It just seems silly to spend $350 for what amounts to half-time coverage, especially when I may have to buy a new computer before the end of law school anyway (mine would be over four years old).

The three-year warranty and loaner laptop really pushes me toward buying a new computer before 1L, despite the sense of waste I will have about my current laptop. I will, of course, religiously back-up all of my work, but I would feel more secure knowing that if my computer fails before finals, I will still have a machine to work on.

As usual, I get the sense that I am over-thinking a purchase that, if it occurs, will not occur for a calendar year. Sigh.

6 Responses to “Upgrading”

  1. TheSharklord June 11, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    I’d say consider getting one. The school has a laptop loan program b/c laptops are required, so you wouldn’t have to outlay money now to finance it. Of course a wise money manager must consider the future costs and such as well as present outlays, but if you’re getting a good chunk of tuition paid for then you might as well treat yourself to a new computer. The LT Loan can cover you up to $2.5K, which means that if you choose to go it independently (as I am going to), you’ve got a generous amount of leeway to get as high power a computer as possible. I dunno if that might cover peripherals (I hope it does), but I do know if you show a receipt or an estimate of the cost,FinAid will generally just waive it through w/o giving the third degree.

    I personally will be assaulting Dell with as many upgrades as you can stuff into a laptop. If you see someone with something that looks like it came out of a spy movie (where the spy has a budget of $2.5K) that’s me.

  2. VS June 11, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    I feel fairly certain that I’ll go with the bundle (although I hope the MBP 13 has a matte screen option by then), but I hate the idea of having a perfectly good, new-ish computer that I set aside for another with tech support. But my risk averseness is probably going to make the decision for me.

    As far as whether Financial Aid is poring over computer receipts, I’ve heard that they don’t. Go for the cool peripheral gadgets!

  3. idwsj June 11, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Wait, I’m confused. Are you starting 1L next year? I thought you were deferring.

    Get a new comp. It makes backing up easier, and it’s less stress if you’re computer breaks. It’s a small investment in the law school bucket. Also, 13″, rather than 15″, makes a BIG convenience difference when you have to lug your laptop to class. Also ,a 15″ is hard to set up in class just because you’ll have limited table space (for your laptop plus, possibly, your casebook) when next to another student.

  4. VS June 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    I am deferring, but I’ve chosen to worry about this future purchase right now. I’ve decided to go with the new computer — thanks for the advice!

  5. TheSharklord June 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    One who doesn’t even procrastinate on worrying! If only I had half your work ethic, I could get through school in my sleep. 😉

  6. TDot June 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Looks like I’m late to the party and you already made your decision, *but* if you’re still open to being persuaded — I’ve got a first-generation MacBook Pro that’s still going strong after 4 years. The motherboard died back in February, but was about the cost of AppleCare to replace (and Apple had it fixed and back to me in 72 hours).

    I’d just stash the $$ on the side somewhere so you can buy a new laptop in your 2L year if you need it. There’s no telling how much more the technology will have advanced by then 🙂

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