April 10, 2006

How to get a MacBook Pro and an iPod for the price of a dinner date

After a feature I wrote for DVguru made it onto the front page of digg, Slashdot, and tech.memeorandum over the weekend (and got linked to by over 250 web sites), the last thing I should do is write a post on my own site about computers. I'm a filmmaker, not a nerd/geek/other-derogatory-techie-term, right?

Whatever. I'm too comfortable with my offline machinations to be self-conscious about my recent foray into online tech journalism. Although I will say that I learned a valuable lesson about the current state of the internet and the way traffic spikes--frankly, for the feature, my review methodology was not at all sound, and I was merely trying to get the review up before the weekend officially started, yet the timing ended up being more important than anything else. Regardless, I found it amusing when, in response to my recent propensity for blogging, someone called me a "nerrrrrrd" (via IM), especially when that someone hosts a weekly videogame show on GameSpot (just kidding, Rich).

Anyway, after much finagling, my MacBook Pro is on its way. Yes, I'm switching to a Mac. Why? Well, in this case, Final Cut Pro was a strong enough gateway drug to convince me to pay a visit to the dealer. Also, while I'm all-too familiar with the innards of PCs, I was tired of the paradox of choice--in Windows, there are too many applications and controls, and I just want the damn thing to work so I can be productive. I'll keep my HP workstation around as a big, messy box of applications, storage space, and virus-protectors, and I'll use the Mac laptop as a nice, pared-down, mobile model of productivity. That's the theory, at least.

There are a number of drawbacks to my decision to switch to Mac, chief of which is my inability to use Microsoft OneNote, which is a terrific idea/journal/organizer program. Furthermore, one thing is undeniable: PCs are cheaper. And seeing as I haven't been gainfully employed in almost a year, I was asked by a friend, "how in the hell are you affording this?" Good question.

After spending most the day in a Connecticut coffee shop, writing by hand on blank, unlined paper (I accidentally left my legal pad at a friend's house in DC), I realized it was time to bite the bullet. So how does a starving artist with no full-time employment afford not only a MacBook Pro, but also another nonessential Apple purchase made back in December? If you head over to Apple.com and order a 2GHz MacBook Pro and 60GB video iPod, with tax, you're looking at a hefty fee of $3,100. In my case, though, the two devices are going to end up costing me almost nothing. Here's how:

-$2000: My Emerging Artist Grant from the NEA/DAC. I'm going to end up splitting the $2k between the MacBook and a copy of Final Cut Studio, but for now, it's all going towards the laptop.
-$310: I actually got a free iPod from freeipods.com (I would not, NOT recommend this to anyone else), and promptly sold it on eBay (this was back when I was still anti-Apple).
-$267: My old MP3 player, a Rio Karma, bit the dust while it was still covered under Best Buy's extended replacement plan, and they sent me a full refund. I used this towards the new iPod.
-$200: Amazon.com does not have physical retail stores like Apple does, so there is no sales tax.
-$150: Amazon also has a substantial mail-in rebate on the laptop.
-$75: I actually signed up for the Amazon VISA card, because of the rewards you get on a purchase of this size, and because...
-$30: Amazon also offers an instant discount for signing up for their card (this is the first time I've ever bit on one of these offers).

So, when it's all said and done, for over $3,000 of Apple hardware, what did I pay out-of-pocket?


Here in New York, that'll get you a steak, a vegetarian dish for your date, and a couple of cocktails. Depending on the restaurant, maybe just the steak.

If you're an affluent first-worlder (not a word, I know), being cheap is one of the ugliest qualities you can possess--it's just paper, it's just numbers, it's just money. I'm not trying to encourage penny-penching. But if being smart with your money can enable you--and I consider both of these purchases to enable me to get a lot of work done in the short-term, and to be a better filmmaker in the long run--then it's obviously worth it. Thanks to the Durham Arts Council for the grant (this is a sad excuse for a thank you post, but my original post was lost to the wolves and the time for re-writing it has passed), and thanks to...

Wait, I almost forgot--as a filmmaker, both of these items are tax-deductible! By the time I'm done cooking the books, they're going to be paying me.

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1 Comment

Good luck with your machine when it arrives! I hate thinking about PCs ever since I've been heavily using Macs three years ago. Yes, it will totally be worth the investment.

April 15, 2006 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:14AM