When to upgrade or replace your digital devices is a common question and it can take a lot of research to provide a good answer. The MacRumors site provides a buyers guide for Apple devices that makes these purchases a whole lot easier. They show how long since the device has been last updated compared to the average duration between updates and list some of the rumors on possible new features. Based on the available information they make a recommendation on whether now is a good time to buy.
Using the MacBook Pro as an example.
I am thinking of upgrading my MacBook Pro which I have had for over 5 years. That is excellent value considering the number of product updates that have have occurred. I upgraded the hard drive to 320GB when the original drive failed and the MacBook Pro has served me well. Now the first generation Intel core duo processor won’t run the latest OSX Lion operating system and also 5 of my applications. This model only supports a maximum of 2 GB RAM so a replacement that could support 8 GB would really help performance especially when running many applications simultaneously which I tend to do. I am trying to develop the habit of focussing on using just a few complimentary applications at one time but old habits die hard.
MacRumors buyers guide is neutral about purchasing a new MacBook right now which agrees with my own upgrade plan. While the existing MacBooks would be a substantial upgrade for me it seems prudent to wait until the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors are introduced mid-2012. There are also rumours of a possible new high resolution (retina) display. I can also hope that the maximum memory supported could increase (the Air might go from 4 to 8 GB and maybe the Pro could increase too). With more time the price of a solid state drive (SSD) might go down to speed things up even more.
I find the buyers guide provides a pretty good at a glance summary with trustworthy recommendations but there could be a few improvements:
- Apple doesn’t emphasize specs because the overall experience is what matters but upcoming processor speeds and maximum memory support are nevertheless of interest
- Component and other price trends could influence purchase timing too
- Product outlook while speculative is a big consideration (e.g. Will the Macbook Pro line be replaced soon by the Macbook Air?)
All in all the product guide is very useful with an uncomplicated overview of all the devices we have come to love. I can see I will also need to keep in mind that a new iPad 3 might become available around the same time as the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air refreshes so 2012 will have lots to look forward to.