Apple Buyers' Guide: Where To Shop And Get Support - InformationWeek

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9/11/2007
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Apple Buyers' Guide: Where To Shop And Get Support

You can get your Apple fix at the Apple Store, online, or at your local computer dealer, where you also can get help when things go wrong.

If you want to buy a Mac -- or an accessory for your current Mac -- you've got plenty of places to go.

The Apple Store

I never felt the allure of the Apple Store until I became an Apple owner myself.

Prior to buying a Mac, I dismissed the Apple Store with a shrug. I thought: It's a store. They sell Apple products. So what? Now I realize that the Apple Store is a spa for owners of Apple products. It's a place where you can relax, soak in the healing rays of Steve Jobs, and exfoliate away the residue of living in a Windows-dominated world.

Most electronics stores are like cafeterias. They're harshly lit, unpleasant environments. The merchandise is stacked up willy-nilly and hard to find. The sales staff also is hard to find, and when you do find them, they're often off in a corner somewhere chatting amongst themselves. They have better things to do than talk to the likes of you.

But the Apple buying experience is designed to make you feel special, part of the discerning few who were smart enough to break from the dirty-fingernailed Windows herd and buy products from Apple. You can buy any Apple product at an Apple Store, and many third-party accessories, such as cases and speakers for your iPod. The products are attractively laid out on tables and you're encouraged play with them -- check your Webmail on the iMacs, or look something up on Google, using the store's free Wi-Fi (Apple was one of the first retail chains to offer free Wi-Fi). The sales staff is helpful, knowledgeable, young, multiethnic, and supernaturally scrubbed and good-looking, like they all walked out of a Benetton ad.

Third-Party Retailers

However attractive the Apple store is, if you're a price-conscious consumer, you can often find better prices by shopping elsewhere.

For example, if you don't need the in-person experience, you can find good deals on the Internet. Some sites recommended to me by dedicated Mac users include:

Your friendly neighborhood Mac dealer also is a good source. Again, some recommendations from Mac enthusiasts:

If you don't live in any of those areas, ask your local Apple user group for a recommendation. You'll want to find an Apple specialist; don't just buy at any retail chain with a few Macs in the corner, you'll be paying full retail price without getting the benefit of personalized, knowledgeable service.

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