Let me preface this by saying that I have a first generation MacBook Pro that has endured like a champ, going around the entire world with me, twice. It’s survived heat, cold, humidity, and when I left my bag in a bush somewhere in the hills of Luxembourg during a rainstorm, it shook off the wetness like a Portuguese water dog. So this isn’t about the durability of Macs in general. But this new generation seems to carry a little more risk with it. So here are a couple reasons why you might want to be a little more careful with that new Mac.
1. The glass screen is irreparable if broken (obviously)
We have no reason to doubt the strength of Apple’s glass display covers (iPhone and iPod Touch breakages were far below what everyone expected), but think about this: say a rogue spoon at a coffee shop puts a crack in your glass, but the screen works fine. You can’t just replace the glass; it’s fused with the entire upper half — inseparable from the LCD screen. So instead of replacing a $30 pane of glass, you’re repairing a $500-$600 display. Oops!
Estimated cost: $500
2. The unibody design means you can’t just replace the dented bit
Remember the white MacBooks that turned yellow when you used them? Luckily, you could replace the plastic top panel for a pretty low cost. With my MBP, a ding on the right side meant a similarly low-intensity solution. Now, the new manufacturing process is fantastic, and guarantees a more rigid and durable frame, but if something should happen to it… well, either you’re hammering it out or you’re paying for a whole new “brick.” And somehow I doubt they switched to this new process because it was so cheap.
Estimated cost: $250 (arbitrary)
3. It tells on you if you spill
There are moisture sensors at the bottom of the keyboard and the top of the trackpad, right where you usually spill your coffee. If they’re tripped, it’s a dead giveaway when sending it in for repairs or reselling it that it’s had a wet past. I spilled on mine once, screamed at the coffee shop, and flipped my MBP over in time to get most of it out. I then pried off the keys and sopped up all the rest. I’ve had absolutely no problems with it since then, and it may as well have not happened. And speaking of spills…
Estimated cost: 1/4 of the resale value, or the cost of a replacement
4. The keyboard is nearly impossible to fix or replace
Check out this great teardown of the MacBook Pro. Certainly takes them a while to get to the keyboard, doesn’t it? Oh, it’s the last page. That’s because between you and the keys is every single other component in the laptop. Get some grime in there? Some tea? Hope you like screws, because there are about 80 of them to take out and put back if you want to wipe that sucker down.
Estimated cost: $150 or you can do it yourself and break it trying
5. You’ll go down in history
The first guy to crack his nice MacBook screen with a Wiimote or whatever (why not) is going to be laughed at forever. Similarly the first guy who botches a keyboard replacement or sits on the thing and bends the chassis into a butt shape. Every gadget and catch-all site on the internet will have you, your name, and your photo up within hours, with headlines like “This is why we can’t have nice things” and “What a nerd!!!” Is that what you want? No? Then for god’s sake, be careful!
Estimated cost: Whatever your dignity is worth to you
So. Scared yet? Personally, I’m not letting the threat of expensive damages hang too heavily over my head. After all, as I mentioned, my currently lappy has taken abuse of every kind and is still going strong — although the battery is shot. It’s always been an costly proposition buying a Mac, and the prospect of losing a little more cash isn’t going to scare anybody off.
But god damn am I going to laugh when you sit on that thing next week.