On the weekend, I'll take delivery of a MacBook Pro 17, which will become my main computing machine for the next few years. The way that I purchased it will show you how you can take advantage of the holidays and still save some money. Since I'm a PC guy, I'll also share the different programs that I'll install over the weekend.
I'm currently a graduate student in Taipei, Taiwan, but Macs are expensive here. They are at least 10-15% more expensive here than in the US. Couple this with the education discount that students can get in the US, which is at least 10%, it made a lot of sense for me to have my wife buy my MacBook Pro and bring it over for the holidays. By my estimate, between the MSRP here in Taiwan and the education price in the US, including state taxes, I've saved about $500.
You can definitely use this principle with your family and friends who are students when they come up to visit you over the holidays. While you might not save $500, you'll definitely save at least 10%. If you're shopping for Macs sand Apple products during the holidays, it's best to make the detour to an Apple store. They have plenty of Macs in stock, which smaller stores, like the ones in Urbana-Champaign, IL, had to order.
If you're wondering about how I paid for this, cash or credit, well it's a mixture of both. I wired over the total amount of this purchase to my wife, and she bought the Mac then transfered the balance from her bank account to her credit card. So when the MacBook Pro arrives on the weekend, it will be completely paid off, which I'm pretty happy about.
As for the software that I'll install, here's my short list:
1. MS Office '11
I can't live without MS Office and I look forward to trying this new version on Mac. There's one thing that the PC MS Word '10 doesn't do and that's a full screen mode, that cuts out all of the distractions. It's important when you do a lot of writing.
2. Adobe Photoshop CS5
I do all of my photo editing in Photoshop and since I use it daily, it's a must.
3. Aperture Pro
This image editing software is Mac-only and I've always wanted to try it out.
4. Other Adobe Products
I use Acrobat Pro, Illustrator, and Lightroom, so these will also have to be installed.
5. Math Software
I'm a graduate student in Mathematics. This means that I need Mathematica, MATLAB, and Maple installed as well.