Most helpful positive review
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2011
AppleCare is both an extended warranty and an extension of phone support. It extends the warranty from one year to three, and phone support from 90 days to three years. Note that if you purchase a display at the same time you purchase your MacBook Pro, AppleCare for your computer also covers your display.
It's impossible to predict if you'll get your money's worth out it or not, as that will be determined by whether or not your MacBook Pro needs any repairs in the second or third year and how likely you are to need the extended phone support. I'll just tell you my story so you'll understand why I gave AppleCare five stars.
I purchased AppleCare with my first MacBook Pro, which I bought in May, 2006, along with a 30" Cinema Display. The computer, just over five years old at this point, has never needed a repair. However, the batteries in that model clearly had problems. If you don't use the computer on the battery a fair bit the battery goes bad. Once that happens, you can still use the computer on the battery, but at some point the computer will just shut down. No warning, it doesn't go to sleep, and the battery indicator in the menu bar says it still has plenty of charge.
I had at least three batteries replaced under AppleCare, maybe four, and the last one was actually after the three years of AppleCare were up. But I fussed at them for using what I considered a faulty design for the batteries and in the interest of customer satisfaction they gave me one last battery, which they didn't have to do.
The display, on the other hand, did need a repair. It just died and wouldn't light up. I called Apple and explained the problem. They shipped me a box overnight. I packed up the display and called FedEx to arrange a pickup the next day. Unfortunately the folks at Apple couldn't reproduce the problem, so they shipped it back and sure enough it worked. Some time later, after the three years were up and it was no longer covered under AppleCare, the problem recurred. Since it was out of warranty at that point I did some testing and eventually figured out that the problem only showed up if I plugged the display's USB or FireWire connector into my computer, something I didn't normally do. So I called Apple to see what it would cost to repair, and after explaining the history the guy offered to repair it for free since they missed the problem when I sent it in the first time. Again, they went above and beyond their legal obligation.
In general I've found Apple's service to be top notch. My Time Capsule's power supply died. They overnighted a box to me, had FedEx pick it up, fixed it, and overnighted it back to me. They never try to weasel out of doing a repair and even cover them when they don't have to, which I think is very cool.
In my experience, when you call for phone support you get really nice people, located in America, who are generally pretty helpful. Without AppleCare phone support is free for 90 days and $50 per incident after that. With AppleCare it's free for three years. So if you upgrade your OS two years from now and have a problem you can call them for help and it's free. How much this is worth to you just depends on you and whether you know someone who can help if you have a problem.
So for me AppleCare was totally worth it and I had absolutely no complaints. If you're pretty Mac/computer savvy and use the battery right AppleCare may not be a good value for you. You have a year to buy it after you buy the computer, so you have the option to wait and see how things go. If you make it to the end of the year and haven't had any problems you might decide it's not worth the $300.
On the other hand, if you need to replace a battery within the first year, need phone support at times, or it comes out that your model has a component with a higher-than-expected failure rate, you'll probably want to get the AppleCare coverage. Just remember you have to buy it while the computer is still covered under the original one-year warranty.
I just bought a new MacBook Pro. The current plan is to see how things go for the first year and decide near the end if I think AppleCare makes sense for this one. I think the new ones use a better battery design, so I'm hoping I won't I won't have the battery problems I had before.
Hope that helps.