Choice is good, right, so the more choice the better? But in the world of business, there’s the concept of ‘overchoice’, or ‘choice overload’.
To quote from Wikipedia, “The phenomenon of overchoice occurs when many equivalent choices are available. Making a decision becomes overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice.”
So this is exactly what has stopped me buying a new MacBook, even though it’s obvious I need one. Even before the M2 processor, just announced, I already had too many choices and – since MacBooks cannot be upgraded or modified later – I HAD to get it right.
I have some basic specs I want to match: at least 16GB RAM, a fast processor for both stills and video editing, a good screen for high-res screenshots, a good selection of ports, probably a 512GB SSD (I use external drives anyway).
That’s easy to achieve with a whole bunch of MacBooks... and that's the problem.
How do I choose a MacBook NOW?
I’m quoting prices in US dollars as a kind of universal currency – I just want to show the problems with pricing and decision-making, so it’s probably going to be similar in any currency.
Here’s why I’m stuck.
So should I get a specced-up M1 MacBook Air ($1,399), or would I be better off with a slightly more expensive 13.6-inch MacBook Pro with the new M2 processor ($1,699)? Apple seems to have dropped the old M1 13-inch MacBook Pro, which makes things a little easier, and kept the M1 chip only for the entry-level Air. But then you can also get an M2 Air with the specs I want for $1,699 (same as the new MacBook Pro – odd).
Already I can’t decide, but then it gets worse. There’s still the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro processor. That’s still better than the M2, right? I have to assume it is. That will cost me $1,999 for the same specs, so it’s not a huge leap for a bigger screen and a faster processor, AND it has an SD card slot.
But if I’m that keen on a good screen and the fastest processing, there’s also the 16-inch MacBook Pro with either the M1 Pro ($2,499) or M1 Max processor with twice the RAM (I admit I am wondering if 16GB is really enough), a 1TB SSD and the scope to spec it up far higher. But I’m already into silly money at $3,499, so this option is no good at all and I’m back where I started.
Too much choice = no sale
I am an indecisive buyer, I’ll admit that right now. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. The problem for me is that Apple makes MacBooks in four distinct series, each of which can be customized multiple ways and each of which can overlap with the one above.
My first problem is that there are, realistically, maybe five MacBooks which will be fine for me, but I can’t pick one. My second problem is that the relentless upselling of bigger screens, faster processors, more RAM and better ports does not lead me to the perfect MacBook – it spits me out at the top of a price range which is clearly beyond my budget and no wiser about where I should have stepped off the conveyor belt.
I’ve used Macs for decades. I’m a Mac fan. But unless Apple can find a way to make it easier for me to choose one without the risk of making a mistake or wishing later that I’d chosen differently, I’ll probably carry on using my 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is obviously way worse than any of them. God knows how I even made my mind up to buy THAT one.