About the last thing I would recommend someone get when they shop for new gadgets is one of those extended warranties.
You know the ones I'm talking about. When you purchase anything at Best Buy, for example, the clerk always tries to sell you the extended warranty for another hundred bucks or so that extends the 90-day warranty to something like four more years.
Extended warranties offered by stores are a big waste of money. If the new gadget you bought was truly defective, it normally would die within the original manufacturer's warranty that comes with it. For stores that offer them, they're nothing but pure profit for the retailer.
Having said all that, there is one case you should buy an extended warranty for when you purchase a new MacBook Air or the newly-released MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
If you plan on purchasing either of those laptops, make sure you also get the AppleCare Protection Plan, which extends the usual one-year warranty to three years. They will cost another $349 if it's a MacBook Pro with Retina Display or $249 for the MacBook Air. Yes, that's a lot of money. No, I don't work for Apple.
Lord knows the richest company in the world doesn't need any more of our money. But I'm recommending it because if either of these two laptops were to fail, they're next to impossible to fix.
You see, both the MacBook Air and the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display are made in such a way that all the components are tightly packed and mostly soldered to their boards, according to tear-down reports of those machines. Many of their components, such as the battery or the solid-state drive, are designed specifically for those laptops in order to make them fit into as small a case as possible. So if the battery, the drive or the memory dies, those components can't be easily replaced. They also can't be upgraded after you initially buy the computer. The regular, cheaper MacBook Pros are not built that way, which is why I don't necessarily recommend an extended warranty for those laptops.
A representative at Expercom, one of the largest repair centers in Utah for Apple computers, confirmed that repairs can't be made.
By buying the AppleCare Protection Plan for either the Air or the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, if any hardware component fails even if it's something that can't be replaced in the machine you can still send it to an Apple store, which probably will swap out your computer for a another one.
Apple is turning more and more to this kind of design philosophy in order to make its devices as thin and small as possible. It's also, I suspect, because Apple wants to make it harder for us to upgrade our computers with a new battery, more RAM or a bigger harddrive. The company would rather just have us buy a whole new machine more often, which makes Apple more money.
Apple products are already expensive, so having to also play another $250 to $350 for an extended warranty seems like adding salt to the wound. But given that the company is headed toward making all of its products thinner and lighter, repairing them the old-fashioned way is becoming less of an option.
Verizon plans • Last week, I incorrectly described one aspect of Verizon's new pricing plans.
I wrote that customers who upgrade their phones will be forced to go to the new plans, which I complained will cost many customers more money. But I later learned that those who upgrade their phones can stay with their old plans.
That certainly eases the pain a bit for those Verizon customers who will find the new plans more expensive than before. The new plans go into effect later this month.
If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at email@example.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.