If you're even thinking about buying an Apple product, wait until after you've read this guide to product cycles and refreshes. It's not always a good time to buy—and now might be an especially bad one for some.
We've taken a good look at the handy Buyer's Guide over at MacRumors and given you some background and our own recommendations for safe shopping. Enjoy, and try not to throw too many elbows out there. And don't worry! If you hate all things Apple, we've got you covered here.
Whether a major revamp or a new selection of colors, Apple has updated Shuffle twice a year, like clockwork, every year since 2006. A new generation should debut in February, and given our issues with the current Shuffle's form factor it's probably best to hold out a few more months. Recommendation: WAIT
This was just updated in September, the fourth year in a row that their only refresh has been in the fall. You should be fine to buy for now; expect new models to show up again in another nine months. Recommendation: BUY
Same story as the Nano. You're fine for now, if you absolutely need 160GB of storage from a PMP. Since it's unlikely that you or anyone does, just get an Touch or (or even a Zune HD) instead. Recommendation: DON'T BUY, unless you somehow need to watch TV show made since 1995 on that teeny-tiny screen
Even if it hadn't already been 200 days since the last update, there are also plenty of rumors out there about a 5MP camera coming in June. Hold off until then if you can. Recommendation: WAIT
The iPod Touch has been on the same product cycle as the Classic and Nano since its 2007 debut, but the first generation model also received a memory upgrade five months after its initial release. The 5MP camera rumor applies here, as well, so it's best to see what happens. Recommendation: WAIT
Apple's no-frills desktop just got a spec increase and added a server model in late October. It shouldn't be getting any more updates any time soon, which is a shame, because it's still not a very competitive product for the price. Check out the Acer AspireRevo R3610 as a more than viable alternative. Recommendation: DON'T BUY unless you insist on Apple, even when it flies in the face of all logic
While it hasn't gotten an official refresh since March, Apple did just add a 3.33GHz Quad Core processor option on Dec. 4tth. There should still be another upgrade this spring worth waiting for, especially with rumors that the Mac Pro is about to get a Core i7-980X processor. Recommendation: WAIT
The iMac was updated at the same time as the Mini, but widely reported display problems make us cautious. Roll the dice if you want, but it's probably best to see if and when these issues are resolved. Which as of today, they're clearly still not. Recommendation: WAIT
Apple added a 24" model in 2008, but the rest of the Cinema Display line hasn't seen a spec change since fall of 2006. There's no indication that new models are in the offing, so if you want that 30-inch screen you should be all right. Keep in mind, though, that the 27" iMac screen has 90% of the resolution of the 30-inch Cinema, making it a solid replacement once they get the bugs sorted out. Recommendation: CAUTIOUS BUY
Apple's basic laptop model was just updated with multitouch, an LED display and a unibody form on October 20th, and it's not likely to be revamped again any time soon. If you'd prefer a more powerful notebook it might be worth waiting to see if the MacBook Pro gets a price drop in a few months. Recommendation: BUY, if you definitely don't want a MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro line gets a refresh every 200 days, on average, and we're just about there now. More importantly, there have been rumors that Apple's going to upgrade to Intel's new Core i5 and i7 processors as soon as early January. You can hold off until then, right? Recommendation: WAIT
It's hard to say about the MacBook Air; it's a newer product, so there's less precedent to work with. We do know that the light-as-a-feather notebook last got an upgrade in June, and we can speculate Apple may wait until a ULV i5 or i7 processor is available before ushering in next-generation models. It's worth waiting to see if those processors get announced at CES next week. Recommendation: WAIT