After I got my MacBook, as I became increasingly enamored with the Mac OS, I started to think about ditching my not-quite-two-years-old Dell XPS 400 desktop box (tower, actually, next to the desk...) for something like a Mac Pro. But boy, those Mac Pros are very high-end, and pricey to boot. And it's not clear yet that I need any more horsepower than the Dell has (3 GHz, 1GB RAM, 500 GB RAID1 HDD).
My next thought was "maybe the Mac Mini," which is a lot of computing power in a tiny box. But then I began to read that the Mini is really a re-configured MacBook -- the same guts in different box, BYO keyboard and screen. The two models share the same defificiency - no dedicated video processing/RAM. So not much to be gained there.
What I really want is an iMac -- in a box by itself, not built into a display. But that doesn't exist. Yet, anyway. Steve, you listening?
The solution for my "Mac at the desk" quandary turns out to be a product I discovered at CompUSA, something Belkin makes called the "Flip."
Laptops offer a great way to work - and play - almost anywhere. But sometimes you just don’t feel like sitting in front of a tiny display and cramped keyboard.
Thanks to Flip, you can now use your big monitor and full-sized keyboard for both your laptop and desktop computer.
Just place the remote anywhere on your desk and press to flip your monitor from one computer to the next.
Something old. Something new.
Flip is also great for connecting your old and new desktop computers, giving you instant access to files, programs, and games on both computers.
Amazingly, this thing works exactly as advertised. You connect the hub to your "KVM" devices (I had to look it up too, it means "Keyboard Video Mouse"). You plug the extensions into your desktop and laptop outputs (VGA and USB). And then voila, you press the little button and your display -- and the controls -- switch seamlessly from one platform to the other.
One minute, I'm working in a Windows environment; press the button, and the next minute I'm organizing photos in iPhoto, using my 20" (Dell) wide-screen display.
The guts of the device, the hub and cables, are hidden away behind the display on my desktop. The only part that takes up any noticeable space is the little button that does the actual flipping.
This is precisely the kind of arrangement I would have wound up with if I'd gotten a MiniMac. A MiniMac would have cost me another $1000. This arrangement, where I can easily switch between my Dell desktop and my MacBook, cost....a whole $49.
I figure computers should be good for three years. So I will revisit the whole issue a year from now. Maybe by then Apple will have figured out how to put the iMac in its own box. Hopefully I can still get a copy of XP when the time comes. I want nothing to do with Vista. Not when I can run XP inside the MacOS.
Mind you, I'm not endorsing anybody here, but I think Zbig's take on the issue is about the way I see it. One candidate takes a conventional approach entirely too consistent with present policy and the other offers genuine, freshly-thought out approach. And doesn't carry a lot of other baggage:
Not that the idea was totally original or anything, but years ago, when I was still a "mogul" (as the bartender at McCabe's like to call me), I told a conference somewhere that someday in the future, you'd be able to walk into your living room, walk up to your stereo and just tell it you want to hear "The Beatles. Abbey Road. LOUD." And, within moments, "Come Together" would start playing, whether or not you had a copy in your own collection. The idea is something called "The Celestial Jukebox, and it's getting closer every day. Actually, Napster was a big step in the right direction.
"You'd pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you'd like. In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home. You'll say, 'Today I want to listen to ... Simon and Garfunkel,' and there they are. The service can have demos, bootlegs, concerts, whatever context the artist wants to put out. And once that model is put into place, the industry will grow 10 times the size it is now."
Are you listening, Steve Jobs? You've got the whole thing right there at your fingertips... WHY WON'T YOU PULL THE TRIGGER on the ultimate music-distribution model. What's so fucking sacrosanct about the 99cents per track model? I buy maybe on record from iTunes a month.
But, for access to the entire universe of recorded music, downloadable to my iPod or transmitted to my iPhone, I would GLADLY shell out $19.95/mo. Hell, I shell out that much for Netflix and only get THREE movies a month? Whathefuck are you waiting for???