A buddy of mine in the corporate world was recently given a computer allowance to deck out his new workspace. All he had was a desk and needed to outfit it with all the computer supplies he’d need for the next 2-3 years. His budget? $5k.
This got me thinking as to what I’d buy with a budget that healthy. Considering I’ve never spent more than $2k on a laptop (15″ and 17″ G4 Powerbooks purchased via an Apple Retail discount), that amount of money SEEMED like a lot, but once you start to weigh power versus portability and screen size versus desk space, it’s really not that much.
He had no rules, save he had to purchase the Apple products directly from Apple because of a warranty agreement. User-serviceable upgrades could be bought anywhere. Here’s what I would spend with $5k (assume tax is an ungodly 10% because it’s easy to do that math and shipping is free):
13.3″ MacBook Air $1648+$165 tax
I’d really like to love the 11″ here, but the super-small screen and the over 25% loss in process speed worries the hell out of me. I tend to use my laptops a lot, so I need something that’s a worthy replacement for a 13.3″ MacBook Pro (current model). This MBA strikes a good balance of weight versus power, and I don’t travel enough to really be worried about the additional screen size from the smaller MBA. The $1648 includes a $100 upgrade to four gigs of RAM and the $249 AppleCare I always buy with laptops.
$3187 left. Damn, this money goes pretty fast. I’m not big on external mice or keyboards, so I suppose a monitor is next. Or maybe an iMac for the heavy lifting. SO MANY OPTIONS!
Mac mini $848+$85 tax
An iMac is a serious contender here, but I feel like I’d be wasting its power and since I’m unable to use the screen with my MBA unless I spring for the too large 27″ iMac, the mini is my workhorse computer that I can dump tasks off and remote desktop in while I’m on the road. Plenty of USB ports, along with a FireWire port for daisy-chained external drives. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even buy a keyboard or mouse for this puppy and use it headless. I’d tack on AppleCare to this too, but not RAM. I think I can find RAM cheaper down the road or maybe not even need it.
Down to 2254 now. This is actually going better than I thought. Time for a monitor!
27″ LED Cinema Display $999+$100 tax
While I really don’t want a display this big, this is Apple’s only offering. Some people swear by the size and screen quality and while I agree with the latter, I’m just not big on super high-res, huge screens. My eyes get a little lost trying to find stuff on the screen, likely because I’m so used to a smaller laptop screen and the 20″ (non-Apple, sadly) monitor I currently own. Oh well, because this thing looks really, really nice. I’ll just shove it far enough back on the desk for the size not to matter as much.
Hell, I have $1155 left! Time to buy myself some hard drives. I’ve never lost any data, but only because I’ve been very responsible with backups.
Two, 1 TB eSATA/FireWire800/FireWire400/USB2.0 Lacie Hard Drives $297.90 (no tax from Amazon)
I’d get two LaCie 1 TB Hard Drives, RAID them together, and leave them attached to my mini. Nothing says peace of mine like a backup to a backup, and the simplicity of a RAID rocks here. Never underestimate the importance of a solid backup plan, especially if you can’t afford or have too much data for cloud storage.
Wow, I still have $857.10 left. Any responsible person would save that for another day, but let’s pretend the money has to be spent. Next up is some nice reading hardware.
Kindle 3G Wireless with Free 3G + WiFi $139 (no tax from Amazon)
The 6″ Kindle is a perfect travel companion for reading on the go. I own the second generation and absolutely love it, so I can’t help but think the new version is little better all the way around. It also works great with my Mac, allowing me to share books via software or transfer via the USB cable.
$718.10, but I’m done. What would you add? What’s on your wish list?