Friday, September 19, 2008

R.I.P. eMachine

The computer I mentioned was acting strangely in a previous post, has gone to computer heaven. Now that it's there, I'm sure it's sound card will play nothing but harp music and it'll rest on a cloud which is never too hot or too cold for optimal performance. It'll also never get dusty inside, which is a lot more than I can say for its earthly lifespan where carpets of dust lay inside of it's metal innards.

Since that computer was primarily a means to watch computer content on television, I didn't think or care much about replacing it, but my CH has said that he really would like to have a computer attached to the television for this purpose. In particular, he'd like to be able to watch streaming content like the Colbert Report or the Daily Show on the bigger screen regularly. This is not particularly convenient or mechanically possible from any of the 5 machines currently crammed into our tiny living room because only two have S-video outputs and both of those are workhorses that can't be surrendered to T.V. duty.

After discussing this, we decided that the next oldest machine, my current Mac Mini, is the best candidate for a move to semi-retirement. It's now 2 1/2 years old and has never been all that fast. I looked into Apple's current line-up and my desktop options are very limited (as they have been for ages due to Apple's limited line-up). I considered each of the following:

1. A Mac Pro tower

This would be ideal, but it's also too expensive. In Japan, the price is around $3,000 and it's more than I actually need (though I'm hungry for a better graphics processor than I get on a low end Macs). I just can't justify such an extravagant outlay of cash for more machine than I require.

2. An iMac

This looks good except for the fact that I don't need a display and it's $600 more than a Mini. It does have better video and other specs, but it's hard to justify it both because the monitor portion is not necessary and I really prefer not to clutter my (already too small) desk with another display. The funny thing about momentum is that it's rather hard to get off the merry-go-round once you're on it. I have a nice display and I have two computers that use it. Getting one that doesn't need it and has its own causes issues.

3. Another Mac Mini

Reluctantly, I believe this is the route I have to take. The video processor specs disappoint me greatly, though swapping to an Intel dual core processor should give me a great speed boost. I may also toss in some more RAM, but I haven't decided for certain yet. At the very least, I'm sure Photoshop and Rosetta Stone will run better.

Before deciding to take the plunge though, I checked out when the Minis were last updated by Apple. There's a very helpful buyer's guide at MacRumors which gives you dates of updates as well as recommendations about buying now or waiting. If you're in the market for a new Mac, this is your one-stop shop for considering whether to wait or buy now and possibly regret it in the near future because Apple released a new one right after you made your purchase. The Mini was last updated a little over a year ago and is overdue for a refresh. I'm hoping that Apple tries to roll something out in October or November (for Christmas) so we can pick up a new one when they come out. For now, we've decided to wait and see what Apple offers rather than take the plunge right away. In the mean time, we'll have to watch on the small screen rather than the big one when it comes to video.

This has been a surprisingly big year for us on computer purchases. I bought a new PC (maybe that's why my old eMachine was sad that I got a new one for a whopping $300), the CH got a new MacBook, and, with any luck, there will be a new Mac desktop by the end of the year. I'm a little unhappy about buying all this new stuff, but gratified that our lifestyle is such that we can do so without impacting our budget much or without having to go into debt.

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