You gotta admit, when we talk about sexy, we talk about shapes and forms and appeal and… Apple.
I have a love-hate relationship with Cupertino. I love their MacBooks but not their tablets - which for me are practically just an oversized iPhone, without the phone features, that is to say. I like their iPhone - I remember back in 2010 when I was still living in Bangkok and iPhone 4 just came out, I thought it was the sexiest gadget I’ve ever laid my eyes on. My mind went, ‘We thinks we must get our hands on it my preciouuussss, ohh yesss!’ I was very obsessed that I had to solicit the help of my friend living in Singapore to ship me a unit because at that time it was still unavailable in Thailand. I had to pay customs tax to get it delivered, mind you. It cost about $50 - a small price to pay. And then I grew tired of it eventually, and when Nokia came out with its Lumia phone series, I thought it was the coolest thing and I jumped onto the Windows Phone ecosystem by getting a Nokia Lumia 800. Again from Singapore. (I hate that Singapore is always at the front of the line with phone releases whilst Thailand and the Philippines are waaay behind.) To this date I use both - one for work, one for personal use. I think they both have their own pros and cons.
Anyway, I digress. Enough about phones. What I really want to talk about is the Apple iMac, that ridiculously large, slim and sexy beast of a computer that means business.
You want it, don’t you?
I just love the huge screen real estate. I see the iMac all the time in the reception areas of a number of companies whenever I travel around for work, and every single time I think about grabbing it and making a mad dash to the exit. Not that such heinous robbery is actually feasible - this thing is humungous - but the thought crossed my mind.
Apple came out only recently with this slimmest iMac yet last November 2012 and Jesus H. Christ they managed to really trim it down to a totally slim package. To give you an idea of how slim it is, here’s a snapshot of the evolution of the iMac, from 1998 through to 2013.
It’s like watching The Biggest Loser before and after photos.
The problem is, this beast is expensive - $1429 AUD (or about PHP 60K) for the cheapest in the series. I have to have a good business case to buy this thing and sadly I cannot find one because one, I have a perfectly working Mac (the first ever that came out in aluminium in 2008, before the ‘Macbook Pro’ branding was created), and two, I also have a tablet which is a Windows Surface, and it’s brillant. So getting another computer is just too much. But that screen…
Then a light bulb moment - I should just buy a large computer monitor and simulate the iMac experience!
So off I went to the electronics shop, and got myself the following:
1. A 21.5” Full HD TV
I didn’t actually think I would use a TV as a computer monitor but the gadget guy at the shop told me it’s perfectly fine. With today’s technology, the glare and eye strain you would get from the really old TV’s are no longer existent. As long as the unit sports a full HD resolution (1980 x 1020 or higher) you’re right in the money. Plus, it’s an actual TV so if ‘m not using my computer I can simply switch to telly viewing. Two functions in one - neat!
Some things to consider when using a TV as a monitor:
- Most of the time, the screen height and angle of a TV is not as adjustable as a computer monitor. In my case, I do have to use a thick book as a base so that the screen levels well with my eyes.
- Get a TV with an IPS screen. It projects contrast and colours excellently. The TV I bought, a lowly but trusted TEAC which costs $240 (darn cheap for a FHD slim TV you must admit!), doesn’t have this technology because IPS screens are pretty expensive, but this one’s still pretty awesome with comparable image quality. If you do have the budget, consider it.
- Make sure it’s got full HD resolution (FHD), not just high definition (HD) display. For computer monitors, the resolution matters.
- Make sure it has an HDMI port. Most digital TV’s now do anyway.
- Whilst a large screen is great for entertainment, it might not be ideal for regular computing. I tried a 32” and found it too huge - you will have to sit far back to prevent eye fatigue and that doesn’t really work if you’re working with text on documents and websites or with images. From my own trials, I found 22 - 23” to be the perfect size.
- If you’re not too sure about using TV as a computer monitor, do give it a test first. In my case, I asked the shop if I can give it a spin and return the set if I didn’t find it comfortable for my eyes, and they gladly gave me 30 days return period. I love Aussie market policies!
- Get a screen with matt finish over a glossy one as it has less (or no) glare.
2. A wireless keyboard and trackpad
These bad boys from Apple work seamlessly, and they’re very good looking as well. Will set you back $150 ($75 each).
3. A mini Displayport to HDMI cable, and an HDMI cable
I think all Macbooks sport a mini Displayport for video output. You will need this adapter above and and an HDMI cable to screencast from the computer to an external monitor. Other options would be a mini Displayport to VGA or to DVI adapter and use the corresponding cables, but HDMI is really the best in terms of lossless video transmission. This one from Moshi is $30 but I checked on eBay and there are lower cost options that go as cheap as $5. But I trust Moshi.
4. A wireless surrond sound speaker
Not a necessity, but I already have this Nokia Play 360 which is wireless, has an impressive sub-woofer and plays awesome music in 360 degree direction, and hooking it up with the computer system to play great audio will do wonders for your ear drums. To be honest, the TEAC FHD TV, whilst capable of crisp and clear video, has terrible audio - for just $240, you didn’t really expect it to be perfect did you? Fortunately, however, it has audio-out capabilities, so I just connect it with my Nokia Play using a cable, and I get superb audio with almost cinema-like quality.
And after all that, here’s the end result.
Instead of shelling out $1420, I improvised and got the huge screen high-def experience for just $420, that’s a full thousand dollars less.