If you’re looking for a new Mac computer these are confusing times. If it’s a laptop you are looking for the choice is easy, pick the one you can afford. They’re all pretty decent and have been updated fairly recently. Reports suggest that 70% of Apple’s computer sales are Laptops. For me that is not surprising. It’s not necessarily that everyone wants a laptop. It’s that the desktop line up is so poor. I recently went from iMac to MacBook Pro. Now I want to goo back to a desktop. Why you might ask…?

MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro is a stunning piece of engineering. I had the 17″ with the 1920×1200 screen. More laptop than anyone could ever need. All the screen real estate of a 24″ screen in a device I could carry around. And that’s the problem. 1920 x 1200 is just too much resolution for a 17″ screen, for me anyway. Despite my all new laser eyes I just found the screen too tiring for full days of work on the beast. I then thought about getting a 24″ panel to run the video out into put what’s the point of having a laptop with such an incredible resolution if you end up viewing it on another screen? The other problem is that I tend to do all my work computing in one room. The MacBook Pro moved a couple of inches the whole time I had it. Portable computing just isn’t for me. Back to iMac?

iMac Revisions
I’m a massive fan of the iMac. I originally got one once the affordability of Apple’s tower systems disappeared and the Mac Mini lacked the grunt to deal with Final Cut. I found the 24″ iMac a joy to work with, the only real rub being the difficulty upgrading the internal disc and therefore the need to attach external drives. So, get a iMac ordered, right? Maybe not. The last iMac update was April 2008. Nothing like as long as the poor Mac Mini which hasn’t been updated since God talked to Moses (hence disregarded as a possibility here) but a substantial period none the less. I wouldn’t opt for an iMac right now as you can bet your bottom dollar a new revision is imminent (within 3 months for sure, perhaps to coincide with the release of Apple’s latest OS: Snow Leopard). It’s not that the current iMac is bad, it’s just that Apple’s policy of not changing prices until a new version is released means the value of the system, based upon it’s components, doesn’t look quite so good these days. I’m thinking the new model will be Quad core, DDR3, 500GB storage and nVidia chipset based. It will probably continue to use the laptop versions of components. But there is another tantalising possibility…

New Cube2?
For some time, Mac users have mourned the loss of a sensibly priced tower. I mentioned it back in 2007 as have plenty of others. Where I used to enjoy the QuickSilver towers and later the G5 Powermac towers, the current Mac Pro is complete overkill. Now essentially a server box, with the price tag to match.
Any user looking for a Mac machine with additional storage has to opt for external drives. This is understandable with the laptop range, less so with Apple’s ‘affordable’ desktop: the iMac. Which makes me think, perhaps the God’s will smile on us, and the folks at Infinity Loop will treat us to Cube2. Stop laughing. I can dream can’t I?

Cube2 – If you ever saw the first Cube you will think one of two things. It was a piece of design genius which should never have left Apple’s portfolio (although in some ways, the Mac Mini is now everything it should have been) or it was a computing Dodo and its demise was of no surprise. I’m in the former group, many others the latter. Before you go how about this…
A bigger Cube – maybe a 10″ square with enough room for multiple drives (even if they are 2.5″) and an Mini Display port for connecting to the LED display? Seems unlikely given the Magsafe connector on the LED Cinema display but that would really hit the spot right now. It would be a more affordable desktop option and sit alongside, yet between the all-in-one iMac and the Mac Pro. We can have i7 chipset, desktop components etc. Where do I sign?
Before I get carried away, I realise the likelihood is it will never happen. For the same reasons it hasn’t already. A desktop, without the screen and ‘standard’ PC components and an Apple price tag may become untenable for Apple. No matter how good the industrial design of the chassis Apple will be lynched for the pricetag and greed etc. Probably the same people who wouldn’t buy a Mac anyway and opt for installing OSX on a vanilla ‘OSX86’ box.

Until then?
The only other option is something like a uni-body MacBook. Smaller screen size but lower resolution. There’s no firewire, which is a major pain if you have external drives but these hurdles can be overcome (USB2 – nowhere near as reliable as Firewire 400/800). The new MacBook’s are also pretty zippy pieces of kit and upgrading the hard drive (stock one is only 160GB/5400RPM on the lower unibody model) is really easy. If you’re flush you can add the beautiful 24″ LED Cinema display. Best of both worlds. Nice fast portable and stunning desktop monitor for when you need it. Lot of money though, and these aren’t times when people are feeling exuberant. So…

At present, if you’re in need of a OSX computer you have two realistic choice. Opt for a laptop you don’t actually need (but preferably with a screen resolution that you are comfortable with), run it in to another larger display when screen real estate is needed (save the cash if you don’t) and wait for new desktops. Or, buy an iMac now (perhaps even the VERY outdated MacMini) and don’t worry yourself with the future updates. The current model is a great piece of kit and will no doubt do everything you need to do for a good few years. Just don’t get upset if they release the new models 3 weeks after you’ve unpacked it!