Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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Gadget Envy

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I’m more a fan of gadgets in theory, than I am in a real practical “I’m going to buy that” sense. I use an old gumstick 512mb iPod shuffle I got for my wife a couple Christmas’s back (it was a refurb and I inherited it when I got her a refurbed Nano), I use the work supplied blackberry as my only cell phone, and I’m typing this on my 12″ iBook G4/800 which was the latest model in late 2003, and already a model old when I bought it as a display model from Micro-Center. Which is all to preface that while I keep up with technological trends, I don’t actually purchase all that many gadgets/computers/etc.

We recently (well 6-12 months ago) replaced my wife’s aging home-brewed Windows 2K PC (running an old AMD Duron 900 Mhz chip) with a newer generic Micro-Center brand (PowerSpec) desktop for around $300. However, what she really wants is a new laptop. She would use this largely for writing lesson plans (she’s a home-schooling mom and teaches one day a week at a fine arts school for home-schoolers), and the requisite e-mail and surfing and such. The most likely solution for her laptop question is going to be a basic Macbook. I’m trying to move away from all Windows based machines, and frankly don’t think I have the energy to get her proficient enough at Linux.

That really only addresses her needs, and not my needs (or wants). So I thought I’d run down a list of a few of the gadgets on my “dreaming” list.

MacBook vs MacBook Air vs Macbook Pro vs EeePC:

Yes, the MacBook Air came out and I was sucked into the reality distortion field and was SURE this was the machine for me. But upon further contemplation it’s really not cost-effective enough for me to chose it over a MacBook. If I’m going to spend the extra money I should probably spend it on a Macbook Pro as I do a fair bit of work on my laptop (blogging, web design, web programming, website administration, writing, photo editing, home movie editing, etc). That said I’ve also considered replacing my beloved iBook with an EeePC from Asus. I work in a Unix world and would be quite comfortable using the EeePC for my surfing, e-mail, and (depending on how I feel about the keyboard once I get to try one out) writing. Of course this would then require me to have some sort of functional desktop at home, but that would then address my desire to have an iMac for storing all the family photos and videos (which I’ll address later).

On the one hand I could buy a Macbook for $1000 or so and have an upgrade to my current system and probably run for another 3-4 years before I’d need new hardware. On the other hand I could spend the $1800 on a Macbook Pro or Air and either be more portable (Air) or have more technological room (Pro). On the other hand (did I mention I’m a Hindu god of some sort?) I could spend the $1500 on an iMac and then another $300 on an EeePC and address both right now. I’m not decided on this front yet, but I’ll leave you with a little comparison between the Air and the EeePC.

The Far Side of Tech ยป Apple Air versus Asus Eee: A Comparison:

iMac 24″


I’ve not had a personal desktop computer for a while now, and occasionally I miss it. I like the storage capacity, the power, and the big honking keyboard. The 24″ iMac would be a good “family computer” and I’m tempted to get one to replace the cheap 19″ CRT TV in my master bedroom for my wife to use as her machine and TV viewing. I would love to have something this size for doing my web work, as well as for all the home movie video editing and such.

iPod Touch vs Nano

I’ll rule out the iPod Classic from my list, not because I don’t want one, but because it’s probably the least practical for me at this time. The iPod Nano has the video features I like, and is small and light and relatively cheap (BIG PLUS). The Touch (I don’t want an iPhone) has all that nice screen real-estate, plus wi-fi (and the browsing and e-mail functions that go with that), and a much stiffer price.

I’ve debated (in my head, with myself, you do that too right?) about what combo of computing would be the most practical way to spend our money (assuming we had any of course). Options include:

  1. We purchase her a MacBook and me an iPod Touch to do my e-mail and surfing stuff and then I’m borrowing her machine (after running the iBook into the ground) to do my web work (and day job remote support work as needed). Cost: $1500ish
  2. The “Dream” set-up would be a 24″ iMac for the house/home office, a 15″ MacBook Pro for me, and a Macbook for Alicia, plus one for the kids. Throw in a new pink Nano for Alicia, an iPod Touch for me, and pass along Alicia’s old Nano to Jake and we’d be in uber-gadget heaven. $6300ish?
  3. I think the base-line/most likely option would be to purchase two MacBooks, one for Alicia, and one for me, and be done with it. We’d both have pretty close to what we needed out of our computers, and we’d only be out of pocket a couple grand (he says like a couple grand isn’t as hard to come by as pants that he fits into). Cost: $2200ish
  4. Another option is a Macbook for her, an iMac for the house, and an EeePC for me. This gives me a robust machine to work on at home, and a nice Linux machine to work on while away from the desk. I’d miss my favorite Mac Apps, but I’d be getting back to my *nix roots (my first IT job involved writing shell scripts for while I worked there). $3000ish

Some other technology items I’ve pondered lately….


I like the AppleTV in concept, but realistically I don’t watch enough TV for it to be a cost effective purchase… doesn’t keep me from wanting one though. My money would be better spent picking up a PVR/Tivo type thing at this point.


I really like the look of this, and the price is incredibly reasonable. The Eye-Fi is basically a camera memory card combined with a Wi-Fi adaptor that allows you to wirelessly upload your pictures to photo-sharing services (like Flickr) without needing to interface with your computer every time you do so, and/or you can use it to transfer the pictures to your computer.

Snowflake (mic from Snowball people)

I’ve done a bit of podcasting in the past, plan on doing more in the future, and this looks to be a reasonably priced little USB microphone that would give me a better quality recording than my current kludgy setup of an iMic adaptor and some cheap mic/headset thing.

Belkin Podcast Studio

Again, this is one of those items I’d be hard pressed to justify right now, but the idea is so cool. Of course it would also give me an excuse to upgrade to something more than my old iPod shuffle. This little device gives you basic editing function, mic inputs, etc and then sends all that audio straight into an iPod for storage. It’s a mini-soundboard that uses an iPod for storage is how I think of it.

Time Capsule

Another reality distortion purchase desire is the Time Capsule WiFi Access point/storage thing. This would really only be a temptation if I do end up getting a Macbook for Alicia, and a new machine for me, and maybe an iMac. The network storage aspect is something I’ve wanted to get to at some point (better backups, less chance of losing our 10Gig of family pictures a year). There’s also a device called a “Drobo” (I think that’s the name) that I’ve considered as well, but it’s also a bit pricier.


Written by cpillsbury

February 12th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Blog Entry

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