I’ve always said the most important parts of your computer are your Monitor and Keyboard. This should be obvious because they’re the parts you spend the most time using. Now I’ve always had visual problems which require me to display my coke bottles to any gendarme who cares to inquire about the particulars of why I’m driving down Erie Boulevard at 110 miles an hour (it’s to test the stop light sequencing, I work for the NTSB, honest), which have recently become much worse before getting better again (there came a moment as I was polishing my spotless glasses when I closed my good eye and found the dirt was still there).
As part of my treatment the Doctor gives me shots. In my eyeball. No General, not even a sedative, just a topical so you experience every horrible excruciating moment. If you are lucky there are no bubbles to provide a nauseating lava lamp display whenever you turn your head for the next 2 or 3 days.
Now that you are properly sympathetic let me explain some things that seemed like a good idea at the time.
So there was this sale on Vizio 32″ TVs which had the proper specifications (1080p, HDMI in) and though it had a bunch of stuff I didn’t need (speakers, TV Tuner) it would do as a Monitor and was 10″ BIGGER than my 22″ BenQ which is far sharper, brighter, and of superior quality overall.
And it was about $120 which is what I paid for the BenQ.
It’s OK. Now that I have a switch that will swap between my Desktop, Laptop, and Cable Box without crawling around the back to plug and unplug wires it’s even sort of useful.
Not that it wasn’t. It certainly allowed me to deny I was rapidly going blind for almost a year. I’ve practically got all the nose prints scrubbed off.
It does have one particular problem- it’s 32 inches big. That’s bigger than a Frakta Bag.
Now in a static mount that’s not a deal but it limits portability, not so much in the car but carrying it from the car to the semi-permanent installation I use on the road which is an octopus of wires.
The central unit is a 2.5 Ghz HP 6475b that I’ve upgraded to 16 Gb RAM and a 2 Tb SSHD drive and it’s ok just as it is except the mousepad sucks and, especially, the 15 inch display only does 1366 x 768 which is not a lot of real estate if you’re used to 1920 x 1080 for your documents (I write every day) and your most frequently used applications. The keyboard is acceptable but awkward. I’ve used it in that configuration on a park picnic table and it runs out of battery in about 3 hours which is why I now have 3 ($25 each).
I have DVI (BenQ) and HDMI (Vizio) adapters for the DisplayPort output which solves my video problems and a dongle (stupid word) for my wireless keyboard/mouse combo that utilizes an otherwise useless USB 2.0 so we’re beginning to get functional here.
What really makes it shine is the USB 3.0 Ports. It comes stock with 2 and I have a laptop card (yeah it comes with an ExpressCard 54 slot) that adds 2 more. I normally run with the internals because I use hubs that branch 7 ports a pop and you can daisy chain them until you run out of fingers and toes. It’s not the fastest data transfer rates in the world, in real life I average about 56 Mbs, but it’s fast enough I can transfer about 1 Tb a couple of hours, maybe a little less.
It’s not fast enough that you feel compelled to go beyond 5400 RPM hard drives like you get in the $109 Seagate 4 Tb external units (I have 2, 2 x 1 Tb, and a 512 Gb). I also have an assortment of thumb drives with capacities between 16 and 256 Gb which are ok but have limited write cycles (not something you need to worry about unless you use them much harder than I do, I wouldn’t trust them to run an OS or a VM for instance, they do fine for non critical backups and are far faster and more convenient though not as long lasting as optical storage).
I have a collection of legacy hard drives and in my tech capacity am often called on to salvage those of clients so I’ve a variety of USB 3.0 to SATA (of various specifications) adapters. I often don’t drag them along on trips (maybe 1 or 2) but you can understand why I think of storage as virtually unlimited and it never disappoints. Plug in another drive!
Recently I’ve upgraded my crap Motorola E Gen 1 phone to 128 Gb because I’ve been spending a lot of time waiting. I have a pretty fierce collection of music and video (several weeks worth actually) I’ve downloaded from YouTube and Netflix in case the WiFi or Unlimited Data Plan runs out. I can plug in direct and play right from it if I want.
And that’s where the last parts of my kit come in. I have a set of Bose Companion IIs which are compact but LOUD (with excellent fidelity) and if I pack everything and remember all the cables I can set up the whole Home Theater experience in half an hour or so. Moana anyone? Every episode of Futurama (including Jurassic Bark– bring your own tissues)? I have those as well as my audio files. I should really ask my DJ friend who keeps his entire collection in a heap of CDs (which cost him tens of thousands of dollars) on the Living Room floor if he’s willing to sell it by the pound.
Still wish there was a way to fold up that Monitor though.