I often get asked about my own Mac and, as it turns out, I have changed up my personal computing situation quite a bit in the last few months. Let me describe it to you.
Back in 2007, back when laptops were not very powerful nor had much storage I decided that a good strategy would be to have a simple MacBook for mobile computing and a powerful iMac with external hard drives for storing large libraries like my iPhoto and iTunes libraries. This worked well and I had iterations of increasingly more powerful Macs along the way until last spring when I bought a 15” MacBook Pro with a 1TB hard drive. It is a powerful machine, including a quad-core processor and 1GB graphics RAM. In fact, it was vastly more powerful than my iMac and the iMac seemed like a slug by comparison.
So I decided that my strategy of a powerful home computer combined with an average mobile computer had been obsoleted by technology and progress. So it goes. In addition, it was painful managing two Macs, each with its own photo library, music library, etc. Of course, iCloud and SugarSync took care of syncing the little stuff, but multiple libraries was painful. I decided to sell my iMac and consolidate all of my computing and libraries into my MacBook Pro.
A key part of my strategy with the iMac was to have external storage to keep all of my converted analog home movies. How was I to access them with my only Mac, a MacBook? Also, there were certainly many times that I enjoyed the large screen on an iMac.
So I started to look into a large monitor and a docking station (from Henge Docks - www.hengedocks.com). The thought was that I could hook everything to the dock - the external monitor, a mouse, keyboard and my large external hard drives. When I wanted to use the system, I would simply plug the MacBook into the dock and everything would connect at once.
So I started shopping for external monitors. I wanted something comparable to the size and resolution of my 27” iMac. There are certainly nice monitors of that size available from Costco and Amazon for around $300. However, I thought their resolution and color left something to be desired for photo and video editing work.
I decided to see what Apple had to offer and found their Thunderbolt Display. www.apple.com/displays/ Thunderbolt is a new interface introduced by Apple a couple of years ago. It is very high speed and supports “conversions” to USB, Firewire, Ethernet and more. This display is identical to the 27” iMac’s in both size, resolution and color accuracy.
On the back of the Thunderbolt Display are multiple ports for Ethernet, Firewire and USB. Also, there is one cable that is attached to the back of the display. The end of that cable splits into two - one MagSafe charger for a MacBook and the other a simple Thunderbolt connector.
Through the one Thunderbolt connection, the MacBook is connected to all that is connected to the back of the display - keyboard, my large hard drives, an Ethernet cable to my router, etc. It is actually easier to plug in than a dock and I did not have to buy a dock - the monitor is my dock.