I have no frigging idea

I’ve been having some interesting conversations about Apple in the last few days. One was with Ina Fried, who is now writing at Axios, and she asked a question I struggled answering: “Are you planning to buy a desktop?” As you can see in her daily newsletter, she summarized my ramble with my final comment on the issue, which was I have no frigging idea

Here’s why it takes me five minutes to answer that question with “I don’t know”; I have long been a laptop-centric user and with the 2016 MacBook Pro, and for about 95% of my work, it’s all I need or want.

But that other 5% — when I dive into Final Cut Pro, for instance, or when I start doing serious panorama stitching in Lightroom — I can see the laptop struggle. It’s usable, but once in a while, I could really use more horsepower.

I’ve really been thinking about whether I should add an iMac 5K to the mix, but I don’t really need or want the monitor, since I have a very nice, very big monitor already. What I could really use is a nice, mid-powered, updated Mac Mini, but, well. Sigh.

So I think about Apple’s announcements this week about the new Mac Pro, and it gives me some hope. Will the low end of that product line be priced and powered to take on the mantle for the Mac Mini? Will I look at a low(er) end Mac Pro and decide to buy it? Will the iMac Pros that will show up before that blow me away and convince me to buy one?

Quick digression: one really fast way to convince me to buy a new iMac, Apple, is to let me use it as a monitor for my laptop by plugging a cable into it. Hint. Hint. I’d love to be able to dock my laptop to the screen when I want to work with the laptop, and then shift over to the iMac when I want to work with that computer instead. What I don’t want is to try to simulate this with things like Screens or some remote desktop magic. Let the iMac support multiple monitor connections, one of which is the iMac Processor.

The way I have my data storage and workflows set up, I can ALMOST become computer-independent for my work, which would make that unnecessary, but video still badly fails the “just dump it in Dropbox and it’ll magically appear everywhere” solution, and Lightroom is still grumpy about being put on a shared data area and used on multiple machines. I know people who do that, but I don’t want to depend on hacks to keep me from destroying my Lightroom Catalog.

So I’m in a quandary — status quo is pretty close to optimal, the iMac pros are coming sooner, may solve my processing problems (and let me run Plex on them instead of my Synology, which I’d prefer), but I have to convince myself to switch to that monitor, which complicates that I am mostly using my laptop docked to the monitor. and the Next Gen Mac Pro solves that monitor problem, but it’s a year away (ish) and who knows if it’ll be in my budget or serious overkill for my needs?

So while Apple’s Round Table this week answered a lot of questions and reduces my worries about the future of the Mac product line, especially for power users, it also leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and we won’t know for sure until the products start rolling out.

There are still too many unknowns for me to plan. What we learned this week was a big step forward, in that we know these products are coming and Apple is solving this gap in their product line, but the details are still too fuzzy to d more than know that one of these days, I’ll be able to make a decision.

And so the only way I can answer a question on my plans for a new desktop is I have no frigging idea.