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For years, my technology consisted only of an iPod with as much storage as possible, the cheapest cell phone I could find, and a laptop that was as powerful as possible with no regard to size or weight. This worked for me, and made things surprisingly simple.
However, these days, the times are a-changin’. The way of technology seems to be going more toward specific use devices, each one at a different part of the scale of portable to powerful. iPhones can do nearly anything anyone can dream of for a small device; yet sometimes, we just want a big screen to look at, or a full sized keyboard. Likewise, a server doesn’t need to be portable, so we make them as powerful as possible (while still not being the size of a full room, of course).
As a pretty avid Apple fan, I’ve not got an array of choices for my needs. And I think, after using nearly everything they have to offer, I have a good feel of what would work best for me.
Of all my computing devices, the one I absolutely could not live without is my iPhone 4. I’m hesitant to think of the number of hours I spend on it daily, but I wouldn’t doubt it’s at least a couple of hours. My iPhone is my portal to everything else — from it, I can access my server, my email, the web, Twitter, etc. Because it’s so easy to use for short periods of time, and because it’s with me everywhere, I can quickly jot down to-dos, or send quick emails to people.
Having spoiled myself by getting a Mac Mini last year, I’ve realized I can never go back. I never knew before how useful it can be to have a machine, somewhere, running 24 hours a day.
I now have a somewhat low configured Mac Mini, hooked up to a 4TB Drobo (and a 1TB Western Digital MyBook for backups), which I plan on soon upgrading to a Mac Mini Server (with Snow Leopard Server). This functions as a media server, hosting my iTunes library and my iPhoto library. I sync my mobile devices with this, and because it’s on all the time, I can even stream music from it, or use it to host shared files. In the near future, I hope to host my websites on it (when I stumble upon several free days).
For a while, I hooked up my Mac Mini to my television — the TV worked as an interface for the Mini, and the Mini worked as a DVD player for my TV — but since then I’ve realized I hardly ever use the TV as an interface, and I watch all my movies on my Apple TV. Instead, I use my iPad to control the Mini via VNC.
My iPad is my newest addition to the family, and only recently did it really find its place. I take it with me everywhere, and it works perfectly to do tasks that take slightly longer than an iPhone makes comfortable, or that suggest a slightly larger screen than and iPhone. It’s surprising how many things could be done on an iPhone, but are more comfortable on an iPad. And the web browsing speeds, with the A4 processor and China Unicom’s 3G network, it’s hard to complain.
Some things still require a slightly more traditional device, one that is powerful enough, but more importantly, has a keyboard and a screen that can support itself. For that, I’m using my 15” MacBook Pro, which I’ve recently decided to swap with a 13” MacBook Air. I use this for things like programming or photo editing — things that require a keyboard and/or power. And while I previously used my MacBook Pro for everything, I’m realizing now that I, well, don’t. And my reasons for getting an Air rather than a new MacBook Pro? I don’t need the power that MacBook Pros provide, and the size, weight, and battery life of the MacBook Air make it the perfect device for what I need — a keyboard and a screen that can support itself. It also makes the perfect computer to travel with, when the iPad — let’s be honest — sometimes can’t do everything you need.
I also have a Time Capsule, which I use as a router and Time Machine drive, an iPod Shuffle, which I don’t need at all but really enjoy using, and always keep with me in case my other devices lose battery, an iPod classic (160GB) to store all my music and movies, since the iPad and MacBook Air aren’t big enough, a 4TB Drobo I use to host all my media and some raw backups, and an Apple TV to act as the connection between my iTunes library and my TV.