It's a first world problem, I know.  I have a great computer that comes with a built-in monitor that'd run me no less than $450 if I bought it separately at Newegg.  But I have several computers I like to use at my desk, and the limitations of Target Display Mode, the feature that allows you to use your iMac as a monitor with other computers, really stink.

In a nutshell, my $450 monitor only works with Thunderbolt outputs.  I knew that going in, and even debated grabbing an older iMac (a Mid 2010) that supported DisplayPort input with Target Display Mode. It was too expensive for the hardware concessions I'd have to make.

The thing I greatly undervalued was how difficult it'd be to move the danged iMac out of the way if it wasn't VESA mounted.  The iMac is huge.  I have a KVM and another HDMI multiswitch to hook my Windows laptops (one each for my day and "night" jobs) up to two external monitors via docks, and there simply isn't space to configure them open in front of the iMac and still use an ergonomic keyboard.  And I don't know of another way to get a temporary Windows screen in front of me with the space I've got.

That is, there's no way for the iMac to share center stage with one of those two monitors.  And the iMac needs to have center stage, or I have my far and away best monitor off to the side when I use OS X -- like I'm painfully doing now.

Again, first world problem, but I do, thankfully, work in the first world, and having an efficient office is pretty high on the priority list.  I think the bottom line is that, when computers are your livelihood and you can afford it, it's likely worth shelling out for what you want, without compromise.  You know what you can use.  I wanted a Mac Pro.  That's insanely expensive, but fits in with my workflow perfectly.  I don't think I would have begrudged myself the extra $1500, but even if I had, the only pain is cost, not operation.  And you're buying yourself exceptional GPUs and the ability to upgrade the processor, insane amounts of RAM, SSD (which I don't have now), and the ability to drive a 4K monitor in the future.  That's a 4-5 year machine.

I also considered a 15" Macbook Pro Retina with a quad core -- $500-$600 more than the iMac.  I decided against that because I'd recently purchased a [Windows] laptop.  I don't think I'd've felt as badly hooking up a Macbook on the side, even though it has an arguably better screen than the iMac and, well, I'd have mobile OS X, which I only have in a white Late 2009 Macbook now.

I talked myself into an iMac based on its max RAM (so a win over the Macbook) and processor performance (which meant no mini -- and if I get exceptionally brave, I can upgrade my iMac's proc too, apparently, not that there are many options), sure, but also considerably on the monitor that I'd be getting.  It'd be fine if I simply had to turn it off to use my laptops.  It's another when it can't be my main monitor when I am OS X-ing without a lot of shuffling.

I'm not convinced I made the wrong decision, but I do regret the hamstringing and the imperfect workflow integration.  Reminds me of my iPod touch with its case not being able to access the swipe-up control center.  Apple makes decisions not to cater to as many users as possible, but to cater only for the Ideal Mac User, who not only doesn't use Windows laptops, where a Thunderbolt out is a near unicorn level rarity, but doesn't use older Mac laptops either.  It's not like Apple couldn't put some hardware in the iMac to decode DisplayPort in to Thunderbolt, or sell us an (exceptionally expensive, chip-powered) adapter.

So I'm stuck feeling stupid for having put back up my 1920x1080 Hannspree cheapie where the iMac used to be.  Wow, step down.

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