Software

The ultimate home office

Pity the modern worker. Back when our ancestors served their 60 hours a week lashed to lathes, coupled to conveyor belts, and harnessed to harvesters, it was impossible to take work home. Clock out, and you were done for the day. No longer. The home office—whether as an adjunct to a distant workplace or as the location of your primary workplace—is a common component of home.

But what determines the perfect home office? Other than available space, the most limiting factor is money. We’d all love to pour unending streams of lucre into our home offices to obtain lightning-fast computers, massive monitors, and software powerful enough to manipulate the solar system.

But let’s face it, the kid needs braces, that scraping sound from the brakes can’t be good, and it won’t be long before the spring protruding from the couch gives someone tetanus. With that in mind, I’m here to offer advice on creating the ultimate Mac-based home office—within reason. In this case, I define reason as a budget of $1,500, $3,000, or $6,000.

The rules of the game are these: You will buy a new Mac and equipment—no used gear or software is allowed. Tax is not included in our recommendations. I assume you have the furniture you need and wired broadband. At the very least, you must be able to use e-mail; browse the Web; create, read, and edit Microsoft Office-compatible documents; and perform basic billing and expense tracking. The rest comes out of your budget.

My recommendations are based on prices easily found on the Internet at such familiar and accessible outfits as the Apple Store, Amazon.com, and Costco.com. And of course, regardless of how much money you actually have, you’ll find interesting tips you can use when you need to make tough purchasing choices.

Follow along as we break out the virtual credit card and gear up to create the ultimate home office.

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