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Articles where someone’s given a set budget and told to equip an office or studio or home entertainment system with the latest and greatest Mac equipment are near and dear to my heart. That’s in part because I edited one of the early permutations of this feature for the August 2004 issue of Macworld , in which we handed Adam C. Engst and Christopher Breen $6,000 each in Monopoly money and told them to do some shopping. (How long ago was that article written? So long ago that Chris’s shopping list included a $789 Dell Dimension 4600, which Chris included in order to do cross-platform computing; these days, Chris would have saved himself some dough by just buying a copy of Parallels Desktop —and a copy of Windows, too.)

The other reason articles like this are near and dear to my heart? Real-life experience. From October 2003 to August 2005, I was exiled from Macworld ’s San Francisco headquarters, working out of my apartment in Los Angeles. While my employer was kind enough to keep me supplied with all the hardware and software I needed, the experience still made me acutely aware of the challenges of stocking a home office from scratch.

And apparently, I’m not the only person keenly interested in these types of stories. Consider the reaction to Chris Breen’s latest foray into equipping a Mac-centric home office. In this article, Chris selected hardware and software for three very different budgets— $1,500, $3,000, and a spare-no-expense $6,000 limit.

Those spending caps seemed to capture readers’ imaginations, with a few proposing shopping lists of their own. Here’s a $6,000 office from hmurchinson:

That comes in at around $5,080; hmurchinson targets his remaining $900 and change for an external storage device, Web software like Coda or CSSedit, a .Mac account, and some accessories like a nice bag or more peripherals.

My take: The most interesting thing about this list is that hmurchinson went with the Windows version of Office rather than the showing-its-age Mac version. I wonder if that approach would change later this year should Microsoft come through with the Intel-native Office 2008 for Mac that it promised at Macworld Expo.

Here’s another $6,000 list, from Lslugger:

If you’re scoring along at home, that’s $5,739, give or take some sales tax.

My take: Kudos to Lslugger for remembering to include a backup program like SuperDuper. I find the lack of a photo-editing program an interesting omission, especially given that the Pixma MP960 is a photo inkjet multifunction printer, but perhaps Lslugger plans to use the version of iPhoto bundled with the new hardware.

Got a list of your own? Share it in the comments thread below. If we see a list that strikes our fancy, we’ll feature it in the pages of Macworld. I’m particularly interested in seeing whether someone can come up with a creative spin on Chris’s $1,500 home-office budget.

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