Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Monitor and Keyboard for my MacBook Pro

For some time I've thought about redoing the desk in my office, where I have my XP box Bagend situated. Bagend has seen hardly any use since I bought my G4 iBook back in December 2004. I much prefer working on the Mac platform and a laptop's ability to be used anywhere in the house is very appealing. This opinion was only magnified when I bought Rohan, my MacBook Pro back in January 2007.

However, sometimes I'd like to be able to use a full sized keyboard and a larger monitor with a higher resolution. The monitor on Bagend was my old ViewSonic GS771. I've had it for at least 10 years and it's been a workhorse. I got my money's worth out of it, but decided it was finally time to get something with a larger screen that would take up less desk space than a CRT. One of my goals was to setup Rohan with the external screen, keyboard, and mouse, and use the laptop with its cover closed.

So, today at Microcenter I picked up an Acer AL2016W 20" widescreen LCD display and a Macally Icekey Mac keyboard.

Initially, I was leaning towards a 20" widescreen ViewSonic, but it was about $100 more than the Acer and I didn't really want to spend the extra money. One of my clients has a similar Acer LCD and it looks nice, so after seeing the display model I decided to give it a chance.

The Acer has DVI and VGA inputs, and comes with cables for both. It's connected to Rohan via DVI. The Mac automatically detected it and set it to the max resolution of 1680x1050. The refresh rate is 60 Hz, which I'm hoping will be OK. Text and graphics look good so far.

The Macally keyboard came with a driver CD for OS 9 and OS 10, but I don't think the driver has been updated for several years. It may not be fully compatible with Leopard. For example, the volume control and eject buttons don't seem to work. If I can't get them working soon I'll return it and get something else. I do like the feel of the keyboard. It's somewhat reminiscent of the G4 iBook keyboard, though the keys take a bit more effort to depress.

While I was at Microcenter I checked out one of the new Apple keyboards, which was connected to an iMac. I hated it. I might be able to get used to it but I think there are better options available for less money.

The mouse I'm using is the same Logitech laser wheel mouse which I had connected to Bagend. I've found that my favorite mice are low-end Logitechs which sell for about $15.

Since Rohan's cover is closed I would like to have an external webcam and mic to use with iChatAV and Skype. I had a Logitech USB webcam connected to Bagend but neither IM program is recognizing it. I'll see if there's a Mac driver available, but I doubt it.


Doctor Mac : Palm Springs, CA said...

Logitech webcams are so 'iffy' on a Mac - too many sensors, models, only a few of which are right for a Mac. The open source MACAM driver +'s iUSBChat software may prove a working combination. UVC compliant webcams are your best choice for true plug and play simplicity on modern Macs or Vista: Some good UVC compatible cams are listed here:

Al Sande said...

Well, Dave - I took the plunge (maybe dipped my toe into the water is a better description) and bought a Mac Mini to play with - it arrived on Friday afternoon...

It's a tiny little box that's presently surrounded by laptops and towers primarily running Ubuntu (with a couple of Windows XP boxes that run the last couple of apps that I haven't been able to port over to Linux). I have a 4-port KVM in this room to switch things through a single monitor-keyboard (I must have this "geek" thing bad).

I suspect that OSX won't replace Linux here soon, but I am anticipating changing my video editing platform over to the Mac and probably Final Cut Pro sometime in the future, and while that won't run on the Mini due to graphics issues, I figured it was a relatively inexpensive way to learn how the other half lives and get a little more comfortable.

Having purged Vista from the last couple of new machines I've purchased, I can't help thinking that even Micro$ofts billions won't help them out of their present jam.


Dave Markowitz said...

Welcome to the Apple Club. ;)