Let’s talk peripherals.
What are peripherals? The things other than the computer box itself. Things like the monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers. They’re way more important than I initially recognized. But really, they are the only parts of the computer that you actually have to interact with. Before I learned this I made some pretty glaring mistakes.
I bought a crappy 19in Dell monitor on Amazon.com. I chose this monitor for a few reasons. First, I’d spent the last couple hours buying all the other parts and I was tired. Plus I hadn’t thought about what I really wanted from a monitor and hadn’t made lists like I had with all the other components. Also, I had no idea that monitors were as expensive as they were and this one was the cheapest decent one on Amazon. Finally, none of my computer-minded friends/family told me anything about monitors. This monitor was a mistake. A $94 (including shipping) mistake. As soon as I pulled it out of the box I knew. I immediately put it for sale online on three different websites. Luckily someone bought it from me for $80 not long after, so it was only a $12 loss. And boy did I feel stupid.
So, what did I want from a monitor. Widescreen. HD resolution. 20-ish inches. DVI plug (My Blu-ray player only works with monitors that have a DVI or HDMI plug). I mentioned this to my sister’s boyfriend and he immediately offered to sell me his monitor since he was upgrading. I waited until I sold the first lame one then bought his. So, I got a 23in Samsung 2343 BWX for $150 minus power and DVI cables. Samsung no longer sells this model, but it’s still an excellent monitor. It’s this monitor, click the link to go to the Newegg product page.
I love it. It’s biiiig! So much screen space! And, trust me, I am using the Windows 7 snapping feature like ain’t nobody’s business. In fact more often than not I am looking at two windows at once. Now I understand people who prefer to have two monitors at all times. But I won’t be doing that any time soon. No, sir. I had to wait a few more days before the power and DVI cables came in. I almost bought them on eBay, but my sister’s boyfriend wisely advised I buy them from Newegg. After the lesson I learned with the monitor I decided to buy a good product, not just a cheap one. As soon as they came I plugged this baby in (after making the cable hole in my desk a little bit bigger. Don’t tell my landlord.) and popped in John Carter. Oh it looked good. But I was too busy to watch it. I was going to watch it tonight, but I decided to update this instead. You’re welcome.
I listen to music pretty much all the time plus there’s no way I was going to have crappy speakers to go along with my excellent movie watching capabilities. However, I didn’t want to spend that much. I talked a bit with a friend of mine who does sound for film and decided that a 2.1 set of speakers with a sub-woofer for about $40 was a good plan. I went to Best Buy, found a salesman, told him I wanted computer speakers for about $40, he immediately took me to a set that were on sale from $50. I took a minute to make sure I was sure, then I bought those suckers. Logitech Z313 Speaker System. Click the picture to go to the Logitech info page.
I went home, plugged them in and turned on Justin Timberlake. He sounded so good. I tried turning them up all the way and they were too loud to be near. Good! I’ll never be disappointed by how loud they can get. I’ve been using them for a few weeks and I love them. Score at Best Buy!
Keyboard and Mouse
I already had a wireless mouse that I’d bought one night at 2AM when I had some task that was going to take 80 years using a trackpad. Best late night purchase I’ve ever made for two reasons. One, I love that mouse. Two, I made it in and out of WalMart in less than 20 minutes. The latter would be an accomplishment all on it’s own, but coupled with the great mouse this is a total victory.
I had been given an Apple keyboard for free and was happy with it for the most part. I was having to learn again how to use the Control and Alt keys the way they are programmed with Windows, but that wasn’t the keyboard’s fault. I really liked that it had the pause, track forward, track backward, and volume buttons. But then I needed to take screen captures. Not possible without reprogramming the keyboard. I thought about doing this, but decided I wanted a for real keyboard that I had paid for. Finding the right one was a journey. I went planning on spending $20-30.
One night about 7:30 I had time to go to the store. I went to Best Buy, who close at 9:00pm. While in the keyboard section I had a pleasant conversation with the salesman. In the course of this conversation he said, “You conceal your age well, elf! Tell me your secrets.” Oh and then he complimented my sweatshirt and started telling me about a jacket from South Korea he was thinking of buying online. It was not weird. Seriously, he was cool. All of their keyboards were reeeally expensive. Who knew! All of the ones that were $20-30 were not great. So I left.
I went next door to Office Depot. The salesman here was also helpful. He talked to me about which keyboard his wife had and what was good about all of them. There were some good keyboard there, but all of them were out of my price range by a lot.
I went to WalMart. They had a few keyboards, but no good ones. The ones in my price range were not ones I felt like spending a lot of time typing on. Onward!
To Target! About the same story as WalMart. Not a big selection.
Back to Best Buy! It was 8:40. I found one I liked on display, but they were all sold out. I found a salesman, he checked in the back. Yup, all gone. But I could order one without shipping, though it would take a while since it was Friday night and they wouldn’t get the order in until Monday. Blah blah blah. Darn it.
Back to Office Depot ten minutes before closing! They had the same keyboard! But for $25 more. And guess whaaat! They price match. It took a minute because it was only on sale for that price in that store so they had to call over. I talked with a salesman there about computers. I told him I work with movies and that I’d worked on one that was really popular with gamers. He hadn’t seen it yet, but was planning on it very soon. He proceeded to talk to me about the video game industry, which I know a bit about. We discussed where that industry will go in the next 20 years. It was not as fun as talking to the Best Buy guy who was in to Korean fashion.
But I got a great wireless keyboard and mouse for $40. They’re unified, which means that one USB reciever works for both of them. Sadly, this mouse is gray. My other mouse was blue and thus prettier. Even though they are the same model of mouse the USB receiver for the keyboard and the gray mouse doesn’t work for the blue one. I used my blue mouse anyway. So, the whole point of buying a unified wireless set was completely ruined. Sadly I keep having to use my laptop for things once in a while and so I’ve reserved the blue mouse for that. As soon as I’m done with that laptop, I’ll most likely go back to the blue mouse. Frivolous, I know, but I can’t fight who I am.
Here’s the final product, with which I am quite pleased. Moral of the story is that it’s very tempting (and easy) to skimp out on peripherals, but at the end of the day these are the parts of the computer you actually have to deal with so it’s worth the extra time and money to get what you really want.
The first picture is a frame from The Tree of Life, which looks excellent on this monitor on Blu-ray, though it’s nothing compared to seeing it in the theater. I wanted to show off my monitor. If the print-screen button wasn’t disabled by my Blu-ray software, this image would be my desktop background. It’s one of the most beautiful images I’ve ever seen.
The second picture is my actual desktop. Yes I am thoroughly enjoying No Doubt’s new album Push and Shove.
In my next post I’ll impress myself and you as I do my own hardware changes and software fixing.