The laptop-as-a-desktop aspect of my MacBook has been on my mind again recently. Not only because the games available and the games I want to play are facing something of a convergence. I have powerful hardware with an excellent high-DPI display, and much of the time this is ideal on it's own. It has been of benefit however to have use of a larger display. This is especially true of games, where the performance drain needed to run at 2880x1800 and the benefits of a physically larger screen make running on an external monitor not only appealing but outright beneficial. Reading, photography and writing benefit immensely from the retina display but sometimes being able to turn this machine into the equivalent of an iMac is great.
Of course being able to easily take my primary machine with me when I visit family or stay away for an extended period has been pretty wonderful. Really I have an opportunity to make the best of both worlds, and I want to make the most of it. Not to mention having dual screens should the desire arise.
I've been curious about being able to extend the functionality of the hardware, but I want to be a little more intelligent about it than having a bunch of USB based peripherals. Thunderbolt makes for some interesting possibilities, so Apple's Thunderbolt display has been on my wish list. The Thunderbolt Display is all but a computer in it's own right. It has in essence a motherboard; hardware controllers and drivers for the built in array of connectivity options, webcam, speakers, ambient light sensors and so on. It's a little more like a docking station in terms of features, than simply an external monitor. If I change computer the screen need not be replaced and any other machine with a Thunderbolt port can make use of it; an interesting possibility with the proliferation of Macs amongst my friends.
Of course, part of me really, really wants the glorious 27" panel with it's professional grade colour reproduction and extreme shininess. There's always more to life than plain functionality.
I am still pursuing the concept of an ideal workspace. My desk is where I spend most of my waking hours at home; I want to enjoy being there (and I do), and each refinement makes me happy on a possibly worrying, slightly obsessive level. Removing clutter, removing cables, finding those things that so closely fit my needs as possible. Being able to run a single cord chain to the display and to my laptop is very appealing. I have banished almost all cables from my desk. This would not even necessitate speaker cables.
I could buy a bigger screen or a screen with even more accurate colour precision/gamut.
I could buy far superior speakers with better bass or surround.
I could buy any number of very solid expansion options; I have USB 3.
There are far higher resolution webcams and better microphones.
I certainly could spend less.
I do not believe it is possible currently to buy anything more ideal for my needs.