My wife and I went office furniture shopping this weekend in the USA to try and get some more organization here in my new career. We started at Office Max and looked at a plain desk (no drawers) with a four-drawer file cabinet system behind me (two drawers high). However, when you added it all up, you ended up with a $1000 system that would probably only have a resale value of $200 in 2 years and was made up of dressed-up particle board and probably would not do well if it got wet, might fall apart if someone leaned on it or sat on it, and would probably not last among too many moves from location to location without chipping. So that was a bad deal.
We then went looking in every major name brand furniture outlet. Every time we met someone at the entrance, they either told us they didn't have any home office furniture for us, or only had traditional looking desks that were over-priced and looked like they would be appropriate if I were into the "steampunk" look. (I'm not.) I was looking for something plain, modern, simple -- euro
-- because they have far more class than folks in the states, right?
My wife then had a great idea. What if we were to find a euro-style dining room set, minus the chairs, and use the buffet cabinet as a file cabinet if you take the shelves out and stick hanging folder file crates inside? So, to our surprise, we found the Kathy Ireland Bay Heights table
and buffet cabinet
was perfect, and perhaps you might find it perfect for your home office too. It cost us about $1000 but provided far more space, durability, appearance, and resale value than what we could have gotten from Office Max.
We took it home, assembled it, and then I discovered that I have too many cords for various things in my office. So, one way to reduce the cord clutter and bulk is to get a laptop, but then attach flat panel LCD monitor and keyboard to it. That way, you can quickly take your work on the run really fast without copying stuff over, you get a bigger screen, and you can spill stuff on your keyboard without frying the laptop (usually). So I looked for a cheap laptop that I could run Ubuntu Linux on. Of course, I love the Apple hardware, but it was pricey and all I would get extra is the indiglo keyboard, especially since I wasn't planning on using the Apple OSX operating system. Therefore, I picked up an Acer Extensia 4420 for $500 at BestBuy. I like its small screen but yet it's not so small that you can't do coding on it (besides, I'll attach a separate flat panel monitor to it). It has 2GB of RAM, some healthy video RAM, it's zippy fast with its AMD Athlon 64 X2, a 160GB hard drive, built-in wireless, a great keyboard feel, it's lightweight, has a decent battery life, and fits nicely into a small space.
It was also disappointingly typical how the BestBuy gave my wife the expected spiel on this thing. The Acer Extensias are Best Buy's loss leader, so they hate it when you go in and only want this, don't want a warranty, and don't want to take an upsell. My wife was the one picking up the laptop, and she got hassled about not wanting the warranty, and then he was saying, "Are you sure you want an Acer? I mean, they don't have much of a hardware record, do they?" But look around. The HPs have an annoying touchpad -- I know, I have one already for doing my Vista/IE7 testing. The Toshibas have a super-shiny keyboard that makes it hard to see the keys because of the screen glare. The Compaqs were not a good deal compared to the Acer. The Sonys were really nice, but also at a heavy price and still weren't a good deal compared to the Acer.