A former editor of mine used to tell the story of a somewhat inconspicuous chap with whom he was at school – let’s call him Dickens – whose sole ability as a boy was keeping his desk tidy. In his 30s, my editor spotted the guy on the Tube.
“Dickens!” he said. “So what are you doing now?”
“Well,” he replied. “Just today I got a scholarship to do my PhD at MIT.”
“Come on, Dickens,” my editor said, “You don’t get a scholarship to MIT for having a tidy desk.”
While some are suspicious of people with tidy desks, I am no fan of messy ones. I am convinced I work better when all around me is minimally cluttered. It was for reasons of desk tidiness that I abandoned desktop computers in 2006. I found that a laptop, as long as it was sufficiently powerful and had a big enough screen, was much neater.
However, laptops with desktop power are now so compact that the tidiness argument is wearing thin. My two puppies, a MacBook and a Dell XPS 13, 12in and 13in respectively, are so titchy that with all the necessary cables and USB hubs attached for office use, they look like a hospital patient on life support. And the screens are so small, it is difficult to have several things open at the same time to make my workflow smoother. So I thought I would reassess desktops by trying out the latest kit, and borrowed the new 27in, 5K-display iMac from Apple. (Shortly after you read this, Apple will be releasing an iMac Pro, an absurdly potent version featuring a central processing unit with up to 18 cores, treble the graphics power, 128GB of memory, 4TB of flash storage and a sexy black finish. Trust me, neither you nor I need this, but if you’d like it, you might have to set aside a few thousand pounds for the top spec.)
Back to reality: does a regular iMac make sense in 2018? There is indeed plenty of space to have multiple documents and applications on view at the same time. The 5K screen also makes great quality photos and videos look magical. The machine itself is a piece of sculpture, highly conducive to good work. And it’s so self-contained it will help the clutterati to keep a tidy desk. Conclusion: if my desk were big enough, I would buy this, or its 21.5in brother, in a heartbeat. For now, it isn’t. But when that Pro comes along…