wuySo here are my thoughts:
The most obvious option is what Eddie has already suggested: something that will last me another six years. Given the fact that desktops are, in my experience, more reliable than laptops, that would probably be a Mac Pro. It has all the power I could ever want (for the moment), but uses less electricity than my G5. It has room for four internal hard drives, which will make for easy RAID building; and plenty of room for expansion (Firewire 800, PCI Express 2.0, up to 32GB of RAM, etc.).
The big down side is the price: a Mac Pro costs $2,499 or $3,299 with no upgrades, plus whatever else I’d like to spend on a new display (and no, my old display won’t work with its new-fangled ports, so I’ll need to upgrade that, too). It’s really not a bad deal, for what you’re getting, but do I really need that much? If I were constantly doing graphics or video, sure; but as a developer, I’d actually probably be better off with something simpler—if for no other reason, so that I can have a realistic idea of how fast my programs will run, for the average end user.
The next option is a MacBook Pro. It really is the perfect marriage of power and portability, and the 13″ model—which would be fine, with a big, external display—starts at $1,199. It would be wonderful to be able to just up and take my work with me, at a moment’s notice, but my experience with laptops—as mentioned—has not been good. They seem to break down a lot more often than their desktop counterparts, and as long as I’m paid by the hour, no computer means no income. Even with Apple’s amazing warranty service, minimizing downtime is very important (although admittedly, I would still have Anila as a backup machine).
The third option, then, would be an iMac. Believe it or not, this is the direction I’m leaning. It’s the same price point as a MacBook Pro, but it has up to a 24″ display included. By saving a grand or two on my computer this year, I can start putting some money aside to upgrade again, in 2-3 years instead of six. I’ll have a decent machine now—and one that’s much more similar to what my users have, than a Mac Pro—plus, by halving my upgrade cycle, I’ll have one that’s faster than the Mac Pro, sooner.
Of course, the iMac would require me to make some sacrifices. I’ll have to get some new external drive enclosures, and keep most of my files outside of the system itself. It also has a 24″ display, which is considerably smaller than the 30″ display I would buy, with the Mac Pro (and I don’t think my desk can support both, so if I wanted to get the 30″ anyway, I’d need a new desk). But all in all, the iMac is definitely high on my list. It’s still going to be a few months, before I can get the fundage together, so we’ll see where this goes.