I have a small studio where I teach music lessons. The Mac that is currently there is a 2010 iMac. Though it is upgraded RAM, an SSD, and uses the OpenCore boot loader to get a more modern OS (Big Sur), with a nice tax refund, it’s time to think about a replacement.
I don’t need a powerful machine at all. But I do think being on the M1/2 platform will last longer than looking at anything Intel used. A blue iMac would look good with everything else in the room. I could easily get by on the base model, although it would be nice to have the Touch ID keyboard and ethernet (if I can convince management to run the wire from the next room, cuz I’m at a horrible wifi spot).
If I were to be more economical, I could get a Mac mini, either new or used. I could use my current keyboard/mouse that use AA rechargeables, and then just need a monitor.
I suppose a 3rd option is to have my wife upgrade her 2015 MacBook Pro, to maybe an M2 Air, and I could use her old machine at work with an external monitor. She works from home 2 days a week. We put a battery in that not too long ago. She doesn’t complain, but she could.
What screen size is your current iMac? It sounds like the blue iMac would be a pretty nice addition to the room for both you and students, so I’d only hesitate to recommend it if you’re currently using a larger 27" screen.
The 2010 iMac is 21.5" with a nice bezel. No complaints on the size though. It’s not used much for teaching, unless a kid forgets their copy or had the music but only on a file.
We don’t really need to be super frugal. The $200-500 we could save won’t hurt. But at the same time, a kitchen reno will be starting this year. But also going modular offers potentially an easier upgrade path, hopefully 13 years in the future. I would need a webcam with occasional online lessons.
There’s a lot to be said for “all in one” iMacs in a classroom setting. You really don’t want to be connecting and disconnecting a monitor: the connection is always a weak spot that will let you down when you most need it.
And portable computers get moved. I once had a laptop stolen from a classroom by someone who simply walked in, confidently put it into a laptop case and walked out of the building with it under his arm, and no-one saw any reason to be suspicious. Carrying an iMac might get someone to ask why. Even if it is not stolen, colleagues or you are more likely to take it somewhere and forget to bring it back than they are an iMac.
It’s really not a classroom setting. It’s one on one music instruction, in a very small room. Room for a desk, 2 chairs, a music stand, and some space for instrument cases. Maybe slightly larger than an average walk in closet. Believe it or not, an upgrade from the previous room I was renting, which had a little less space and no window.
Mac isn’t used much in direct instruction. Mostly calendar, emails, occasional music playing.
I’m a fan of the “Mini + separate monitor”, personally - unless it needs to be portable or you have very specific display resolution requirements. If you’re fine with a 32" 4K commodity display, or can use an existing display, the Mini is the way to fly IMHO. Spend the extra money on RAM or SSD if you need it. And always shop the refurb store.
It absolutely does not need to be portable. It’s my own space and is locked. And really, 32" would be way too big. The 21" I have now is fine. I think 27" would be distracting, 24" probably being the max. 8gb RAM would be just fine, a larger than base SSD would be nice but I could get away with just 256. My biggest road block going the mini route is, the current deals on the m1 mini aren’t great relative to the cost of a new m2 mini. I see base model used in the $450-500. But I don’t want to put the newest chip where it isn’t going to do much.