I didn't have to have it--I've got a inexpensive Compaq laptop that works perfectly well for my needs, especially since I'm not a gamer, I'm not a programmer, I'm not a graphic artist... there's nothing I do that puts any particular strain on a microprocessor--still, the siren call of a Brand! New! Shiny! Desktop! Computer! was irresistible and what the hell; I just got a refund check from the IRS (bless e-filing and direct deposit), this month's bills are taken care of, the car is paid off, and I've got a case of Ramen noodles and a nice cardboard box set aside for my retirement, so I'm indulging myself.
For the geekier among you:
HP Pavilion a6712f-b
HP w2207h 22" diagonal widescreen LCD flat panel monitor
Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core Desktop Processor E5200
6GB installed memory
500GB hard drive
SuperMulti DVD Burner with LightScribe Technology
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition with Service Pack 1
For me, the most impressive thing is the monitor--22 inches of full flat screen glory, which is/are particularly appreciated since I no longer have a working DVD player and even when I did my TV set measures only 19 inches. Keep in mind, too, that my first computer was an itty-bitty ol' Macintosh 512Ke with a 9-inch screen and my most recent was a 17-incher, so this is an amazing thing to behold.
Now, I hate unpacking consumer electronics--manufacturers have a bad habit of sticking essential accessories in the damnedest places and with boxes inside of boxes and cardboard separators often serving double-duty as component carriers I'm always concerned I'm going to overlook something critical and, well, delay my gratification. Fortunately, everything I needed for set-up was plainly visible; unfortunately, some of the instructions were a little... uh... unhelpful. HP decided upon a minimalist approach, eschewing nice, meaty blocks of text for these poster-sized enclosures with pictures and arrows which really told me nothing. I've set up (HP) computers before, so I didn't really need a lot of help, but when it came time to hook up the monitor speakers... where the hell was the input? The accompanying diagram pointed to an area of approximately fifty square inches and you'd think it'd be pretty damn easy to spot a light-orange color-coded quarter-inch speaker jack amongst all that cyberpunk-black space, but you'd be wrong. After several minutes of searching and pondering I finally hit upon the bright idea of inverting the monitor, whereupon I noticed... something... peeking out from beneath the edge and behind the pedestal attachment. Problem solved.
And speaking of delayed gratification, I always forget that new computers need to go through a lengthy set of self-calibration exercises followed by an even lengthier series of update/installation checks, things which prevent me from getting on with the important stuff, namely, copying a hefty-sized picture of the ever-watchful eye of HAL and designating it as my wallpaper, downloading Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird so as never to see Explorer and Outlook ever again (except at work), and installing all the fun little add-ons I so dearly love (Google Notebook, Picasa 3, Open Office, and no, thank you, I do NOT care to try Microsoft Office free for 60 days, now go away!).
The short version: I'm up and running.