I use multiple computers on a daily basis. One for work and several for my personal use. Paul started an email thread on the topic of why or if he really needs personal laptop. I thought it might be interesting to explain why I decided I needed one and how I integrate it with all the other computers in my life. Note, in this discussion I'm not really talking about any machines I have at home for dedicated purposes like home theater / server etc. I'm just talking about computers I log into and use as computers.
As for the laptop decision, mine was mostly driven by the desire to have all my 'stuff' (media, data, and programs) with me where ever I go. So it actually is my 'main' machine, even though I have a more powerful desktop at home with huge drives, multi monitors etc. I always bring my laptop to work and have it up and running the whole day. It runs as a 3rd monitor most of the time but access to my 'stuff' is just a keystroke away (to direct the desktop's keyboard and mouse to the laptop). Having the laptop at hand also opens me up to going mobile much more often. When I'm away from my desk for meetings or when I feel like working 'mobile' I just remote back to my work desktop from my laptop. When I'm out and about on my days off I have my 'stuff' with me. If I need something that isn't on my laptop I can remote to home desktop through hamachi.
When I'm at home however it could have been a problem to switch over to the desktop if it wasn't for the various 'sync' solutions I have place. I have covered 'synctoy' before and I may cover other solutions I use in another post). But as it is, periodically syncing file changes isn't that big a hassle. And I really don't do it all that often for generic data files and media -these don't change very often. My '2nd brain' (Evernote) is always kept in tight sync between all my machines. My 'organizational system' (loosely based on GTD); contacts / calendar / and project/tasking scheme is all in outlook and is exchange based with https access so it works from everywhere. My pocketPC also syncs with this exchange account so it is always up to date, but that is another topic. Work email is also exchange based, while personal email is web based. For active personal projects Google docs removes the need for sync completely. And for Firefox of course I use google browser sync for my cookies, favorites and tabs. I really like this because I can open a pile of tabs for 'research' and transition between locations / machines without losing them. Oh and when I'm on my home desktop and I need access to a program or util that is only on my laptop, I just remote to it. It actually lets me use multi-mon with my laptop if I need to for more efficiency.
This heavy 'remote desktop' use is really critical to my computing model. I also have a couple ultra portable devices (again more about that at a later time) that I use regularly that don't have the processing power or screen size to do heavy things. With those devices I only do a basic set of things, and then remote back to my desktop for everything else. In fact I manage all the other computers in my house via remote desktop as well, from what ever device I happen to have in front of me. With some tricks I can also reach all of them through the internet as well.
This 'remote' use model is the main reason why I keeping digging so hard on finding a good mac equivalent (hint VNC isn't going to cut it). I just don't see how I can integrate a mac of any shape into my life without solving the remote desktop and other syncing issues first. Not to mention all the hassle that would come from trying to use non-intersecting applications between the two platforms.
I know that I am at one extreme end of the geek spectrum with my current computer use. Many former uber-geeks have burned out on this model and switched to trying to reduce and simplify the technology they use in their life. How many computers to you have? And how do you use them in your life?