Apple announces the new iMac.
January 7, 2002 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Apple announces the new iMac. Looks kind of retro. What do you think?
posted by Modem Ovary (118 comments total)
We are busy updating the store for you and will be back within the hour.

Bad timing I guess.
posted by sillygwailo at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2002

it looks like an Airport with a swivel screen attached. I like the swivel screen idea, I just think the "bulb" it rests on is ugly. not up to their usual design standard.
posted by rebeccablood at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2002

wow, apple is giving all attendees at Macworld a copy of the latest Time Magazine.
posted by futureproof at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2002

backstage pass to the future, indeed.
posted by tomplus2 at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2002

When Steve showed the cover of Time, he said "In case you haven't already heard..." Heh.
posted by Potsy at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2002

that it doesn't look any different from yesterday.
posted by Hankins at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2002

Triple - or quadruple - post? I've lost track. Anyone know what the record is?
posted by Sinner at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2002

It looks like a table lamp. And not a particularly nice one, either.
posted by jokeefe at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2002

Looks kind of retro. What do you think?

I think retro would look like this...
posted by msacheson at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2002

15 inch screen? Bah. Wake me in six months or so when they have a decent screen size.
posted by ColdChef at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2002

So retro, it's like the 1970s Web. Shouldn't Apple have thought to put up a few more servers?
posted by boardman at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2002

14" ibooks are good to see as well.

I was glad to see iPhoto. I was just talking with someone last week about digital cameras. Whenever I go to a family function now, and whip out my camera, invariably, an uncle or cousin wants to check it out, and they say things like "I want one of those, but should I get a computer too?" I have to explain to them that yes, you need a computer, then you need to get fairly proficient at using that computer, then you get some photo software, get good at that, then buy a digital camera, and put it all together. The next question is usually "how do I print photos out of it?" Digital cameras are everywhere, but they're pretty hard to work with. I think Apple's reaching a huge market of people that want to play with these things and don't have years of experience using computers.

I don't think the design of the new imac is too bad, it's so small you'll probably hardly notice it anyway.
posted by mathowie at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2002

OK, now that we know what "it" is officially. Why aren't people crying for blood about the hype? What the hell was this "way beyond" in terms of rumors? Because rumors that they had upped the processor speed and used a flat panel display in the new iMacs was considered to be the absolute low end of what they might dare to announce with that kind of hype.

Note: I'm not saying it's bad, it's not, but it's certainly not living up to the hype and after two trips to that particular well where all we came back with was the iPod and this, I think that the Apple hype well is offically dry.
posted by johnmunsch at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2002

the base makes me think of old beauty parlor hairdryers, the kind with the encompassing dome that enabled the beehive and bouffant hairdo.

this is not a good thing.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2002

Looks like E.T.
posted by adampsyche at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2002

imac curling.
posted by tomplus2 at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2002

Why didn't they just reintroduce the cube and just graft the flat panel on it?

I can't wait to for the hackers to get their hands on of these and attach the cinema display to it, though.
posted by panopticon at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2002

Where did my post go? I wasn't being mean!
posted by thirteen at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2002

I am still amazed that the main selling point of a computer can be its physical appearance. Sure, it has marketing importance, but all the new Mac lovers I know who bought the first iMac bought it because of the colors. It was only afterward that they got pissed about the small keyboard, tiny non-contour mouse, lack of a disk drive and smaller selection of available software.
posted by fleener at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2002

...and the OS war begins anew.

"I'd rather push a Chevy than drive a Ford!"
posted by ColdChef at 11:24 AM on January 7, 2002

What johnmunsch said.
posted by goto11 at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2002

how is this an OS war? people are commenting on Apple's latest offerings.

mathowie: also, the introduction of a system for ordering hardbound books of photos from your digital images. absolutely brilliant.
posted by rebeccablood at 11:28 AM on January 7, 2002

I'm surprised that no speed bump to the Power Mac G4 was announced. The new iMac has a 700/800 MHz G4. The Power Mac has a 733/867/800(DP) MHz G4, costs more, and the monitor is extra. They risk cannibalizing their tower sales with this baby, so there has to be something coming in very short order. But for the moment, I am perplexed.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:28 AM on January 7, 2002

Not bad, spec-wise. Decent value, esp when loaded with the SuperDrive. iPhoto might be the best new intro today, though.

However, I'd prefer to get my hands on a JVC Videosphere. Now *that* was cool ... in 1970.
posted by skyboy at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2002

It really is unique looking and art deco to me. I can see where it "goes where no PC has gone before," but I don't exactly think it's a "backstage pass to the future." I love the design, though. If I had money to burn and I didn't care about upgrading and adding components, I'd buy one.
posted by Modem Ovary at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2002

I don't know about anyone else but how often would you want to move your screen around like that - really? I can't remember the last time I repositioned my monitor. Am I missing something here?
posted by joshua at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2002

The hype is justified..

A consumer - targeted model that has the smallest footprint of a computer ever seen before, plus with hardware that blows away top of the line computers running P4's and Athlons in speed.

All they needed to do to lock it up was to make the keyboard and optical mouse wireless, with the infra-red imbedded into that little base.

Sure there have been flat panel designs from PC manufacturers that have the same or smaller footprints, putting all the CPU stuff in the screen piece, but they haven't been affordable at this level, or included the amount of stuff packed into this thing.
posted by rich at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2002

Same, Modem. That alone will keep me on LinTel for the near future. I do like the pretty things that OS X has, but I'm frustrated with everything else about a Mac and MacOS. What I'd really like, though, is to be able to work with a mac side by side with the windows and linux boxes I already keep captive at my desk.
posted by SpecialK at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2002


I don't know much about macs, so this may sound ignorant, but... how do they blow away top of the line P4s and Athlons in speed? I heard on the radio today that the new P4 is over 2GHz. This new iMac has an 800MHz G4. Seems like a big gap to me.
posted by starvingartist at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2002

Whether the hype was justifiable or not is arguable, but I just don't see Apple making significant inroads to the consumer market unless they priced this at $2.50 or gave it away in Cheerios boxes.

People use Windows everywhere, at work and at home. They will be predisposed to stick with what they know. For that matter, I can't imagine that the clueless newbie computer buyer would be attracted to a Mac for its built-in FireWire ('FireWho?') and a Mhz number that is lower than what they see on that cheap PC over there.

Apple has its afficiandos, and I think that about covers it, plus or minus 1%.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2002

As with all design/aesthetic things, it will take a little time to draw meaningful conclusions/impressions. But my initial thought was one of disappointment. (also, I'm not sure if the original iMac thrilled me, even though it is, without doubt, a design winner) Next impression:intrigue over the fact this is, obviously designed to take up as little room as possible; disappear, basically, and "go where no computer has before.": small desks, small apartments, retail displays, classrooms, etc. Perhaps you could design a desk where the "base" would be hidden, and you would be left with a screen (at a price point lower than just a flat screen discplay with a traditional G4..

One other thought: Even without the teaser slogan, I would have immediately thought of Star Trek, specifically the Commander Pike Episode, where, to show the "past in the future," the Enterprise was fitted with station view screens attached to consoles in the matter of the new iMac (or close) matter. This is not a flattering thing, since the present in the future is better.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2002

starvingartist -

Processor speed is not determined by Hz alone. In terms of actual speed, an Athlon XP processor at 1333 can outpace a Pentium 4 at 1.5 GHz in benchmark tests. That Athlon proc is dubbed the 1500+, because it has the speed of a Pentium 1.5 GHz, though the clock speed is at 1333. I believe it has to do with the Athlon XP performing more instructions per cycle, but don't quote me on that.
posted by adampsyche at 11:48 AM on January 7, 2002

tsk tsk... AMD (among others) would roast you over an open fire for perpetuating the "megahertz myth."

short answer: not only do you have to look at the cycles per second (MHz), you have to look at what the processor does with each cycle. i know Athlons are more efficient than P4's in this respect (the relevant unit is IPC, or instructions per clock cycle) but i don't know personally how G4's stack up.
posted by zerolucid at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2002

I last had a Mac in '97 (and it wasn't a new one, either), and haven't thought much of going back (except for briefly lusting after the cube).

this, I like.

repositioning the monitor? when your S.O. is several inches taller than you are, that's a good thing. plus when that same S.O. loves rearranging the house every couple of months.... moving a computer, or several computers, with 17" CRTs, is no small matter.

the little round base? it looks basically invisible, at least compared to your average WinTel tower. which means I could easily put it on a little tiny desk, or the kitchen table.

of course, I can imagine that the ghostly silver/white gets dirty pretty damn easily. and it's not too expandable, but that's what my big ugly server tower is for. :)

now, if only I had the money.....
posted by epersonae at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2002

Here is a little bit on that (second paragraph).

The only reason I have this in mind is because I bought an Athlon XP last week, and did some research on it. Back to the iMac, it looks pretty cool, and I agree with fleener that it is a sad state of affairs when the form of a computer is sought after more than its function. Whatever happened to function inspires form? True, beige is boring, but...
posted by adampsyche at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2002

Macslash has a good roundup of what's new.
posted by alana at 11:57 AM on January 7, 2002

I completely agree that it fell short of the hype. Of course, I started hearing about the flat panel iMac a long time ago (as did any other rabid mac fan), but I would guess most people did not. Which is why, I gather, it's on the next cover of Time. To me it seems overdue, everyone was expecting it at July's MWNYC. I guess to others, however, it's brand spanking new. But.... where's the pda that uses Newton's (still unmatched ) handwriting recognition engine? For me to get really pumped, that's what it will take. Jobs has said again and again that it isn't gonna happen, tho.

But the iMac... It's a stunningly pretty machine, as is par for the course with Apple. And apparently that bottom access panel will alleviate some of the complaints Apple has had with previous iMacs and the Cube (expandability). The processor speeds are what I would have expected, but the g4 processors are a tremendous advantage, one that I did not expect. OS X runs dramatically better on AltiVec systems than it does on G3 (in fact os x is nearly unacceptable on g3s in my opinion, unless you've got hellaRAM). It's also good to see that they have more video memory than previous models (32 vs. 16). I've got to get down there and check one out.

Having said all that, I think Apple is making a big mistake by not offering a machine for under $1000. The economy maybe improving (see today's Chron), but it will take several months for that effect to hit consumers. With both the iBook and the iMac over $1000, Apple has priced itself out of the range of a lot of people, particularly students. And me.

OOPS: I take this back. The old g3 iMac is still available at $799 at the Apple Store. Not sure whether or not this is a permanent thing, or leftover inventory. In any case, I think they have to have a sub-$1000 machine
posted by emptyage at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2002

how is this an OS war? people are commenting on Apple's latest offerings.

rebeccablood: You should know that whenever a thread is posted about about MS/Apple/Linux, the OS war type comments will rear their ugly heads.

The irony is that illogical Motorola to AMD/Intel comparisons have nothing to do with the fact that this Jobs announcement is about the design of the new iMacs. Though the idea of a Mac running a GeForce2 out of the box sounds extra sweet, the new model is still just OSX on stepped up iMac hardware. What Apple is trying to do is recapture the fire the original iMacs ignited and the cubes promptly abated.

I think in that department, they're doing it right. It is cool looking and it does have the guts to back it up.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2002

This could be a Cube-like disaster. The design is going to provoke strong reactions, negative and positive (so far I think it's ugly). I agree with emptyage: it's a big mistake to not have a low-end iMac available for around $800. The G4 processor is nice, but my mom doesn't know what that is and doesn't care. Why would she spend more money for an odd-looking thing like this? Also, if it doesn't come with a wireless keyboard and mouse, you're going to have an ugly mess of wires.

And it's incredibly disappointing considering Apple's hype.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2002

A G4 iMac based on the Cube at the current prices levels would have been pretty impressive, or maybe something like the 20th Anniversary Macintosh.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2002

Ok, why the hell doesn't it come in different colors? It's not an iMac if it doesn't come in different colors.. instead it just looks hospital white.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:22 PM on January 7, 2002

Also, if it doesn't come with a wireless keyboard and mouse, you're going to have an ugly mess of wires.

The mouse plugs into the keyboard, and the keyboard plugs into the iMac base.
posted by sailormouth at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2002

it looks like a lamp, esp. the ones with those articulated arms. i think it'd be cool if they started making a bunch of different models along those lines, like with a small screen and a fresnal lens or maybe one with a clamp for its base. i think it says something about computers that they're beginning to look like lamps now.
posted by kliuless at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2002

Well, Jobs does have a thing for lamps.
posted by emptyage at 12:41 PM on January 7, 2002

Apple: "To boldly go where no PC has gone before."

Ummm...what about this?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2002

Here's the problem...
The machine is pretty, I bet it's a nice system, but it lacks on software...

Windows has such an extremely wide range of software I would never want to switch... unless Apple suddenly had as much software.
posted by yevge at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2002

Funny, did anyone else follow Matt's two years ago link today? The more things change...
posted by elvissinatra at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2002

or, you know. you could wear the new imac on your head.
posted by moz at 12:53 PM on January 7, 2002

kirkaracha: Also, if it doesn't come with a wireless keyboard and mouse, you're going to have an ugly mess of wires.

Oh, boy! Two wires, or four with speakers. How many cords does a PC need? I too would have liked to see wireless but, c'mon, two wires isn't going to be a deal breaker for consumers.

For consumers, the iMac is (potentially) killer. With iPhoto, it truly is a one-stop shop for media schtuff. It's futuristic, it's elegant, it's got 5 USB ports (finally!)... this is a great consumer machine. Until the G4 towers get speed bumps, too, these are a great value.

The 15" display is a bit small, but it's a flat-panel. That's the trade-off. I'll take a 15" flat panel over a behemoth 17" or larger anyday. Again, consumers will like the small footprint.

And yes, yevge, there is still a lack of Mac software... but think about what new folks want a computer for. They want to get online. They want to play music and download it, too. They want to type letters and do some light work. They might want to do photos, or maybe videos. The new iMacs can do all of that, and do it (arguably) very well. It's the closest thing to an appliance yet.
posted by hijinx at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2002

MOZ: WHEN DOES the hopping rabbit with the imac on its head come out?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2002


Be careful what you ask for...

The Mac OS X, with the addition of VPC 5.0 can run all your windows (95, 98, NT 4, ME, 2000 Pro, XP home and XP Pro) software, all Linux software, all OS/2 software, all DOS software and all Mac OS 9 software. (see this for more ino)

Oh, Mac OS X can also run all these OSs at the same time.

I guess you'll be switching then?
posted by DragonBoy at 1:03 PM on January 7, 2002

MWHAHAHAHAHAHA. The emperor has no clothes. I don't understand what advantages this unit has over a decent laptop. I'd take the iBook over this guy any day.
posted by prodigal at 1:03 PM on January 7, 2002

unix software still has a way to go before many can be natively installed on mac osx however. (i've had quite a bit of frustration with some programs failing to compile.)
posted by moz at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2002

Time has now posted the story.
posted by rex at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2002

yeah. nothing even close in the boring world of the pc. all beige, everywhere you look.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:09 PM on January 7, 2002

I like it. I want one, and I've never owned a Mac in my life.

I agree with a lot of what hijinx said. Upgrade schmupgrade. By the time I get the courage to delve into the innards of my PC, the cost of upgrading to where I'd like it to be as as prohibitive as just buying a new damn computer. Also, I can't think of any software I would want that I can't get for a Mac.

I'm an artistically inclinded writer with delusions of occasional graphic and web design who likes to surf the web. And who has a very small desk. And bad eyesight.

posted by jennyb at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2002


The headphones jack shoud've been upfront, not all headphones have such long wires.
posted by riffola at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2002

Oops sorry, should've linked to the image.
posted by riffola at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2002

how often would you want to move your screen around like that?

Think schools. The feature will be a huge hit there.
posted by kindall at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2002

riffola, you have 180 degrees of screen pivot to work with. Turn the base 90 degrees so the ports or on the side. What do people do when their PC tower is on the floor?

I'm really surprised people aren't as amazed with iPhoto as I am. That business model will sell more Mac hardware than any marketing effort, ad campaign, or retail shop could produce.
posted by machaus at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2002

I don't know, the more I look at it on Apple's site, the more I like it. I think it's going to sell like crazy.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2002

re: the power plug.
it looks eerily like a certain iconic mouse.
posted by moz at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2002

yeah. nothing even close in the boring world of the pc. all beige, everywhere you look.

Of course, that computer you linked to features an 800MHz Pentium III, 64MB RAM, 20GB HD, integrated graphics, no ethernet card, and no optical drive. But at least it's priced to move at only $3,200.
posted by John Galt at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2002

what's new about iPhoto? there've been similar media management systems (at least for PC) out for quite a while now. sure, they use the design flavor of the month to lay it out, but its nothing fundamentally new.
posted by badstone at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2002

machaus: Most PCs have their headphone jacks in one of the speakers. I am not saying it's a bad design, just that the headphones jack could have been placed a bit upfront. As for PCs without speakers that have a headphones jack in the speakers (or in same cases the monitors), and the tower is too big to put on the desktop, you usually would need an extension. The same of course can and will apply for this iMac.
posted by riffola at 1:30 PM on January 7, 2002


We're talking iMac here, right? iMac was never upgradeable. Besides, you buy your regular old PC.. when do you upgrade that? Only to add cards to support video, graphics, usb, IEEE, tv-in, and so on. If you want to upgrade the processor, you might as well just buy another computer.

As for the wireless - I think I mentioned that. Really.. would it have killed them to include a wireless option for peripherals? (keyboard/mouse)

But, also, geeze.. Airport ready. Cool. 15 in Flat panel - who' complaining about this as too small? Isn't the iMac a 15" VGA? 15" flat panel is a huge upgrade.

Pricing, yes, is a bit high.. but it's almost the same price iMac basically came out at. Once they dry up the older iMac inventory, I suspect the prices will drop to the $1000 level. And you get everything a $1800 PC would cost you once adding in the options.

Processor speed - others have already answered this for me, but c'mon.. 800 G4 vs 1.5 P4 or Athlon? Mhtz ain't all the measure, baby. 500 M G3's were beating out 1 G P3's years ago. The Power PC chips are just better, just as Athlons have gotten the jump on Pentiums.

And the footprint is nothing to laugh at. Someone same closest to an appliance yet. Close.. maybe closest to looking and acting like an appliance, but really being a full-fledged compuetr at the same time un the covers.
posted by rich at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2002

badstone: I think the best feature of the iPhoto thing is that "for 30 dollars, Apple will make you a hardcover book of your photos"

Now THAT is cool. I would definitely take full advantage of such a feature for birthdays, holidays, and family get-togethers.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2002

Hmmm, maybe I come at it from a different perspective, but OS X has started to have some appeal to me, as I am slowly moving our servers from NT 4.0 to FreeeBSD, and a TiBook seemed like an appropriate extortion with which to club the beancounters. I know some people are having some issues with the OS, and people I know love the hardware, so I am actually maybe in the market for a Mac when I wasn't earlier.

The main reasons for a decision like this, for me, are based on the internals of the OS and appeal of the notebook hardware design(my Thinkpad 600 is getting pretty long in the tooth, but is still a great design, also). Interface? Feh, just don't crash, and give me my basic tools and access and I'm capable of taking care of business.

The most important reason for my moves though, has actually been Microsoft's insistence on attempting to force me into their upgrade path, regardless of my needs.

OS X on the TiBook looks like an interesting compromise, so from my perspective Apple has been making progress.

Th new iMac holds no appeal to me, but saying "not my demographic" is a huge understatement. I think they'll need to get that price down, and I'm really surprised they didn't have a 17" model(or did I miss that?). The design looks like an Apple I-Opener to me.

On the other hand it was funny to see Theo from Mathematica. My father and Theo wrote one of the more popular Mathematica books. Nice guy.
posted by dglynn at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2002

By the looks of it, the iMac is an amazing conversationalist as well. Look how much fun those guys are having, just hanging out with it.

"Hyuk, hyuk! Oh iMac, you are so funny!"
posted by Dane at 1:37 PM on January 7, 2002

posted by insomnyuk at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2002

in the time span that i have owned my TiBook (about a month or two now) it has not once crashed. the only thing that did bother me was that i did not get the developer's tools cd with the laptop, so i had to bum one off someone else. if you're not a developer, no big deal.

OSX does ask you to register as soon as you begin, though if you are not connected to the internet you can put in dummy information and later remove the shortcuts to register so you won't be bothered with it. otherwise it gets sent right away. i think ie/5.1 for the mac is boffo, too.

geek report:

i have actually written some software for OSX, and i have to say in comparison to windows programming (it is fair of me to compare since i've done software for windows as well) the cocoa framework is much nicer to work with. what took me over a month to feel comfortable with in windows has shrunk to days for OSX. hopefully that will translate into more programs available for OSX in less time, though programming for any GUI can be both a complicated and intertwined mess.
posted by moz at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2002

A G4 iMac based on the Cube at the current prices levels would have been pretty impressive

Consider that the new iMac is smaller than the cube, has the superdrive and includes a 15" lcd flat-panel for the same price as the cube first sold for... (not to mention that the new imac is significantly faster.)
posted by andrewraff at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2002

Will it eventually come out in colors? Translucence?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2002

I recently turned down my employer's offer of a brand new, fully outfitted PC simply because I have nowhere to put it. The case, I figured, could go behind my stereo, or possibly in the closet next to the washing machine; but there's nowhere to rest a keyboard or mouse, much less a chair, near either spot. And the only place the monitor could conceivably go is on top of the refrigerator. But I can see four places this iMac could have gone, had it been offered instead.

posted by Mars Saxman at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2002

Interesting. On the same day Jobs stakes claim to the PC as the "hub for your digital world", Steve Perlman plants his flag by unveiling Moxi, a "couch potato's dream". No doubt the PC will remain the hub for home media creativity, but how much larger is the potential for the living room entertainment center for being the hub for home media consumption. If they can pull this off, Moxi may be the next tech giant, methinks. See also.
posted by Spork65 at 2:53 PM on January 7, 2002

I think the Cube failed because there was no additional utility to having a small CPU (or whatever they call the box now) attached with wires (no, or not enough utility compared to just hiding a conventional CPU box under a desk. The promise here, however, is that with the whole thing on the desk and yet tiny, people will go for it. The utilty is probably 60% flat screen; 40% small footprint (with a 100% cool overlay). Does it allow for other monitors to be used?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:58 PM on January 7, 2002

Paris, it does have an external VGA out port in the back, but it has not been determined yet whether this provides an expanded desktop or merely a mirror of the LCD. Previously, the iMac VGA port was just for video mirroring, a pretty useless capability if you ask me.
posted by machaus at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2002

a) That thing will suck in schools. I'll give the articulating arm 5... er, maybe 3 seconds. If it makes it through a day, I'll buy lunch.

b) I do upgrade my computer :/

c) Am I the only one who gets a headache from LCD screens?

d) I have an old issue of Popular Science with a big story about a 133MHz Compaq with a really small form factor and an integrated LCD.

Moreover, am I the only one who doesn't want computers turning into appliances? I desperately wish my TV were as easy-to-use as my PC is, much less my VCR or (shudder) my stereo system. Just as importantly, I can drastically alter my PC while keeping most of the common components, something that saves me a heck of a lot of money in the long run.

Also, tell me something about the SuperDrive pictured at the bottom of this page: do all of the SuperDrives have that increadibly ugly black face, and the white ones are the CD-RW/DVD drives? Or is that photo a fake?

I really hope this isn't the direction of things to come. The G4 tower is wonderful in just about every respect, and it would be sad to see it usurped by appliances like this.
posted by Ptrin at 3:04 PM on January 7, 2002

Ok, I'm sorry, that was flame bait. Let me try again:

I liked the tower better : (

And what's with the black face on the superdrive?
posted by Ptrin at 3:05 PM on January 7, 2002

hijinx: Oh, boy! Two wires, or four with speakers.

If that's true, I wonder how many AA's it goes through... Nah. It's gotta run on D cells. Hm?
posted by crunchland at 3:19 PM on January 7, 2002

have you watched the video?

it's easy to look at apple's products and call then weird looking or crazy, but it's also easy to forget how well they are produced and how much thought they put into designing them.

not to mention how well they sell it.
posted by o2b at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2002

Ptrin: it's only when the Superdrive opens that you see the black tray. The cover is still white - it pops down when you open it.

Same as the CD/RW and Combo drives.
posted by premiumpolar at 3:46 PM on January 7, 2002

a) That thing will suck in schools. I'll give the articulating arm 5... er, maybe 3 seconds. If it makes it through a day, I'll buy lunch.

Wasn't the same thing said about the original iMac's CD tray? I don't remember it becomeing that big of an issue. Still, a slot loading CD drive would have been sweeter...
posted by Sal Amander at 4:02 PM on January 7, 2002

have you watched the video?

Good video. They do present their products in the most idyllic light possible. Personally I think the product is too good. I think a customer like my mother might be a little intimidated by the new iMac, while the original iMac with it's fruity colours seemed far more fun and certainly less elitist. But if I needed a new home computer I would certainly buy it.
posted by cmacleod at 4:33 PM on January 7, 2002

Ptrin - I agree with your point about upgrading. I love the look of the new iMac, but I'd only buy it if I had the money to burn. It's cheaper for me to upgrade a tower. But then, if this machine is as pervasive as the old iMac model maybe I would buy one.

Another point - did the Cube scare away people like us who like to upgrade our towers?
posted by Modem Ovary at 4:59 PM on January 7, 2002

I watched the video first (at least once they got it working.) The part I found the most amusing (other than the fact that they keep drudging up recording artist Seal to hawk their wares) is that they "animate" the iMac in such a way that it gains a "personality" not unlike the Steve Jobs 'founded-Pixar's Luxo Jr. lamp, to which some people have already noted a physical similarity to the new Mac.
posted by robbie01 at 5:36 PM on January 7, 2002

Ah, yes, I'd forgotten about the fold-down faceplates. Now it makes sense. Thanks.

As for the cube scaring away upgrade enthusiasts:

You actually hit on a term that I hadn't thought of, but seems to apply perfectly: scare. I am scared of a machine that doesn't let me tinker with the insides. My PC, while it crashes all of the time and suffers from a variety of user-induced maladies, reassures me with the (admittedly often theoretical) ability to dive in there and fix things if they go very wrong. I fear my TV and VCR because I really don't know what to do if they break.

As for the Cube, my feeling has always been that it was just too slick for its own good. It was very small, but still required a monitor. It was very fast, but still not as fast as the best towers. It was theoretically upgradeable, but not with standard parts, and very theoretically.

Also, for people like me, paying a premium for a less capable, less expandable machine just because it looks good and takes up less floorspace isn't really an option.

Plus, I'm really a PC guy at heart. I desperately want to switch to Mac, because all of my favorite Adobe apps were really designed for it. But until Apple's third party vendors can offer the hardware and game diversity that exists on the PC side, I'm beat.

(I may be wrong on the hardware diversity, though. I just know that that's always been my impression of things.)
posted by Ptrin at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2002

Previously, the iMac VGA port was just for video mirroring, a pretty useless capability if you ask me.

Previously, the iMac didn't have a VGA port.
posted by kindall at 5:43 PM on January 7, 2002

So I can understand how they could claim that the iPod was only available for the imac... sort of.

But I don't see why they couldn't port that iPhoto software, or at least a photoshop plug in, to the PC, so we can all publish our own photo books. (Is there any word how much those photo books are gonna end up costing?)
posted by crunchland at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2002

Previously, the iMac didn't have a VGA port.

Jerry, not true...

Standard VGA output port (15-pin mini D-Sub connector) Support for video mirroring: external devices display an image identical to that shown on the built-in display.
posted by machaus at 6:05 PM on January 7, 2002

Photo books: $29.99 for the first 10 pages, $3 for each page after that.
posted by riffola at 6:06 PM on January 7, 2002

Huh. They must have added that later, then. The tangerine one I just gave my mom sure doesn't have a VGA out. (And, interestingly, the picture of the iMac's ports doesn't show it either.) I suppose it's for school use, where the teacher's iMac might be hooked up to an overhead projector.
posted by kindall at 6:12 PM on January 7, 2002

I can never afford new macs, but OS X.1 has been calling to me for some time, so I'll probably wait until the cube hits about $750 on ebay, buy a $250 sony lcd and throw a colander over the cube for the popular dome look.
posted by mecran01 at 6:15 PM on January 7, 2002

robbie01: That may be because Apple recruited Pixar director John Lasseter to animate the commercial for this new iMac. The similarity is intentional, I assure you.
posted by crawl at 6:50 PM on January 7, 2002

As a apple user, I went to the apple store near me to watch it as the were airing the keynote address. (I had to go pickup my powerbook anyway that I put in for diganostics...)...

the store was packed, the joit was hoping and every one in there was AWED, I mean flat out awed, We were looking at each other in amazement.

iPhoto was getting cheers. (I downlaoded mine and have bene playing with it) then the imac came on and the place roared. we clapped like maniacs. well we are maniacs.

No there were no new professional models for the likes of me, but rumours say Seybold or the next MacWorld, (NY, Tokyo? I forget) and some MAJOR upgrades in speed.

As a mac user, I didn't feel it was a hype -out. I think it hit it about on the head. Everyone I saw about wet themselves.
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 11:06 PM on January 7, 2002

The whole selling point of iMac's (and now iPhoto) is that people who 'dont like' or 'cant use' PC's will buy them. Both for looks and for ease of use.

Put simply, my mum would love one, but I'd stick to a high end G4 / PC with a decent CRT.

In this respect / market, I think they will both be a resounding success.
posted by MintSauce at 2:15 AM on January 8, 2002

I think Jobs' idea of using PCs as "digital hubs" for seamlessly integrating all of the electronic ephemera of our age (digital cameras and camcorders, PDAs, MP3 players, etc.) is brilliant, and directly on-target for where PCs should be heading for the average consumer. Simplicity sells! (And it's also why I'm virtually certain that Apple will be coming out with its own PDA, possibly jointly with Palm, probably within the year.)

To me, that's what all the hype has been about; the new iMac is just the latest hardware for bringing that vision to life. Bravo, I say! (Although I'll hold off taking the Apple plunge until I can get an iBook or TiBook with a SuperDrive -- DVD-RW + CD-RW.)

I concur that iPhoto is probably the most significant of the announcements made at yesterday's Macworld. The best part of iPhoto being, of course, that it's free, and ready to use on OS X -- if you have a recent OS X-capable Mac, you don't need a new machine, you just have to download it.

Here are a couple of digital photography sites' takes on iPhoto: this is a brief but nicely done preview of it, accompanied by links to the movie and the (free!) download itself from Apple; and this is an initial test of it, with a lot of different screen captures and commentary.
posted by verdezza at 5:38 AM on January 8, 2002

the store was packed, the joit was hoping and every one in there was AWED, I mean flat out awed, We were looking at each other in amazement.

Does that description remind you of anything?
posted by crunchland at 5:43 AM on January 8, 2002

Damn thee, dead link! Let's try this again... here's the more detailed initial test of iPhoto with screen captures and commentary aplenty.
posted by verdezza at 5:44 AM on January 8, 2002

crunchland: If that's true, I wonder how many AA's it goes through... Nah. It's gotta run on D cells. Hm?

It runs on special Jobs-brand environmentally-safe D cells.

Ptrin: Also, for people like me, paying a premium for a less capable, less expandable machine just because it looks good and takes up less floorspace isn't really an option.

The Cube, which is the computer I switched to after having a hulking, 3' tall PC tower for years, has carried around the myth that it is not expandable. Well, okay, I won't be able to put a SuperDrive in it at any point, and there aren't CPU upgrades (right now, anyway.) But. I can use off-the-shelf memory and off-the-shelf IDE hard drives to upgrade it. When I got my machine, I got 0.5GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive, installed them myself with no probs. I don't feel like I've sacrificed upgradablility for design.

But, the Cube was sold to pros - not consumers. Pros often need that expandability. Apple was betting on many pros not needing it. I'm one that doesn't, and there are many like me who didn't. I love the Cube, but the new iMac is clearly Cube-derivative.

iPhoto, by the way, is a fantastic piece of software. I'm bringing my current archives over as we speak, and it's super slick. The slideshow feature is absolutely killer for families.
posted by hijinx at 6:25 AM on January 8, 2002

The other thread links to a zdnet article by David Coursey who says

APPLE ALSO MISSES the point by not allowing users to have two drives. I find it very convenient to be able to copy files from one CD to another without having to copy them to the hard drive first. Apple's unwillingness to support this is a major shortcoming.

What do you think about this?

I tend to agree, with some reservations. I know that the answer here is going to be firewire, firewire, firewire (or, I guess, USB), but to me an optical drive should be internal. The larger issue is that this pristine-looking machine is going to be in a tangle of wires (no infrared kb or mouse, as has been mentioned, so that's two, plus power, plus, say ipod, digital camera, optical drive, zip drive, etc. There's just no space for consolidation). Then again, maybe that's why all the jacks are on the backside - to obscure said wires.
posted by Sinner at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2002

starving artist:

I don't know much about macs, so this may sound ignorant, but... how do they blow away top of the line P4s and Athlons in speed? I heard on the radio today that the new P4 is over 2GHz. This new iMac has an 800MHz G4. Seems like a big gap to me.

The Mac OS requires less instructions from the processor, making it faster. Also the velocity engine (Altivec) is a special add-on for the processor which makes it process instructions faster. Add to these the RAM added to the chip (backside cache RAM) is going to also be faster than a level 2 RAM cache found on most pentium class systems. Also, the Mac OS is not bloatware and is more stable. These factors combine to make a faster processor. You can talk about megahertz this and gigahertz that, but I can build up a pentium pro machine (200 Mhz max) that will outfly a Pentium 4 in lots of things. It's all in the configuration.

People, I've been supporting technology since 1996, shortly after high school. IMHO, Macs are just better. They're faster, more stable, and easier to set up and support. There's no registry to deal with or have to tweak, and there are less hardware conflicts since Apple builds their own hardware and holds 3rd party vendors to exacting standards.
posted by schlaager at 9:08 AM on January 8, 2002

They're faster, more stable, and easier to set up and support.

While I won't get into the thorny, intractable speed issue, I completely disagree in terms of stability and support. Setup is a judgment call.

Then again, I'm PC-centric. To me the whole debate is like automatic v. standard transmissions. Generally the one you'll find better/easiest will be the one upon which you either learned or spent the most time.
posted by Sinner at 9:59 AM on January 8, 2002

Anyone care to read my analysis of the situation?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:15 AM on January 8, 2002

Schlaager, I've been supporting technology since 1976, just after I got out of college (and before you were born), and I'm afraid you've been drinking the kool-aid.

Altivec is a form of SIMD. The equivalent capability in the x86 is SSE. (Other versions have been called "3D Now", "MMX" and "SSE2".) SIMD means "Single Instruction, Multiple Data" and it's a way of doing certain kind of repetitive calculations more rapidly when the same sequence of operations need to be done independently on a whole series of different data values. The best applications for SIMD are in processing graphics (such as, for instance, doing a gamma correction on an image) because the same operation has to be done repetitively on each pixel. With SIMD, each iteration through the loop can process 2, or 4, or 8 pixels worth of data instead of only one. Another area where SIMD is useful is in sound processing; it tends to radically speed up MP3 encoding, for instance. It's also good for video codecs.

SIMD was originally developed in DSPs, and they're still better at it than any standard CPU. But all major CPUs have had some form of SIMD for the last 5 years. This is not unique to the PPC.

But the applications for SIMD (including Altivec) are distinctly limited. For most computing it is not useful. It is not a magic wand which makes everything run faster, and in fact most programs don't use it at all, or only use it briefly, with little effect on overal performance.

And it's also used very heavily now in the x86 world. The last time that Jobs did a speed benchmark what he used was certain filters in Photoshop 6.0. It turns out that the particular version of PhotoShop 6 that he used had a bug in the x86 release which made it run about three times slower than it had in 5.5, and when they did the link properly and took out the debugging flags, and released 6.1, the PC version sped up radically. And now Adobe has released a version of PhotoShop which is optimized for SSE2, just as it was for Altivec, and now the P4 will leave the Mac in the dust even on those carefully selected filters. And that was all Jobs could find even last year where the Mac performed faster; now there's nothing at all. Note that Jobs did not do a "We're faster" benchmark yesterday; it's because even he can't cook it anymore.

MHz-myth not withstanding, you cannot give away 150% in clock speed and 300% in memory speed and still be faster.

Also note: external L3 cache is slower than internal L2 cache. It runs at a slower clock rate and it has a longer latency and a more narrow memory path. Also, placing an additional cache stage between the processor and main memory slows down access to main memory by adding latency. The PC world doesn't use L3 caches because they're not needed with the faster memory that x86's use. Apple is still stuck with 133 MHz SDRAM (or 100 in yesterday's machine); the fast x86's use 266 MHz DDR or 400 MHz RDRAM which perform nearly as fast as Apple's L3 cache. And 333 MHz DDR is going to be shipping soon, as will 533 MHz RDRAM.

L3 caches are a design trap. All EE's know that they're something you use because you have to, not because you want to. They're something you use when your main memory is too slow. The right solution is to fix your controller chipset to use faster memory, which is what the PC world has done.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2002

Steven: Note that Jobs did not do a "We're faster" benchmark yesterday; it's because even he can't cook it anymore.

Speed aside and in defense of Apple, this is traditionally done with the G4 towers - not with the consumer line of products. The iMac's pages say that they're faster than Pentiums, but (from what I saw) the detail is not there.
posted by hijinx at 11:22 AM on January 8, 2002

But I don't see why they couldn't port that iPhoto software, or at least a photoshop plug in, to the PC, so we can all publish our own photo books.

Funny that the same thread can touch on "Macs don't have enough software", and "I wish Apple would port its software to my computer".

Apple is a hardware company. Hardware pays all the bills. They make software, including an operating system or two, solely as an inducement to purchase hardware. Giving away that carrot would be quite dim. (Porting OS X to Intel would be grounds for a shareholder revolt, for the same reason.)
posted by bumppo at 11:51 AM on January 8, 2002

Porting OS X to Intel would be grounds for a shareholder revolt, for the same reason.

It also isn't that feasable. Who wants to attempt to support all the crappy, no-name hardware and the chaos the Wintel world puts up with and calls "standards"? Although, it would be great to have an alternative to beating my head against Windows at work just trying to accomplish simple tasks...
posted by RevGreg at 4:59 PM on January 8, 2002

Although, it would be great to have an alternative to beating my head against Windows at work just trying to accomplish simple tasks...

Quicktime on my Pc at work helps me keep my sanity.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2002

On the subject of small desktop footprints, my Dell has a desktop footprint of 0 square inches, because I put it on the floor next to my desk. I'm happy with this layout, as it allows me to both have a 19" monitor and plenty of space left over. There is no way to do this with the new iMac, unless you don't mind craning your neck to see the screen.
posted by Hildago at 8:03 PM on January 8, 2002

Hildago: The screen rotates and the height can be adjusted, but you bring up a good point. If I want to adjust the new iMac such that the screen is at the same height as my current CRT monitor, I am going to end up needing some space behind the screen for the base. Now what remains to be seen is, whether the space occupied by the base and the now lowered screen is less than a conventional 17 inch CRT monitor? (Although you still have the advantage of no tower sitting below your desk.)
posted by riffola at 11:10 PM on January 8, 2002

It's a cute machine, and OSX is an OK system (by far the best BSD I knwo of) but the new iMac, liek the old one, is useless for all the PC people I know.

Generally we run 3 hard drives, an internal CD/R and a CD/RW. We still come across floppies on occasiona nd we upgrade our video cards.

And that isn't "power users" - just folks who have had their machine a while.

The iMac is not close to being faster than PC's in the same price range, and the software availability is much less.

So basically... it's cute.
posted by soulhuntre at 5:31 AM on January 10, 2002

What do you think now? I've assimilated the paradine of invisible computer, or floating screen, and like it more and more.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:39 PM on January 10, 2002

d'oh! Paradigm!
posted by ParisParamus at 12:43 PM on January 10, 2002

Next Question: If the computer is reduced to a flat screen; a 2-D rectangle, plus a globe hiding behind it, doesn't subsequent computer design become reduced, or eliminated
in importance? And won't that reduce or eliminate Apple's chic?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:06 PM on January 10, 2002

No, because then Apple will make it hidden and see-through.

Ooh, ahh.
posted by NortonDC at 7:18 AM on January 11, 2002

iMac dance. (Good Heavens!)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2002

Oh my. I've been overstimulated.
posted by Dane at 11:44 AM on January 11, 2002

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