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Busman's Holiday
Five Flavored Mac Envy
by Steve Wood
January 12, 1999

 

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The day I bought my G3 Minitower I knew there would come a day when I again experienced Mac envy. Macworld Expo almost did it! The new Macintosh lineup is attractive and apparently well-engineered. With the iMac covering the entry level market, the new Yosemite tower line is surprisingly competitively priced for the performance the machines offer. Both lines have the eye candy to attract first-time buyers, and Apple appears to have again produced a class of very useable machines.

In case you've been away and incommunicado, Apple introduced its new line of computers last week at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. With the introduction of the five flavored new iMacs, Apple has released its retailers from its Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) of $1299 and prices have quickly dropped to around the anticipated $999 for revision B iMacs still in stock. The new lineup of iMacs, coming in Strawberry, Lime, Blueberry, Tangerine and Grape, has a 266 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, a 6GB hard drive, and is initially priced at $1,199.

Yosemite TowerThe new desktop minitower lineup includes the latest copper-based PowerPC processors running from 300-400 MHz with a 100 MHz system bus and 512K to 1 MB backside caches. The new ATI RAGE 128 graphics chip, FireWire, USB, and 10/100BASE-T Ethernet are all included.

What's missing from all of this is the floppy drive and SCSI support. Apple offers a SCSI card through its Build To Order section of the Apple Store, and options for external drives that support the 1.4 MB floppy will become cheaper.

Possibly some of the best news of the new introductions is that some of the new models are already reaching consumers according to a Saturday Macintouch posting. Lack of the right product and the right time has plagued Apple and limited profits in the past.

G3 266 MinitowerAs I looked at the blue and white Yosemite line, I wondered if I'd have been happier if I'd waited and came to a surprisingly quick conclusion to the negative. Apple's added a lot to the new Macs (and taken away little), but not enough for me to forsake my still "new" G3. I suspect that with the introduction of the AltiVec enhanced chip, I'll begin showing occasional tinges of green. Since I'll probably still be making payments on my G3, a lack of the other "green" will probably restrain my Mac-envy even then. If I didn't already have a G3, I think I'd be considering a visit to my nearest Apple dealer or the Apple Store.

One of the more pleasant problems Apple has faced over the years has been the success and reliability of many of its lines of computers. My classroom could often pass for a Macintosh museum, except for the fact that the older Macs there are in use and not just for diaplay.

Mac IIfxOur classroom "stable" grew over the holidays with the addition of a PowerMac 7500 (with a MAXpowr G3/250 upgrade), a Mac IIfx, and a Mac IIsi. Added to the existing PowerMac 7200, the LC III, and the various SE models in use, visitors often remark about how well equipped we are! (Do remember that when I'm not driving my 165,000 mile Tauras, I'm probably nursing my 300,000 mile F-150 somewhere. I do expect a long lifetime from products.)

Folks who have an older Mac in good working order may be hesitant to step up to new models simply because the older one is preforming well enough. Pricing of new models has always been a big hurdle, but Apple starts the new line at $1,599 for the 300 MHz model. The newly styled 17" monitor is also reasonably priced at $499. Ten months ago, I paid nearly $3,000 for my 266 MHz G3 with a 17" monitor. With last week's introductions, a comparable new, but higher performance model would total $2,098! For comparison, I configured both a 400 MHz and a 450 MHz Pentium II Dell Dimension as closely as possible to the above package and came up with a price range of $1600-$1918, including a 17" monitor. For those of us sold on Macs, it's no contest. Apple is truely making Macs more affordable. But for first time buyers or current Windows users, there's still a significant price gap. Only time will tell if buyers outside the normal Macintosh realm will see enough value in the new lineup to buy up to a Macintosh.

Comparing the iMac to entry level Windows machines is an exercise in futility. The price difference is dramatic when the iMac is compared to bare bones Windows boxes, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs told Mac users at the Cause98 conference that Apple wasn't attempting to compete with those machines. In the class that the iMac is targeted for, name brand clones such as Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, Apple is successfully closing in on the $100 "price delta" Jobs targeted.

What was missing from Apple's Macworld Expo hardware introductions was the P1 Portable that may address the very bottom end of the consumer market and the education market. Also, no new models specific to the education market and pricelist were introduced as well. Both areas will probably be addressed in future Apple announcements before spring.


Out my back doorSteve's Total Waste of Bandwidth:
Planning on an expedition to Antarctica or the snowy north? Come join us as we venture...across our back yard! This is a shot from my back porch Saturday afternoon. I'd hoped for something really artsy in this shot, but ended up with this. I suspect many of you are seeing similar landscapes. After watching a young man roll his vehicle 1.5 times on U.S. 41 yesterday, when he really wasn't doing anything silly, let me say, stay safe and warm through this weather. (The young man was wearing his shoulder harness and was unharmed.) It's a great time to just sit at your Mac or snuggle up to your sweetie!

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©1999 Steven L. Wood

reposted to the new MATH DITTOS 2 site 6/5/2000