Apple's new G4 Cube PC wins round of applause from Macworld faithful


Thursday, July 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


NEW YORK – Apple, the computer world's self-appointed arbiter of style, has decided that it's hip to be square.

At the opening of Macworld Expo Wednesday, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled a snappy addition to his company's innovative desktop product line – a 450-megahertz PowerPC crammed into an 8-inch white cube and suspended in clear Lucite.

Gasps of delight spread across Mac faithful crammed into Jacob K. Javits Center as Mr. Jobs demonstrated how the unusual G4 Cube accepts DVD and CD-ROM disks into a toaster-like, top-loading drive. When configured with one of Apple's new 15-inch flat display panels and a set of spherical, clear speakers, the new computer looks unlike anything ever constructed for the desktop.

"This is a stunning product – quite possibly the most stunning product we've ever designed," a beaming Mr. Jobs said.

Mr. Jobs also used the occasion to unveil new colors and upgrades for its trend-setting iMac line, a new full-sized keyboard and advanced optical mouse available for the entire product line, and dual-processor Power Mac G4 machines that perform some tasks at a speed equivalent to the still-experimental 2-gigahertz Pentium III chips.

The 450-MHz Power Mac G4 Cube will be priced at $1,799 without a display when it goes on sale in early August through the online Apple Store (www.apple.com). A 500-MHz Cube will sell for $2,299.

The base configuration includes 64 megabyte of memory expandable to 1.5 gigabyte; 20 gigabytes of storage (configurable up to 40 gigabytes); the slot-loading DVD drive; two FireWire and two USB ports; 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and a 56K V.90 modem.

"It's like getting a Mercedes of computers for the price of a Taurus," Mr. Jobs said.

The fan-less G4 Cube is designed to be a quiet desktop companion that retains some of the most popular features of the much larger and more expensive Power Mac G4's, including easy access to interior parts. The G4 Cube features a hidden Lucite handle that elevates on touch to allow users to pull the computer innards right out of the top.

'Sleepy Hollow Mac'

Mr. Jobs' demonstration of the extraction evoked images of the radioactive core being extracted from a nuclear reactor.

Mac rumor sites on the Internet have been filled for months with speculation about a new addition to the Apple line. Some insiders had called it a "Sleepy Hollow Mac" because it has been cloaked in mystery and evidently lacked a monitor or "head."

In other announcements, Mr. Jobs addressed rampant criticism over the flimsiness of the current Apple mouse and cramped design of available keyboards.

The new, elliptical Apple Pro Mouse handed out to those in the main Macworld hall, operates using optics rather than a rolling rubber ball on a mouse pad. Microsoft rolled out a similar product earlier this year. Unlike the Microsoft optical mouse, the Apple version has no buttons. Pressure downward initiates button functions instead.

Apple is the first company to provide an optical mouse standard with all of its desktop systems.

The similarly sleek Apple Pro Keyboard is also a departure, offering navigation, volume control, disc eject keys and two USB ports.

Mr. Jobs went to great lengths to extol the virtues of an entirely new iMac line that features PowerPC G3 processors running up to 500 MHz and hard disk storage up to 30 GB.

The lowest price iMac – a translucent, indigo model equipped with a 350 MHz model for $799 – will not be available until late August.

Immediately available for sale are the iMac DV ($999) with FireWire and iMovie 2; the iMac DV+ ($1,299) with more speed and storage, and a DVD drive; and the iMac DV Special Edition ($1,499), featuring a 500 MHz PowerPC processor, massive 30GB hard disk drive and 128MB of DRAM.

New colors

Mr. Jobs and Apple plan to have fun marketing the new iMac colors – indigo, ruby, sage and snow.

Convention goers were given previews of television commercials that will feature, for example, Elvis singing, Blue Suede Shoes as the camera hops around the new indigo model, and Cream crashing through White Room as the bright, white translucence of the snow model iMac DV Special Edition spins into view.

Apple's Power Mac G4 line features two models that are the first mainstream personal computers to come standard with dual processors.

The 450 MHz and 500 MHz Power Mac G4s each contain dual PowerPC G4 processors with Velocity Engine, delivering up to 7 billion calculations per second.

When running applications like Adobe Photoshop, the dual processor 500 MHz Power Mac G4 is as fast as a 2 GHz Pentium III, which is expected to be released in 2001.

"We've been working on this a long time," Mr. Jobs said in summation.

"We're very proud of what we've done. It is a privilege to be on the same team as the people of Apple. They put love into these products.

"I hope you can feel that today."