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MacWorld New York 2000 Keynote: The point of diminutive returns

By MacEdition Staff, 20 July

No one can ever claim Steve Jobs puts on a bad show. He may not say what you want to hear. He may not be able to completely overwhelm you with RDF. He may even give you one more silly demo of Aqua’s genie effect. But a bad show? No, not really.

Yesterday was no exception. Over the course of two hours, Steve spieled and spilled, dashed and danced, excited and entranced. From new iMacs to a new, plastic package for Microsoft Office, from multiprocessor G4 boxen to a super-computing stepstool, Apple – in the persona of Steve Jobs – went about re-marketing itself.

The Tower of Power

In a keynote that generated much sizzle, the amount of steak is still being determined. A few nuggets here and there seem to indicate that the multi-processor G4 machines should be granted the appellation “beefy”. What other company would have the cajones to make dual processors a standard configuration? (Well, maybe Dell, Gateway, or Compaq, but some could argue that these aren’t standard configurations.)

Don’t want all that processing power? Well, there is still the 400Mhz G4 tower. Whether this qualifies as a good thing or not (or if it will even remain a product) remains to be seen.

What about MacOS 9? Will it be able to actually use this dual-processing muscle? Well, granted, these machines are basically being seeded for real use when MacOS X finally shows up, but there are applications that can take advantage of the extra chip right now. Photoshop (as proven through Yet Another Bake-Off) can support them. Other applications may as well. Since you don’t have much of a choice anymore, it’s really not too much of a concern.

There is a definite positive to this announcement, though: the price remains the same.

Half-pint: low-fat or heavy cream?

Not to be outdone by the sheer brawn being added to the PowerMac G4 line, the runway reporters were agog at the new summer colors being introduced for iMac: Indigo (a new blue), Ruby (a new red), Sage (a new green – was Lime really that popular?), an enhanced Graphite (the old grey), and Snow (a new color for iMacs: white).

Add to the new colors a new model scheme: iMac, iMac DV, iMac DV+, and iMac DV Special Edition. What do you want? Apple’s got it in the new, more complicated product lineup. From bare-bones internet connectivity (at $799) to a video-editing station that looks like Elsie the Cow took a little too much liking to it (at $1499), there’s a G3-based iMac to suit your needs, assuming the iMac is your thing.

A note: so much for every machine Apple makes being AirPort compatible. If you’re wanting the ethereal goodness of the 150 feet of invisible fencing, you’ve got to go at least to the iMac DV. Basic connectivity, it seems, doesn’t entitle one to join the wireless party.

It’s good to see the entry level price coming down, but too bad about the AirPort, huh? And if you want to watch DVD (say, you’d think this would be part of DV, no?), skip on up the line (and the wallet) to the DV+ model. The iMac and iMac DV have CD-ROMs only.

Apple’s slipping us a mickey

Take your hands off that keyboard and slap those RSI braces together! Make some noise, people! Apple, at long last, is making a new keyboard and mouse available. No, this isn’t some “modeling-clay-looking-right-handed-only-what-were-they-thinking?” kinda mouse. It’s something else. You could say there is no button. Or ... you could say there is no mouse. Or, if you’re into sports, the button is in a perfect state of being the mouse. That’s right, the entire top of the mouse is the button.

And that’s ok, because the bottom of the mouse is optical. That’s right, Apple’s mice now have no balls. (Insert stupid joke here. Oh, wait. It’s already been done for you.)

Will this be any better than the hockey puck and the missing-just-the-key-you-need-board? Let’s hope so. New Mac purchasers get to find out right away, since this Dynamic Duo is standard across the entire Macintosh line.

The rest of us have to wait a few weeks (assuming you order before midnight). At $59 each (unless you actually attended the main keynote session and got one mouse free), like the doctor says, this may sting, but only for a minute.

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