It seems everywhere you look, Intel and Microsoft are in your face. Pentium this, Windows that. The lesser observant or PC-conversant could be forgiven for thinking the processor/operating system combo was the be-all and end-all of PC systems. I beg to differ. Anyone (well, apart from the odd Gatesophile) who has used an Apple Macintosh together with its home-grown OS, cunningly entitled MacOS, knows the ‘Wintel’ combo is by some distance the inferior product. With its legendary ease of use, power, charming personality, growing plethora of quality software and new-found stability the Mac’s system laughs in the face of its Microsoft adversary. As for Intel’s claims of blistering processor speeds, tests show Apple’s G3 chips are more or less double the speed of Pentiums, Hz for Hz, and with 400MHz G3 chips installed in their top of the line boxes you can understand why Mac users are so pro-Mac.
However, as with the VHS-Betamax war, it seems the better system is not necessarily the victor; it all comes down to marketing, a skill which, historically, Apple has failed to master while Intel and Microsoft ran off with the money.
But Apple are fighting back with their revolutionary G3-powered iMac (unless you’ve been locked in a cupboard for the last year you can hardly have failed to notice the little translucent blue bubble), a computer which harks back to Apple’s first Mac designs with its modern and compact all-in-one design (and now available in five new candy colours!). The Jonathon Ive design is the ultimate as an all-inclusive internet-ready plug-and-play computer for home or funky office and is truly a ‘next-generation’ system. With the runaway success of the cool little computer, which sold out before it was even out, Apple ported the styling to their top of the range G3 systems and monitors. Both the iMacs and G3’s will fit in to the sparkliest of business or home environments.
Which is its only obvious weak point. It won’t fit in, cosmetically, anywhere else. While a pair of Bondi Blue iMacs sit comfortably in Ant and Dec’s studio on Saturday mornings and the organically svelte Studio Display plasma screen monitor looks as if it were designed for the set of that weekend soccer TV magazine, whatever it’s called, the new style Macs will just look out of place in an office full of beige peripherals. But not in a flower in the weeds sort of way – more like a blue Lamborghini Diablo rear spoiler on a biege Rover Metro sort of way. Which is a shame, as the office is where Apple is targeting a healthy amount of their new products. Trust Apple to get carried away. (Translucent black as an option to the ‘Blueberry’ panels would be nice. Apple: take notice – dig some of the old eMate plastic out – make a killing. Wintel.) CHRIS NOBLE