Apple desktop range

The basic 350MHz model now sells for an aggressive $1595. The iMac DV models (at $1995, the old entry level) strangely don't include a DVD drive, which the old iMac DV did (DVD should surely be standard on all desktop computers by now). They are, however, faster (400MHz G3 processors) and include FireWire ports and big hard drives for video editing.

The iMac DV+ ($2495) and iMac DV Special Edition ($2995) include DVD-ROM drives, and are otherwise the same as iMac DV, with faster processors and bigger hard drives justifying the added cost. Interestingly, the Special Edition in Snow brings the iMac full circle to a machine that isn't particularly translucent or colourful.

The three models of G4 have each received a speed boost, and the prices are the same ($3195, $4995 and $6995, for 400MHz, 450MHz and 500MHz machines respectively), except that the two top machines now feature dual G4 processors.

Thinking inside the square

The new machine causing the most hubbub is the G4 Cube, a 450MHz G4 housed in a silvery cube and mounted in a transparent perspex casing. The machine runs silently, thanks to clever design obviating the need for a fan. It includes FireWire, USB, 10/100Mbit Ethernet, display and modem connectors on the bottom of the unit, accessible through a space in the enclosure.

It's frankly a beautiful machine to look at. Professionals will avoid it because of its lack of PCI expansion slots, and I'm also a little concerned that the DVD slot, on top of the machine, may become a dust trap. But these are minor quibbles. At $3495, it looks like a winner.

Complementing the G4 line is a new range of monitors: a 17in CRT for $995, a 15in flat panel for $1995, and the Cinema Display, a huge (22in) flat panel for $7995. The flat panel displays are especially appealing, mounted in clear perspex much like the G4 Cube. If money is no object, the Cinema Display is something you won't mind staring at for hours on end as the picture is crystal clear.

For most of us, though, he price is a bit rich, and I hope Apple will introduce something between the slightly too-small 15in and the way-too-pricey 22in displays.

Somewhat disappointingly, the monitors utilise a new type of connector developed by Apple called the Apple Display Connector (ADC). Incorporating power, USB and video cables into one handy plug, ADC makes life easier for owners of the new range of Macs.

Aesthetically, it re-duces the amount of clutter behind the desk to almost nothing. On the downside, it precludes owners of non-ADC computers (including Macs bought a few months ago) from connecting to the new, flashy displays.

All of these computers come with a newly designed translucent keyboard (full size at last!) and a snazzy mouse that, unlike the hockey puck of old, actually fits into a human hand. The mouse is an optical unit, and ostensibly has no button. It should, therefore, be easy to keep clean.

Apple wants people to feel not merely comfortable with, but also proud of, the Mac on their desk. This range provides a nice set of trophies.

New Apple range

Price: iMac $1595 to $2995; G4 $3195 to $6995; G4 Cube $3495; displays $995 to $7995Supplier: Apple ComputerPhone: 13 3622URL: www.apple.com.au

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