Embattled Mac clone maker Psystar launches new model

It continues to thumb legal nose at Apple over Mac OS X copyright issues

Psystar Corp., the Florida company fighting with Apple Inc. in federal court over its practice of selling computers that run Mac OS X, debuted a new, slimmer clone Wednesday.

Dubbed the "Open(3)" by Psystar, the system replaces the entry-level Open Computer by substituting a smaller, slimmer mini-tower case for the larger, full-sized tower of the latter.

With prices starting at US$600 -- a jump from the older Open Computer's $555 -- the Open(3) sports an Intel 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce 8400GS graphics card with 256MB of RAM in its standard configuration.

FireWire, Bluetooth and wireless hardware cost extra, however, as does a keyboard, mouse and monitor, none of which is bundled with the box. Adding all of those components, except for a monitor, brings the Open(3)'s total to US$847.

Apple's least-expensive desktop Mac is the Mac mini, which starts at $599 and also comes sans keyboard, mouse and monitor. The company's lowest-priced full-featured desktop is the $1,199 iMac that features an Intel 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and a 20-in. display.

"We are making the Open Computer a better fit for our users' environments in more ways than one," Psystar's president, Rudy Pedraza, said in a statement Wednesday. "The smaller size will definitely make it easier to place in a home or small office but, at the same time, the increased performance will allow it to easily take the place of traditionally-sized [sic] machines."

Psystar, which started selling Intel-based computers with Mac OS X pre-installed last April, is best known as the target of an Apple lawsuit, filed in July 2008, that accused the company of copyright and software licensing violations.

A month later, Psystar struck back with a countersuit of its own, which U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup tossed out in November 2008.

Psystar, however, has refused to give up its legal battle with Apple, and in February 2009 won a round as Alsup ruled it could amend its countersuit to charge Apple with abusing copyright laws by tying Mac OS X to its own hardware.

Psystar sells its systems only through its online store.

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Gregg Keizer

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