Apple gets it right with new iMac, MacOS 9

With success after success, it's hard to deny that Apple Computer has been on the comeback trail as of late. But no product demonstrates this more clearly than the second iteration of the iMac, which was announced today at Apple headquarters in Cupertino. While the original vision of the iMac has sold relatively well, it was a technical tradeoff in every way, shape and form. The next generation iMac, however, represents the computer that Apple should have shipped a year ago, but no matter: It's here now, and it's a winner.

Unlike the one-size-fits all iMac from last year, the new version comes in three editions: standard, Digital Video, and Special Edition. The standard iMac apes the bondi blue design from a year ago, but sports a 350 MHz PowerPC G3 processor running on a 100 MHz bus (up from 66 MHz), 64 MB of RAM (up from 32 MB), an ATI Rage 128 2D/3D video card, a 6 GB hard drive, a slot-loaded CD-ROM drive (without that el-cheapo laptop tray in the old model), built-in Harmon Kardon speakers (replacing the tinny Bose in the previous model) with an optional see-through sub-woofer and a low-ball price of only $999. The Digital Video (DV) iMacs come in five colorful "flavors," and add two 400 Mbps FireWire (IEEE-1394) ports, AirPort wireless network connectivity, DVD drive, a 10 GB hard drive, and a 400 MHz processor. This edition will run about $1300. At the high end is the graphite gray Special Edition model, which sports 128 MB of RAM and a 13 GB hard drive for only $1500.

All of the iMacs feature two independent USB ports, meaning that they do not share the limited bandwidth of a single internal bus. And because the iMacs are based on the G3 processor, not the woefully behind schedule G4, they're shipping now.

I've come down hard on Apple in the past for their original iMac, which was a major disappointment. While the new iMac doesn't alleviate all of the product's problems--it still retains that stupid hockey puck mouse, for example--it is the product they should have made in the first place. And it's priced right.

Nice job Apple: For more information, please visit the Apple Computer Web site.

Apple also unveiled its next operating system for the Macintosh, MacOS 9, which features a new version of the Sherlock search engine and a host of other Internet-related features

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