The Latest In Desk Lamp Chic (1/7/02)

Say, what about that new iMac? We've all been waiting for over three years for Apple to redesign the thing from scratch, and now we've finally seen the result. For a moment, try to ignore the hype that Apple heaped on it all last week (we know, it's hard) and consider it entirely upon its own merits. So what do you think-- was it worth the wait? Certainly the specs are impressive-- all the models are LCD-based, all of them boast G4s at 700 or 800 MHz, and they all pack a pretty respectable 32 MB nVIDIA GeForce2 MX graphics subsystem. And $1799 now gets you a complete Mac system, complete with an LCD display, capable of creating and burning DVDs. This is clearly all good stuff.

But the design... well, let's just say that we won't be surprised if we hear some people yearning for a return to the classic Space Egg chassis. Coming up with a desktop all-in-one design based around a flat panel obviously presented some challenges, and Uncle Steve made some good points during his speech about how orienting everything in the vertical plane of the screen would have necessitated slowing down the optical drive's rotational speed, etc. And the new design seems nicely functional, what with the free-floating display, despite Apple's decision to move all the ports back to the rear of the system-- and the power button, too. (On a related note, maybe it's just us, but after Steve's whole spiel about how consumer computers should always be all-in-one designs for simplicity's sake, we can't help but notice that those Pro Speakers are looking mighty external to us.)

The thing is, this design (which we've already taken to calling "Lump-Stick-Rectangle" just somehow doesn't seem as provocative as the original Space Egg. It's not as archetypal; it doesn't strike as resonant a chord. In short, it's kind of... well, blah might be the right word for it. In the intro video, the new iMac bobs and weaves, the screen goes bouncing every which way to the beat of the music; it seems alive (and, as dozens of faithful viewers have pointed out, not unlike Luxo, the Pixar mascot swing-arm lamp). That's all well and good, and the iMac looks pretty neat in that scenario. But in reality, it's just going to be sitting on a desk like a lump. And a stick, and a rectangle. People will occasionally-- maybe even frequently-- adjust its screen position, but that's a far cry from owning a computer that's going to get down and funky every time you crank up some Kool & The Gang.

So that's our main concern; not that the highish $1299 entry-level price point may scotch some sales in this economy, not that the $1299 model won't even ship until March, thus locking a lot of potential buyers out of spending their money-- but that the new design won't capture the imagination of the public like the original iMac's simple and stylized shape did. Think of it this way; do you think the new iMac is going to start showing up in comic strips anytime soon? (Well, other than Rockwood, we mean-- the guy who draws that is nuts to start with.)

SceneLink (3489)
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The above scene was taken from the 1/7/02 episode:

January 7, 2002: "Way beyond the rumors sites"? Uh, which rumors sites might those be, Steve? Meanwhile, the new iMac's design may lack a certain oomph, and Time Magazine is probably short a few dozen executives following that publication's premature release of iMac specs and images last night...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3488: Lotsa Sizzle, Not Much Steak (1/7/02)   Where's the beef? Steve may be vegan (heck, so are we), but that's hardly an excuse; we bet there are a heckuva lotta Mac fanatics pulling a Clara Peller right about now. Is it just us, or did that Stevenote seem... well, a little light on surprises, relatively speaking?...

  • 3490: Just Imagine The Carnage (1/7/02)   A moment of silence, ladies and gentlemen, for whichever poor souls at Time Magazine lost their lives last night when Steve Jobs undoubtedly burst into their domiciles, ripped their hearts from their chests, and wolfed them down while they were still beating...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

Vote Early, Vote Often!
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Nostalgia is the next best thing to feeling alive
My name is Rip Van Winkle and I just woke up; what did I miss?
I'm trying to pretend the last 20 years never happened
I mean, if it worked for Friends, why not?
I came here looking for a receptacle in which to place the cremated remains of my deceased Java applets (think about it)

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