So now that the Power Mac G5 is officially shipping (mostly), new information about the production models is starting to pop up here and there. Mostly there. "There," you may have guessed, is Apple's own happy little farm of web servers-- and more specifically, the support servers, which now hold all sorts of just-updated fun stuff about Apple's latest pro desktops. So if you were wondering just what the deal is with the G5's new optical digital audio ports, now you can read all about 'em. Wondering what happens if you yank out that nifty clear airflow baffle and try to run your G5 anyway? Turns out it'll automatically run at a "reduced speed" to prevent the unit from bursting into flames. And then, of course, there's the burning question that's kept Mac fans awake at night ever since the G5 was first unveiled in June: where's the serial number? (Wouldja believe you have to pop the cover to see it? Thank heavens for Apple System Profiler.)
But here's the info we found most interesting of all: apparently in order to use AirPort with one of these monsters, you actually need to connect an external antenna. Same goes for Bluetooth. Gone are the days of antennas for wireless networking being seamlessly integrated into the Mac's chassis; we can only surmise that the G5's aluminum enclosure acts as shielding and makes internal antennas impractical because they'd have a range of about three feet. (Many titanium and aluminum PowerBook owners know all too well what we're talking about, here.)
So, unfortunately, Apple had to run with external AirPort and Bluetooth antennas that plug into special ports on the rear of the machine, which is a decidedly unMaclike sort of thing for the customer to need to worry about. Okay, fine, plugging in an antenna or two isn't exactly rocket science, but once you do, you've got a thing or two hanging out of the back of your otherwise sleek and nifty G5: the Bluetooth antenna is just a little nubby-lookin' thing, which might be all right, but the AirPort one is a big T-shaped wedge, and it's going to look about as elegant as all those 802.11 PC cards with the built-in antennas you see jutting out of Wintel laptops all the time. Geez. We haven't seen one up close and personal yet, but we get the uneasy feeling that sticking an AirPort antenna onto the back of a G5 is the style equivalent of wearing a $10,000 exquisitely tailored Armani suit and then accessorizing with one of those giant foam cowboy hats and stuffing your pockets full of as many bricks as you can jam in there and doing the chicken dance in traffic.
Okay, we're not sure what that means, either. But it's a hell of a mental picture.
So, possibly ugly and obtrusive plug-in antennas. Still, that's the price we pay for progress, we suppose. And on the bright side, geeky Wintel IT people will probably eat this kind of thing right up (the more complex, unintegrated, and kludgy-looking the better), thus removing one more barrier from the Mac's invasion of enterprise computing. And look at it this way: an external antenna is probably still going to look nicer than another freakin' cable snaking out of the rear of your nice new G5...