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Revamped Cube Adds CD-RW

MW Tokyo - Revamped Cube Adds CD-RW

by , 7:00 AM EST, February 22nd, 2001

In an attempt to salvage the sparkling industrial design of the Cube, Apple has revamped the product and is now targeting it squarely at consumer users. The new Cube features a slot loading CD-RW in the mid-range and high-end models, and ships with iMovie 2 and iTunes preinstalled. The new Cube also now comes standard with 128MB or RAM, instead of the 64MB in the original model, and BTO options include ATI's Radeon card or NVIDIA's GeForce2 MX. According to Apple:

Apple today introduced a new Power Mac G4 Cube with a slot-loading CD-RW drive and iTunes, Apple's amazing new "jukebox" software. The new G4 Cube lets users make digital movies, create and manage their own music library, and burn their own custom audio CDs.

The Power Mac G4 Cube's slot-loading CD-RW drive is located on top for easy access, and a pair of Apple designed Harman Kardon speakers are included for great sound when using Apple's iTunes music "jukebox" software. The Power Mac G4 Cube now comes standard with 128MB RAM, up from 64MB in previous models.

iTunes, which has been downloaded more than 750,000 times since its debut in January, lets users import songs from their favorite CDs into their computer's hard drive; compress the files into the popular MP3 format; organize their music using powerful yet easy to use searching, browsing, and play list features; watch stunning visualizations on their computer screen; and create custom music CDs with the new G4 Cube's CD-RW drive.

The G4 Cube comes preinstalled with Apple's iMovie 2, the latest version of the world's most popular, easy-to-use consumer digital video editing software, and offers two FireWire ports for easy connection to a variety of high-speed peripherals such as digital camcorders and digital cameras. Movies can be saved back to the camcorder, copied to videotape or posted to a user's own website using iTools, Apple's suite of free Internet services. The G4 Cube uses a revolutionary cooling design that does not require a fan, so it runs in virtual silence. The Cube's entire electronics assembly can be easily lifted out of its enclosure within seconds, providing access to every major component and allowing the easy addition of memory or an optional AirPort card. AirPort, Apple's revolutionary wireless networking solution, provides totally untethered Internet access at speeds up to 11 megabits per second. Apple today also announced that its award-winning, 22 inch, flat panel Apple Cinema Display is now immediately available for an amazing $2,999 (US), down from an original price of $3,999 (US). The largest all-digital LCD flat panel display ever brought to market, it offers a pure digital interface, an extra wide viewing angle and support for true 16.7 million saturated colors.

Apple's family of displays are the perfect complement to the new G4 Cube, and also include the 17 inch (16 inch viewable) Apple Studio Display CRT, and the 15 inch Apple Studio Display flat panel. All three Apple displays have a two-port powered USB hub for convenient connection to desktop USB devices; and each utilizes the Apple Display Connector, an innovative new cable and connector that carries analog and digital video signals, USB data and display power over a single cable and connector.

Pricing and Availability
Available now through The Apple Store and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $1,599 (US), the new Power Mac G4 Cube includes a 450 MHz PowerPC G4 processor with Velocity Engine, 128MB of memory, 20GB of storage, a slot-loading CD-RW drive on top for easy access, two FireWire and two USB ports, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and a 56K V.90 modem.

Build-to-order options available on The Apple Store include 500 MHz PowerPC G4 processors, memory up to 1.5GB, NVIDIA GEForce2 MX with 32MB of SDRAM or ATI RADEON with 32MB of DDR RAM, up to 60GB ATA/66 hard disk drive, a slot-loading DVD-ROM drive, AirPort Card and AirPort Base Station, and Harman Kardon SoundSticks speakers and subwoofer.

In addition to Apple's award-winning 22-inch Apple Cinema Display flat panel priced at a suggested retail price of $2,999 (US), Apple's 17 inch (16 inch viewable) Apple Studio Display CRT for a suggested retail price of $499 (US), and the 15 inch Apple Studio Display flat panel for a suggested retail price of $799 (US) are available through The Apple Store and Apple Authorized Resellers.

You can find more information about Apple's Cube at the Apple Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

It seems Apple has decided to target mid-range consumer users for the product this time around. The original Cube suffered from being a great product at too high a cost, and thus it was a product without an interested group. Feature wise, the Cube definitely fits the mid-range and below user, and the price is getting closer to being attainable for those users.

The original Cube, which Apple seems to have a plethora of, is now available as the true "low-end" option for US$1299. Granted that does not include a CD-RW drive, but does allow the product to be offered a very reasonable entry level price.

Also, while there is still no 17"-18" flat panel display, the US$1000 price drop on the stunning 22" Cinema display is very welcome. While a $3000 price tag does not necessarily make the product any more attainable for the "average" user, it will certainly allow more people to enjoy the finest personal computer display that we have ever seen.

A large problem with the new Cube configurations and prices, as stated above, is that Apple is clearly building on the success of iTunes and marketing the Cube as a consumer, rather than a business, machine. No CD-RW means no iTunes in the low end models, again presenting Apple with the original problem: who is going to buy it?

Make no mistake, we love the Cube. With the ability to add a Radeon or NVIDIA graphics card, the Cube is a machine that will serve most users admirably. Throw a CD-RW on top of that, and now it is a machine to be dealt with. However, adding those key features raises the price enough to again beg the question, "Why a Cube and not a G4 tower?"

Other than the "cool factor" we have no answer for that, and neither has Apple to this point.

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