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December 17th, 1999

[11:00 AM] Mossberg On CNBC Likes The iMac DV, Slams AirPort
by Wes George

Water Mossberg, technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, is the world's most respected techno-wit, so when he reviews the iMac DV Special Edition and AirPort Base Station, Apple's wireless networking device, consumers listen.

Like most personal technology reviewers, Mr. Mossberg writes mainly about Wintel products. However, unlike less well known PC-centric commentators-- such as Jesse Berst and Dvorak-- Mr. Mossberg is an unbiased reviewer and is willing to give Apple products a chance.

Yesterday, Mr. Mossberg appeared on CNBC to talk about his review of the iMac DV and the Airport. You can read his review if you have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

If not, here's the gist of it:

First, the good news. It's called the iMac DV Special Edition, and it's the best-looking, most powerful and most capable iMac since the curvy, colorful, one-piece computer was introduced last year. The $1,500 Special Edition comes in a new, subtler color -- a handsome gray called graphite -- and its sides and back are transparent, not translucent. The unit is a bit smaller and sleeker than the original iMacs, and much quieter than just about any other PC because there's no fan.

The iMac DV met with Mr. Mossberg's approval. Especially the iMovie software which comes pre-installed on the iMac DV Special Edition and allows you to edit your own digital video. Here's how it worked for Mr. Mossberg:

I tested the iMac by editing video footage shot by my assistant at her sister's baby shower in Canton, Ohio. First, we connected the Sony digital camcorder she had used on this special assignment to the FireWire port. The iMac and the iMovie software seamlessly took control of the camcorder. Using commands on the computer, we played back the lengthy video, and plucked out only the scenes we wanted -- the mother-to-be opening certain gifts, the reading of maternal advice from other guests, and a pop-quiz on baby care administered to the father-to-be. (He passed.)

Then, the software allowed us to effortlessly edit the scenes, arrange them into a concise, coherent movie, add titles, transitions and sound, and save the whole thing back onto a videotape in the camcorder.

Mr. Mossberg ends his review by recommending the iMac DV as the best iMac iteration yet and as a great general purpose computer.

Not so for the Airport

Again, Mr. Mossberg's report:

I tried setting up an AirPort network with three separate Macs -- the iMac Special Edition and two portable iBooks. I used four different Internet connections. I tested it at my office and my home. But I only was able to get it to work after four and a half hours of aggravating trial and error, including a session of reading technical documents on Apple's Web site.

And that was for just one dial-up Internet provider, the AirPort's network parameters had to be reconfigured manually for even minor changes in the set up.

Mr. Mossberg found the process so difficult that he declared it "impossible for anybody without some technical knowledge and help." Sounds more like a Microsoft product then the type of ease-of-use quality we have come to expect from Apple.

The Mac Observer Spin: Apple has a history of releasing IP software before the cooks have finished with it. Does anyone remember the nightmare of Open Transport 1.0, circa late 1995?

To be fair, Mr. Mossberg did report that the AirPort worked seamlessly as a wireless local network hub for file sharing between various Macs. The Macs were always able to find and connect with each other. He also commented that the radio card installation was a breeze.

Furthermore, just before Mr. Mossberg appeared on CNBC, an Apple representative called him to let him know that Apple is aware of the issue with the AirPort's Internet Connection ease of use and has a software update to be released next month, which should resolve the problem.

We certainly hope so. Both Compaq and Dell are planning wireless networking schemes for their PCs sometime early next year and it would be a shame to have the likes of a Compaq beat Apple in a side by side user friendliness comparison.


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