TV-PGJanuary 26, 2005: Analyst Rob Enderle contends that the iMac G5 will fall over, break, and cut you with broken glass the next time there's an earthquake. Meanwhile, UK price hikes on certain Mac mini options were just mistakes that have since corrected, but does a hidden reference to an "apple_g5_powerbook" on Apple's site indicate a product launch any day now?...
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What, No Warning Label?! (1/26/05)

So why are we so late this time? Well, it's a long story, but it all stems from the fact that our last episode didn't catch up on everything we'd missed during our convalescence. In particular, faithful viewer Chris H. tipped us off to a rant posted last week at Designtechnica by none other than analyst Rob "I Have a Sock Stuffed With Cheetos Where My Brain Should Be" Enderle. Given our delicate state what with the mucus and all, though, we were prepared to let it pass without comment, since it's just three pages of his usual "Apple is going down the toilet and here are nine provably false and/or completely incomprehensible arguments why" shtick, which we've all seen a bazillion times before-- but then we noticed the glint of something dreadfully, dreadfully important buried in the Enderlean muck: a claim that the iMac G5 is outright unsafe for use.

That's right, kiddies; in addition to being paid for spitting quotable sound bites at CNET reporters, safety-conscious Rob is apparently also a mechanical engineer with a profound understanding of torque, rotational inertia, and all that great stuff you slept through in physics class. And his professional analysis of the iMac G5's industrial design is that it's "far less stable" than the iMac G4's screen-on-a-bendy-arm approach: says he, the G5 "places the weight too high and relies on a base that is too narrow making it likely that it would fall."

So why haven't we been flooded with reports of iMacs falling over all across the country, you ask? Simple-- there just haven't been enough earthquakes since the model first shipped. Yes, Rob's contention is that the latest iMac may seem harmless and stable in normal circumstances, but as soon as the marvel of plate tectonics makes the room start gettin' jiggy wit' it, the iMac G5 will flop over like a drunken haddock with an inner ear infection. Worse yet, he apparently also thinks that when the iMac takes a header, its LCD screen will shatter and slaughter your loved ones: "Falling glass can be a huge hazard in a home late at night when you are trying to get the kids and family to safety during an earthquake."

Holy cats! We've actually witnessed LCDs being damaged before (the most memorable being a Gateway laptop that was set down on a curb and then backed over by a bus), but we've never seen one actually spray life-threatening shards of glass when it cracked. Since Enderle's warning foretells tens of thousands of serious injuries and deaths among iMac G5 owners living anywhere remotely near a fault line whenever the next tremor hits, we immediately took it upon ourselves to test his theory for the sake of our viewers' safety.

To that end, we "appropriated" (cough) an iMac G5 for testing purposes and set it up in our lab. Then we simulated a 5.3-magnitude seismic event by standing in front of it, joining hands, and jumping up and down like Steve Ballmer on designer crack. We had barely started screaming "GIVE IT UP FOR MEEEEE!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!" (for verisimilitude, you understand) when the iMac tipped right over, shattered on impact with the tabletop, and launched eight-inch shards of thick broken glass straight at our faces, piercing our eyeballs and lodging deep in our grey matter.

Which is, of course, why we're so late; it took time to rise from the dead, pick the glass out of our brains through our traumatized orbital sockets, grow new eyeballs, etc. (The things we do in the name of science.) But we're here now to tell all of you who own iMac G5s that you may meet the same sorry fate as soon as a heavy truck drives past your house. Please take suitable precautions, such as setting the iMac's base in forty pounds of cement, surrounding the whole unit with a bulletproof cage, installing gravity-negaters in the room where the iMac resides, and planning new earthquake evacuation routes that keep you at least fifty feet away from the iMac at all times. Many thanks to Rob Enderle for pointing out that the iMac G5 is such a deathtrap when an earthquake hits; if he hadn't mentioned it, how would we ever have guessed?

Incidentally, just to return the favor, we'd like to issue a little warning to Rob himself. Remember when his wife Mary trashed the iMac G5 in a MacNewsWorld piece last September? She also mentioned that "the base seems too narrow for safe use" and that "knocking over a PC could be catastrophic"; clearly their love is set in a strong foundation of shared mechanical engineering expertise and concern for personal safety-- or is it? Because in that very article, Mary also happened to mention that she and Rob "have very modern taste in furniture with lots of glass, stainless steel and leather."

Glass furniture? In California? Rob, Rob, Rob... granted, a glass coffee table probably won't crash to the floor and propel jagged shards six inches into your brainpan at the slightest tremor the way an iMac G5 certainly will, but still-- should you really be endangering yourself and your family that way? We strongly recommend that you immediately replace all of your furniture with furry bean bag chairs and a novelty inflatable couch. After all, why risk puncturing that Cheeto-filled sock in your skull?

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Down, Up, Same Difference (1/26/05)

We're sure that everyone's up to speed on the pricing weirdness that struck the UK Apple Store on Wednesday, but given how twitchy the overseas market has been lately regarding Apple's Mac mini pricing, we thought it'd still be a good idea to make absolutely sure that we're all clear on this. Faithful viewer Andy Misle was the first to inform us that, following an apparent unannounced price hike, UK customers looking to configure their Mac minis with a full 1 GB of RAM were being charged £561.53-- roughly $1,059.04-- for the privilege. Just the day before, the cost was £290-- lump the increase together with the fact that US customers only pay $325 for the same RAM (which, by the way, is the same stuff available from third-party vendors for as little as $170 according to dealRAM, but who's counting?) and Mac-shopping Brits were understandably a little peeved.

And it gets worse: packing Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme into that teensy lil' chassis only costs us 99 clams here in the States, but on Wednesday, the same option at the UK store jumped from £83.99 to a whopping £152.88, or about $288.33. For that kind of dough, here's hoping it at least comes with Steve's autograph across the logo, a certificate of authenticity, and a coupon for one free backrub, because otherwise UK customers were getting shafted to the extreme-- especially in light of the fact that Apple had just dropped prices on those options in the US (from their original $475 and $129 levels) the day before.

Well, put down the ropes and torches, folks, because as Macworld UK reported, this wasn't yet another example of Apple giving UK customers the shaft; it was just a good ol'-fashioned mistake. All pricing at the UK Apple Store has since been corrected, and look-- instead of a price increase, those options received a reduction comparable to the price cuts in the US: the 1 GB of RAM dropped 24 percent to £220.01, and the wireless bundle dropped 17 percent to £69.99. Granted, those prices are still well above what we pay in the States, but that's par for the course-- and at least they went down instead of up.

Like we said before, we fully expect that everyone who cared knows about the correction by now, but we wanted to be sure. The Mac mini seems to have put people into a particularly price-sensitive mood lately (what with that petition and all), and the last thing Apple needs right now is for the one disgruntled guy in England who didn't hear that the price hike was really supposed to have been a price drop to hop on a plane to sunny California and assault Steve Jobs with a pointed stick and a bunch of loganberries.

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All The Proof You Need! (1/26/05)

Ahhhh, speculative hypercredulity-- the official affliction of the Post-Stevenote Doldrums! C'mon, you know the drill by now: you spend weeks and weeks leading up to Macworld Expo bathing in an ever-increasing torrent of Mac rumors, the magical day finally arrives, you oooh and aaah over the new gear, and then bam-- gravity gets tripled, the air flees your lungs, and you're adrift in a staticky void in which the Mac rumormongering had dropped to near-zero. After the Expo, everyone knows full well that no new major Apple product intros are likely to surface for a while, so the speculative whispers practically disappear for a few weeks until some real post-Expo news starts to surface.

Unfortunately, lots of us get addicted to the ever-increasing amounts of dirt pouring in as the Stevenote approaches, and when we're forced to go cold turkey after the big event, speculative hypercredulity sets in. That's when we seize upon the flimsiest shreds of rumor, disregard any concerns about "reliable sources" or the feasibility of the described scenario (whatever it may be) and just believe like there's no tomorrow. Case in point: faithful viewer Isaac informed us that The Register is actually going on about what must be the imminent launch of the PowerBook G5, just because some third-party ad-tracking code on the PowerBook page links in a graphic with the filename "apple_g5_powerbook."

Here's the "logic" at work: since the Power Mac and Xserve pages link to separate ad-tracking graphics whose filenames correctly identify the processor used in those two products, it's therefore unlikely that the PowerBook one just happens to be wrong. If that argument makes sense to you and it never once crossed your mind that the "apple_g5_powerbook" filename might simply contain a typo, beware: you probably have an acute case of speculative hypercredulity! Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, and stay away from traveling salesmen and late-night infomercials until the illness has passed, or else you may wind up with more Ab Twisters and George Foreman grills than you can count.

Seriously, we're just not buying the theory that Apple stuck a real PowerBook G5 tracking counter on its PowerBook page because it's "preparing 'before' and 'after' stats" in advance of a product intro coming sooner rather than later. After all, Apple has already corrected the filename to read "apple_g4_powerbook"-- and besides, everyone knows that the PowerBook G5 won't surface until WWDC, where it'll make its debut with quad 3.0 GHz processors, a solid Adamantium enclosure, and an active cooling system consisting of dozens of teensy elves with paper fans. It's true! We heard it from some guy. And why would some guy lie to us about that?

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