And Silence Is Golden (10/5/99)

So there weren't any shocker announcements at today's Apple event that took us by surprise; there's no Apple-branded Palm device that doubles as a sphygmomanometer, Apple isn't buying eBay and renaming it iBay, and Steve Jobs isn't resigning his iCEO post to return to his home planet in the galaxy of Andromeda. But are we disappointed? Heck no. You know why not? Because the fact that the new iMacs are official, real, honest-to-goodness products with specs identical to the rumors is enough of a happy surprise to keep us giggly for weeks. Whodathunkit? We were braced for disappointment because the rumors seemed too good to be true, only to find that Apple's new consumer desktops are everything everyone hoped for and more.

After all, what's not to love? First you've got the entry-level model, which improves on the "current" revision D iMacs with better graphics, double the RAM, a slightly faster processor, an improved CD-ROM drive, kick-ass speakers, and Airport wireless networking capability, all for $999-- $200 less than its less-capable predecessor. Then there's the DV model, which ups the ante with a larger hard disk, two FireWire ports, DVD-ROM, and "iMovie" video-editing software, all for just $1299. (To keep things in perspective, remember what $1299 got you in an iMac a year ago.) And last, but definitely not least, is the "special edition" iMac DV, with 128 MB of RAM, a 13 GB hard drive, and a Graphite case whose sheer beauty could make the blind see again. Believe us; any computer that can be featured in a commercial shown on Buffy/Angel premiere night and whose looks can hold their own with the likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, and Charisma Carpenter is a computer that's forever welcome into our home. If you haven't basked in the glow of the new iMacs, you will definitely want to download the QuickTime versions of the three new commercials.

But with the flashy specs and the kicky new look, it's easy to get distracted from the real heart of the iMac 2.0: the goofy details. And the goofiest of the goofy is the fact that Steve Jobs has pulled it off again; the new iMacs have no fans. Jobs' dislike for fans in computer equipment is a thing of legend; we figure he must have been involved in some kind of fan-based trauma as a child or something. He thinks that computers should only make noise when you tell them to, and we can respect that. Aren't we lucky, then, that the G3 is so power-efficient that all Apple had to do to remove the fan from the iMac's design was punch a few more holes in the case? The only noise that emanates from the new iMacs is the sound of their hard disks and CD/DVD drives; by contrast, our it-has-three-fans-'cause-it's-MANLY PowerTower Pro is audible from two rooms away with the door closed; with the door open, it sounds like the next-door neighbors have their own private wind tunnel. So yeah, of course we're tempted to replace this deafening thing with a nice, quiet iMac, or even a G4-- we hear those are darned quiet, too, even with a fan. Now if Steve can just figure out some way to make hard disks silent, too, he'll have our gratitude forever...

SceneLink (1824)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/5/99 episode:

October 5, 1999: It's here, it's clear, get used to it: Steve unveils three new iMacs calculated to separate you from your hard-earned cash. Meanwhile, a bizarre ripple in the time-space continuum temporarily transforms the Apple home page into a realm-protected gateway into the mysteries of the unknown, and Motorola is tired of being the megahertz whipping boy, so the next G4 revision is designed to boost clock speed...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1825: Just Out Of Reach (10/5/99)   We had about as much luck tuning into the live QuickTime webcast of today's festivities as we did trying to figure out why the chihuahua and those cops want that guy to drop the Chalupa-- in short, none...

  • 1826: MHz Wars: Another Shot (10/5/99)   Now that there's this incredibly rockin' new iMac, Apple's victory in the battle for consumer market share is all but assured, right? Think again. There's still that little matter of price-performance to consider...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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