Wires Are So '90s (6/29/00)

Here's one more Expo quickie for the road: you've heard, of course, the rumors that Apple will finally ship a redesigned mouse and keyboard with this alleged new iMac next month, yes? Now, we had no trouble imagining that someone at Apple may finally have glanced at a market research report and noticed that the vast majority of the computer-buying public isn't crazy about small keyboards and tiny round mice, thus prompting the development of what will hopefully be more ergonomically-friendly replacements for what MacAddict once referred to as "Crampy and the Puck." The only thing that would surprise us about such a move is that it would almost be an admission of defeat, since Apple has steadfastly forced those almost-universally-reviled input devices down Mac users' throats for nearly two solid years now.

But what really set off the Skepticism Alarm for us was the description of the new mouse's features; AppleInsider makes it sound like The Mouse From Space. Allegedly it's based on the same Hewlett-Packard use-on-any-surface optical technology as Microsoft's hit Intellimouse Explorer. Okay, we can buy that. It's also claimed to have no conventional buttons; "clicks" are invoked through arcane squeezing motions or pressing down on different edges. We can sort of accept that, too, because it's just the sort of weirdness that we've come to associate with our differently-thinking pals in Cupertino. But then there's the whole rumor that this ÜberMouse is wireless. That's the part that had us doubting the whole story. A wireless mouse-- standard with new Macs? Surely that'd be too expensive to pull off.

But now we're reconsidering that opinion, ever since Logitech announced Mac support for several of their spiffy-looking input devices. In particular, we noticed that the Cordless MouseMan Wheel, which communicates via radio waves to a receiver that plugs into a USB port, lists for only $59.95. That's a lot cheaper than we would have expected for a wireless mouse-- especially since it's a mere $20 more expensive than the standard MouseMan Wheel, its cord-bearing sibling. So why couldn't Apple ship wireless input devices with every Mac? It would definitely put a lot of the "gee whiz" factor back into the iMac line. Although, if this rumor turns out to be true, we can only imagine the ingenious ways in which schools and retail stores are going to "discourage" the removal of the devices from the public systems. Here's hoping Apple includes optional security cables...

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The above scene was taken from the 6/29/00 episode:

June 29, 2000: More evidence that a new iMac is just around the corner: the low-end iMac shows up as "discontinued" in CompUSA's inventory system. Meanwhile, rumors continue to spread that Apple's gearing up to launch its own Mac-only retail outlets, and those wild stories about Apple planning to ship a wireless mouse with every Mac don't seem quite so crazy in light of Logitech's product prices...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2389: More Evidence Mounting (6/29/00)   We think it's pretty safe to say that there is no way-- no way-- that Steve Jobs is going to leave the stage at Macworld Expo in three weeks without taking the wraps off of some shiny new hardware. If history has taught us anything, it's that domestic Expo keynotes bring us cool new gear...

  • 2390: The Mac Retail Paradise (6/29/00)   While the "new iMacs" rumor hovers near the top of the Keynote Likelihood Scale, there are a ton of other whispers you may have heard that hit rather lower on the graph. For instance, damn near nobody is still talking about the possibility of an Apple-branded Palm-based PDA breaking onto the scene (small wonder, given Schiller's public denial of any such product), and in fact we've seriously considered flat-out stating that no such beast will ever see the light of day-- purely in hopes that Apple will then ship one just to prove us wrong...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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