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Talkin' Smack: I Can Shut Up Now

The whining ends and the buying begins for the new dual 1 GHz G4 By Dave Nagel
All right, I can stop my whining now. For those of us whose faith was put to the test following the Macworld Expo this year, Apple's done a pretty good job of redeeming itself with the revelation that they really do listen to the needs of pro users. Today, of course, this redemption took the form of a new dual 1 GHz G4 tower with an Nvidia GeForce4 graphics card standard.

Nobody's going to argue that the speed increase from a dual 800 MHz machine to a dual 1 GHz machine is anywhere as dramatic as we might have hoped for. But Apple can't force Motorola to make faster chips. And the fact that Apple is at least trying to please the pro market by releasing the latest and greatest says something about their commitment.

What's more, today's announcements also show that Apple is willing to bend a little on price. The new dual 1 GHz machine lists for $2,999, about $500 less than the dual 800 MHz model and only $400 more than the previous single-processor 867 MHz model. When you consider the Nvidia graphics card that comes standard in the new mid-range and high-end models, what we're really looking at is a complete shift in pricing. The new top-end model sells for the same price as the previous 867 with an upgraded graphics card.

Not bad at all.

In fact, it's so "not bad" that today I headed out and bought myself one, making it the first time in my 16-year Mac history that I have purchased a top-end model. I've bought mid-range, and I've bought low-end, but never has there seemed to be so much of a compelling reason to buy the top-end Mac.

I also think this is an excellent pricing structure that Apple has set up, and one that makes sense for pro users. That is, a top-end, maxed-out, dual-processor Mac for $3,000. This keeps it in the price range of the high-end, single-processor Athlon workstations and also makes it a viable competitor in terms of performance. Few users would prefer a single 1.6 GHz Athlon over a dual 1 GHz G4 for about the same price. (Yes, I know you can get an Athlon for cheaper, but I'm talking about pre-assembled workstations; and don't even try to compare a G4 with the Intel crap from Dell or Compaq.) I hope that Apple carries this pricing into its future professional product lines.

Now, I'm writing this column on my G4 400, so I'd kind of like to wrap it up and go set up my new dualee. So let me close by saying this: Apple did the right thing at the right time. They could have waited for the next trade show so that Steve Jobs could get in his hour-long live infomercial, but they didn't. They put the fastest that Motorola has to offer into a box available now, and they brought down the price and threw in the best Nvidia graphics card as a little added bonus. No fanfare, no propaganda, just the best hardware available to run the best OS ever developed. I'll have more to say after I've had a chance to play around with ... er ... work with my new machine.

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].

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