Dual 1GHz Power Mac G4: Apple Breaks the Gig-Barrier
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There are more details that caught my eye with this Mac. I like the way, when the unit is in standby mode, called "sleep," that the pilot light slowly alternates between glowing and dark, as if the thing is taking sleepy breaths. I can see why many Mac users tend to anthropomorphize their silicon-based computing friends. The Mac wakes from sleep mode almost instantaneously, too, and is free of the wake-up troubles seen in earlier versions of OS X. I am also impressed with the graphic design of OS X, which has candy-colored buttons throughout that let you change them to gray if you're distracted by such things. Also, the vector-based icons are sharp whatever size you choose them to be, with the convenient Dock sitting along the bottom or along the sides as you so choose.

Opens easyThe hardware feels like it's designed with human beings in mind. For example, the handles on either side of the top of the case invite you to pick it up. By now everyone has seen the way the Mac case opens so easily -- a process that's akin to opening a car door -- rather than most PC cases which can only be opened by expert lock pickers and safe crackers. It's nice the way you can push a button on the keyboard and the DVD-R's door opens, as if it's sticking its tongue out at you. The keyboard has a volume control that reacts immediately, unlike days of old when it tended to lag. Another entertaining detail is its screen savers that slowly zoom into luscious scenic graphics, where the zoom is as soothingly smooth as the pictures are sharp. You can also include your own photos in the screen saver, as well. Some of these attributes I point out might seem to be trivialities, but there are scores of these nice touches throughout the entire product, and I think these all add up to that much-heralded Mac "mystique." [an error occurred while processing this directive] When I used the Mac G4 for Adobe After Effects 5.5, it was as responsive as I've ever seen a Mac perform. However, when we compared its rendering speed to that of After Effects 5.5 running on a dual Athlon MP 1800+ PC, it came up short, rendering our six comps slower every time, no matter how we configured it or even when we ran After Effects 5.5 on OS 9.2. See the report and test results by clicking here. But when we used Discreet Cleaner 5.1 to compress our demo files to the Sorenson 3 codec, the G4 could almost keep up with the Athlon MP. With each file, the G4 trailed the Athlon by only two or three seconds, and tied it on two of the files. So, I'm thinking part of the severe trouncing the Mac took from that third-rate PC had something to do with the After Effects 5.5 code, and we're looking forward to the next version of After Effects, where we hope that optimization of the Altivec instructions can help the Mac perform better in AE. But the other reason the Mac got toasted is because of its processors. They're not as fast as the quickest Athlons. Say what you will, Mac-zealot flamers, but all I can say is, when, oh when, will Apple finally abandon brain-dead cell-phone maker Motorola, and team up with a chipmeister that will cater to its every whim, and most importantly, keep up with the PC competition? Most esteemed Steve, can you spell A-M-D?

Apple Cinema displayThat said, I couldn't have been happier with the user experience that is the Mac G4 Dual 1GHz. Coupled with the Apple Cinema Display, perhaps the best monitor I've ever seen short of its bigger, $3500 brother the Cinema HD display, this is a superb consumer product. Together, monitor and computer comprise a package of components that transcend just the silicon, metal and plastic that they really are. This is nothing but quality design and workmanship, in the computer itself and in its mighty software within. With even faster processors on the horizon, with OS X under the hood, the Mac is going to be hard to beat.

Charlie White, your humble storytellerCharlie White has been writing about new media and digital video since it was the laughingstock of the television industry. A technology journalist and columnist for the past eight years, White is also an Emmy-winning producer, video editor and shot-calling PBS TV director with 27 years broadcast experience. Talk back -- Send Chazz a note at [email protected].

Click here for best price on the Power Mac G4 Dual 1-GHz.

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