Just Another Pretty Face?

Few would dispute that the iMac single-handedly saved Apple's bacon in the late nineties. But as the all-in-one desktop nears its third birthday amid an industrywide slump in PC sales, is the iMac headed for its last hurrah? After all, you can change a computer's color only so many times and expect to turn heads.

But the company sees The Computer That Steve Jobs Built becoming the hub for digital devices such as MP3 players, DV cameras, and CD players. The latest tweaks to the iMac reflect that strategy.

Apple raised the price of its basic iMac but added two FireWire ports. Since every new iMac now can edit digital videos, the confusing DV distinction is gone. The 500MHz and 600MHz models ditch the DVD drive in favor of a CD-RW drive-all the better for burning CDs with iTunes 1.1.

Buyers who want to upgrade to OS X may be disappointed that only the iMac SE has 128MB of installed memory-the amount of RAM recommended for running the new operating system. Many users have been able to run the OS X beta with only 64MB of RAM, but to run the finished operating system, the 400MHz and 500MHz iMacs may still need a memory upgrade.

The Cube Cubed

When Apple rolled out the Power Mac G4 Cube last summer, people marveled at its compact size. They drooled over its sleek design. They praised its top-loading slot DVD drive and crisp digital sound. And then they didn't buy it. G4 Cube sales were well short of Apple's expectations. What's a company to do but slash prices, create three configurations, and try again? Think of the new Cubes as Apple's attempt to turn admiration of the Cube into actual sales of the Cube.

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