The Cube

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The plastic, cube-shaped device may look spartan, and it may be no bigger than a tissue box. But hidden beneath the Power Mac G4 Cube's deceptively simple design is a machine that will change the way you think about what a computer -- or a TV, video game, or home stereo -- can be.

The Cube, which should be shipping by the time you read this, doesn't have a single analog circuit in it, except for the power supply. By leaving analog behind, the Cube is a product that should appeal to Mac users who've longed for the power of a G4 but have hesitated to embrace the complexity (not to mention the expense) of the G4 tower.

"A lot of pros wanted the simplicity of an iMac," says Jon Rubinstein, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering.

"A lot of consumers were buying G4s to get the power."

Hence, the Cube's price: at $1,799, it costs more than the 400MHz G4. But it also packs more of a wallop. The Cube comes with two USB Harman Kardon speakers, a digital amplifier, and iMovie 2. (A 500MHz G4 Cube sells for $2,229.)

At 9.8 by 7.7 by 7.7 inches, the Cube is hardly bigger than its top-loading DVD slot drive. Instead of a fan, a large radiating vent on the top of the box dissipates the heat generated by the Cube's 450MHz G4 processor.

Because of its excellent digital audio capabilities and its ability to play DVD-quality movies, the Cube is likely to end up in home entertainment centers.

Combine it with an array of third-party USB-based peripherals, and the Cube could become the tiny translucent center of an audio/video/Web-surfing/game-playing system to make even hard-core digital-convergence naysayers fall to their knees and beg forgiveness -- or at least stop comparing the Cube to a tissue box.

--Lee Clow, chief creative officer of TBWA/Chiat/Day, on his initial reaction to the G4 Cube

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