From the Editor's Desk

The Internet has changed everyone's view of what timeliness really means. In the old days, Macworld would be on top of things if new Apple products appeared in these pages within a few weeks of their release. In 2004, even a week's delay means we're an entire week behind the information that readers can find online.

As we went to press with this issue of Macworld, Apple announced the new AirPort Express and a new round of faster Power Mac G5s. By the time you read this issue, those announcements will have been trumped by whatever Apple unveils at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

This issue goes to press before the June conference begins. But we'll use our Web sites, Macworld.com and MacCentral.com, to provide you with as much information as we can about that event as quickly as we can. After all, we had extensive online coverage of the AirPort Express and the new Power Mac G5s as soon as they debuted.

Six Ideas in One

In true Apple fashion, the AirPort Express is a half-dozen ideas rolled together into one small white plastic box. What you get is an AirPort Base Station, a wireless relay, a music streamer for stereos and powered speakers, a wireless print server, and more.

The AirPort Express's most intriguing feature is its audio-out jack. When connected to a remote base station, the AirPort Express becomes a wireless music streamer, playing your iTunes music on any set of speakers within range. This innovation clearly marks the first step in a whole series of home audio–related advances from Apple. For instance, as a user of Slim Devices' Squeezebox (   ; April 2004), I really appreciate having a small handheld remote control for choosing, playing, and pausing my music without having to move a mouse. Although programs such as Salling Software's Salling Clicker can help you control iTunes remotely, I suspect the AirPort Express's arrival means Apple will dive into this area rather soon.

Fast Times

Last year about this time, Apple said its new G5s would attain speeds of 3GHz by this summer. Unforeseen hitches in the ultra-high-tech process that produces the G5 chip have made it impossible to hit that milestone. On the bright side, Apple's new liquid-cooled 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 takes the company halfway to its 3GHz goal. And while all Mac users who expected to be blown away by a 1GHz speed boost in a year's time have a right to be disappointed, a 25 percent improvement in clock speed isn't something we should scoff at.

Apple's new dual-processor G5s all appear to offer speed boosts that power-hungry pro users will truly appreciate. I'm not sure if I'm as excited about the slightly faster G5s as I am about the AirPort Express, but 500MHz of new speed per processor will satisfy me just fine.

All Projects, Big and Small

Life as a Mac user isn't all about new Apple products, however. This month's cover story, "The Next Do-It-Yourself Mac", is a collection of step-by-step guides and idea-generating tips that will help you change or add to your Mac hardware. The story tackles topics from the simple -- setting up your Mac as a fax-machine replacement -- to the complex -- installing a SuperDrive in an old Titanium PowerBook. I hope that some of the tips and tricks strike your fancy and motivate you to make some improvements to the way you work with your Mac.

About This Macworld

You may have noticed that Macworld looks a little different this month. In fact, Art Director Jennifer Steele and Senior Designer Amy Helin have been making small changes to the magazine for months, starting with our Mac Beat and Hot Stuff sections and rolling out the rest of the magazine with this issue. The changes we've made aren't too dramatic -- although we've standardized the headline type, the body type remains unchanged -- but they should help make the magazine a bit easier to read and more unified.

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