You’d think the new iMac G5 had been reborn instead of getting a facelift. Thinner. Faster. Camera. Remote control.
It’s still just an iMac. High praise from PC Magazine, now Gadget of the Week from Time Magazine. Is this Steve Job’s Reality Distortion Field at work?
We’re used to Apple products garnering praise from even the most die hard Windows-oriented stalwarts. It happens all the time.
In this case, Apple did a minor facelift to the best selling iMac G5 and media critters can’t stop gushing about it.
Not only do we read great praise from PC Magazine, long known to diss Macs and all things Apple, they give it about as many stars as you can get from them.
The very next week, Time Magazine throws paragraph after paragraph at the new iMac G5. It’s the one that’s a little thinner, a little faster, has a built-in camera, and features Front Row.
What’s going on? Check out what Time Magazine says about their latest Gadget of the Week:
“The computer is the respectable work of engineering you might expect: a tad trimmer than the last iMac, this one has a faster G5 processor, faster RAM, a souped-up graphics card and up to 500GB of internal hard disk storage. It has all of that plus a built-in iSight camera. That means easy access to iChat AV, or fun snapshots from the new, slightly gimmicky Photo Booth software. You pick an effect, like Fish Eye or the Warholian Pop Art, then pose for your portrait. You can e-mail the resulting image, or bring it into iPhoto or even turn it into your buddy icon with a click.”
There’s nothing special in the opening salvos of praise from Time writer Wilson Rothman. Faster CPU, faster RAM, faster Graphics Card, bigger hard drive. Who could complain?
Then again, are such minor adjustments in an iconic computer worthy of so much verbiage? What’s the main attraction for an obvious Windows user?
“The main attraction—and the reason for the remote—is called Front Row. By tapping the remote’s “Menu” button, the computer’s screen switches from the familiar OS X desktop to a black backdrop with four oversized but recognizable icons.”
So, the cat is out of the bag but everyone is waiting for still another cat. Front Row. The computer for the rest of us hasn’t even reached the rest of us. Yet. Front Row, which displays a nifty cycling menu for iMovie, iTunes, iPhoto, and DVD player, is a new iMac G5 ONLY application.
The included Apple Remote is available separately and works with Apple’s iPod Universal Dock. Front Row isn’t available on any other Mac.
Are there any notable problems with Front Row (besides the inevitable comparisons with Microsoft’s Windows Media Center)?
“It’s easy to use and for the most part enjoyable. I was dismayed that the software didn’t bookmark TV shows, so that I could go back to the spot where I had previously left off. I was surprised that the music program listed bands starting with “The” under “T”, since iTunes is (famously) smart enough to list them under the proper letter—that is, The Rolling Stones should appear under “R” and so on. When I brought these to Apple’s attention, I was reminded that these are simple software issues, and was given permission to be optimistic that, in the near future, these might very well get fixed.”
Uh oh. Wait a minute. Check that last sentence. Now check your calendar. Macworld 2006 is less than two months away and an Apple rep is telling a customer to be ‘optimistic’ about the near future?
Considering that the iMac G5 is Time’s Gadget of the Week, there’s plenty of copy given to Front Row instead. Front Row is a rather simple Mac application that acts as a front end to other Mac applications on most Macs; not just the G5.
“Right about now, fans of Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition are saying, “Big deal—Windows PCs have shipped with remotes to manage all of the above, plus true television recording, for years.” There’s no escaping the fact that Apple, as usual, is following someone else. But even fans of the Media Center PC know that it hasn’t taken off like wildfire, and there are plenty of reasons.”
So, the maker of the Gadget of the Week is being accused of following someone else? And the someone else is Microsoft? That’s news.
Rothman goes on to complain about the sorry state of recording TV shows on computers, why it’s a problem even for Microsoft’s much-bashed Media Center, and then says:
“There are solutions to these frustrations on the way, but for now they stand as frustrations. It’s no surprise, then, that Apple steered way clear of that mess.”
That’s praise, huh? It gets better. Look at the music videos, movie shorts, and TV shows on the iTunes Music Store, and how easy they can get downloaded to your Mac and iPod.
Rothman’s take on that famed Apple ease-of-use?
“I think Apple needs to offer easier access to more programming. I’m sure the folks in Cupertino are hard at work trying to make these deals happen, but they did give us a bit of a taste of what I’m talking about. Under the Videos icon, you can select Movie Trailers, and get access to high-resolution sneak previews that look and sound incredible, but are streamed from Apple’s servers. If the company were to give us even just three or four times the TV programming that it currently offers with iTunes, and let us get at it with the remote like a movie trailer, they’ll never hear the end of the cash register’s cha-ching.”
So, after all that, what’s REALLY Time Magazine’s Gadget of the Week? The iMac G5? Apple’s Front Row? The potential of iTunes Music Store’s ability to get videos to your Mac?
As usual, it’s all of the above.