The New Look of Computers

Jobs introduces the new flat screen iMac at Macworld in San Francisco
Call them signs of things to come.

As the technology behind personal and business computers improves, so does the packaging they come in. The following items represent the cutting edge in design, performance and price... all of which are available now from your local computer dealer. And all of which are just about guaranteed to make friends and coworkers jealous.

Apple's new iMac
No question about it, the new iMac is wonderful. The 15-inch flat screen elegantly juts out of the white hemispherical base which houses the brains of this fabulous desktop. It's blazingly fast (with the 800 mhz G4 processor) and fully-loaded (with a Super Drive that even lets you make DVDs) and 5 USB hubs and two FireWire ports so you can connect all your peripherals and videocameras and iPod MP3 music devices, etc. Some say the iMac looks disconcertingly like a lamp, but I've never seen a lamp look as good.

I confess I have long had a prejudice against Macs: I thought they were for snooty graphics designers who were long on attitude and short on practicality. After all, about 90% of the personal computers are Windows-based, not Mac. But, this new iMac made me an instant convert. It took less than 4 minutes (3:58 to be precise) to set up the entire system from out of the box (and, like all of you, I didn't read instructions.) It took another 4 minutes to register the computer, connect to the web, and begin playing with all the programs. Ah, the programs! iMovie, which we raved about last week, lets you delightfully edit your home videos seamlessly. The iDvD software lets you take the movies you've edited and burn them onto professional-looking DVD's that can be played on any DVD player. iPhoto lets you collect and display digital photos in a smart way, and for $30 bucks you can turn your photos into a hard-bound book! I've found that Apple-based programs, by and large, are more intuitive and crash less often. For those hooked on PC-applications, there are even special software add-ins that let you run Windows-based programs, even Windows itself, on the iMac. I plan to buy one for the kids (and that includes me.) List: $1,799.

IBM Net Vista: X41 P4
Compared to the innocent looking iMac, IBM's Net Vista is dark, sleek, and angular, almost a "Darth Vader . Featuring a stunning 17-inch display with an integrated 1.8 GHz Pentium 4, this machine rocks. By mounting the processor behind the flat screen, IBM does keep the footprint of this PC relatively small. The Netvista also contrasts to the iMac in its physical presence. Where the iMac is a relatively light, easily movable machine, the Netvista is solid as a rock and as heavy as a boulder. The result is a powerful computer designed to turn heads at the office. $2000.

Compaq Evo D500 Desktop
Ultra Slim Desktop: For office use: much smaller than traditional computers. It features swappable, removable drives for easy expadability. You can stand it up or lay it down to help manage desk space. This one features a Celeron processor, but a Pentium is coming soon. List: $700.

Fujitsu Lifebook P series
This is a full-featured subnotebook computer at half the size of a regular laptop. It has a great battery; USB and Firewire ports, a DVD-CDRW combo drive or you can swap it out for an extra battery for nearly 15 hours of power! Winner of the Best in Show at this fall's Comdex show. About $1500.

Harman Kardon Champagne speakers
These fluted speakers are definitely the toast of my computer system right now. They look great and sound even better. What we didn't show on the air is the subwoofer that comes with these speakers which really fill out the bass most speaker systems lack. List: $169.