August 31, 2000

Gotta Have It!

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Once upon a time computers were packaged in large, grossly noisy boxes which immediately engendered a reaction of “a geek must reside here.” Oh, how times have changed.

Now the very appliances that were once described in arcane terms that became the foundation of ‘geek-speak’ currently reside on every executive’s desk and in almost everyone’s pocket. We live in a ‘Geek Chic’ world and the computer we use not only is functional, but the styling actually helps define the type of person we are. And just like the world of fashion and cars, there are leaders in this styling revolution — Sony and Apple — the BMW and Porsche of the computing world.

Both companies have recently released products that not only add panache to the desktop, but also are two of the most powerful computers in their class. First is the Power Mac G4 Cube which, in the Apple press kit, Adobe President Bruce Chizen notes, ‘has the power of a G4 with a great deal of styling and elegance.’ And for the portable consumer, nothing beats the look of a Sony Vaio Notebook which weighs in at a mere 2.8 lbs and is only 1″ thick.

The Power Mac G4 Cube is a visual masterpiece. An eight-inch cube in a clear plexiglass enclosure, the computer looks as though it is hovering over the desk-top. In this machine is a virtual super computer, a 450mhz G4 Velocity Engine processor that is capable of smoothly executing advanced graphical applications. With a top-loading DVD drive, the machine acts like a toaster oven and the best part about it? It is eerily silent since Apple was able to eliminate the cooling fan. Included with the cube is an optical mouse which has a really awesome looking red optical light used for tracking (instead of a mechanical roller ball). The machine has enough expansion ports to please any user with video editing (DV-editing) capabilities and ultra-fast USB and Ethernet transfer. The machine is a powerhouse, however at $1799 with no monitor included, the computer is a little pricey for the average student.

If your personal computing style happens to mandate a more mobile computer — the revamped Sony Vaio Notebook PCG-SR5K ($1999) is a fabulous machine. The Vaio offers a 500mhz Pentium III processor in its one inch enclosure, an impressive feat. It has the ability for DV-editing with a Firewire (iLink) slot and the ability to add accessories such as DVD-ROM or Zip Drive. The disadvantage to the Vaio’s size is that all of the peripheral devices must be attached using cords, which can clutter a desktop and take away from the elegance of the unit itself. The limited screen size necessary to make the unit so sleek can be a disadvantage for a college student who gazes into the computer for hours every day. At only 10.4″ inches, the screen is noticeably smaller than other portable computers in its class.

Either way you look at it, computers are becoming reflections of our personal styles. Apple and Sony have come a long way in bringing not only power to our dorms, but also putting it in some pretty great looking products. No matter what choice you make, you can be assured that you won”t be called Poindexter behind your back.

Archived article by Ryan Silbert