In Contrast

I feel a little dirty, after giving Vista a less-than-condescending review, so in penance, I’m going to brag on another computer for a moment.
In our home office (which doubles as our bedroom) we have a sleek, virtually silent computer. It’s connected to a very sharp, 18″LCD monitor, an incredibly useful HP Printer/Scanner/Copier, and a diminutive but powerful little stereo.
It connects to the Mac Mini in our home theater over the wireless network, and plays our library of DVDs and downloaded TV content, which we can control in bed with a little remote control.
It receives and sorts our e-mail, automatically flagging and categorizing different mail right on the server (over IMAP, since the iPhone can’t do any of those advanced features), and syncs with our shared Address Book and Calendars.
Did I mention that it’s 7 years old?
g4cube.jpgOur office/secondary-media/e-mail-and-chat Mac is a relatively ancient G4 Cube, running at 450Mhz with a slightly pumped up 768MB of RAM, and a new-ish 80GB hard drive. It’s no Mac mini, but we run MPlayer instead of FrontRow, and I picked up a KeySpan remote for $20 on eBay, and its as capable as a much newer machine. It’s running the latest version of OS X, and does so without complaint or lag.
It has a few limitations, and unfortunately was an early model, so has the weaker of the two video cards that the Cube were configured with, and only two USB ports can be annoying. But both problems are easily solved with less than $50 and a visit to eBay. I wouldn’t try running FinalCut on her, but she runs PhotoShop CS without delay.
The thing is on 24/7. When awake you can hear the hard drive spinning, and nothing else. When its asleep, its completely silent. It has no fans, and the whole computer floats elegantly in a glass enclosure that still looks futuristic, despite its age. I had initially picked it up for bragging rights, with the intention of pushing it as far as I could, and then selling it on eBay as a collectors item — I paid less than $200 for it, and figured I could upgrade it with spare parts and make a little money. But I kept pushing it, and it kept outperforming my expectations. It worked its way into useful life as the sexiest, coolest and oldest computer in our array of devices, and even though its “obsolete” it gives the Craptop running Vista a run for its money.

One thought on “In Contrast

  1. Despite our intention to get by over here on a Dell laptop and whatever the school provided, we ended up getting a used desktop including a clunky old monitor and tower. Brutal choice but money’s tight. I was impressed by the array of choices in Asia when we went shopping. Outside of laptops, there are vitually no ‘packages’ over here. You buy pieces of everything you need – both hardware and software – and they put together the package that you want. As a result almost nobody over here has Vista, which comes by default in North America. The standard for PCs is XP Pro, much cheaper and more servicable. Alas for Jon, Macs are a rarity as well!

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