Charles Moore's Mailbag

Cube Feedback

Charles Moore - 2001.04.30 - Tip Jar

The Cube Hitting Its Stride? columnwas a big mail generator. Unfortunately, my unscientific inferencethat things were picking up for theCube was refuted by the dismal Cube sales figures for the Cubereleased by Apple a week later. I still think the Cube is the mostlogical modular desktop Mac for the sort of things most of us dowith our computers.

Anyway, on to the letters!


From: Gene Woodward

Subject: Thanks for "Cube Hitting Its Stride?"

I appreciated your thoughts in your recent Cube Hitting Its Stride? article. Of thedifferent Cube configurations, the $1,299 Cube is the mostappealing, both for it's lower price and its built in DVD-ROM. Iagree wholeheartedly with your assessment about utilizing anexternal CD-RW.

Unfortunately, all indications are that this configuration willnot be around much longer. The $1,599 Cube has three differences:additional 64 MB RAM, CD-RW instead of DVD-ROM, and price. SinceApple's price for a G4 tower is the same whether you choose a CD-RWor DVD-ROM, and RAM is cheap, what accounts for the $300difference? Apple's convinced that CD-RW is a better choice forevery desktop Mac, so I'd guess that the $1,299 price tag willdisappear as soon as the current inventory does.

Thanks,
Gene W.


From Jim:

Subject: Cube. Good story

But can you really upgrade the chip? Would the added heat fromsay a 733 affect it? Or is there no difference?

Also if the chip can easily be upgraded why isn't there a 667 or733 cube?

I would love to be convinced.

Jim

Hi Jim,

I don't really know if the faster chips would pose a heat problemor not.

Actually, the latest scuttlebutt is that they are using the lowerpowered, lower heat, 7410 chip from the G4 PowerBook.

Charles

From Christopher Payne:

Subject: Re: Cube hitting its stride

I'm a happy Cube owner, and one of the key considerations thatplayed a role in my choice of the Cube over the G4 tower was itslack of a fan. My office is blissfully quiet. I have an oldPower Computing clone that isused occasionally, and the difference in sound is remarkable.

Quiet is better. Apple ought to hype this more with both theCube and the iMacs.

Christopher Payne


From Allan:

Subject: Re: Cube Hitting Its Stride?

Good article. I, too, like the Cube and don't need theexpandability of the G4 towers. I also prefer an externalCD-RW.

The only problems I have with the Cube are as follows:

  1. The reset button is on the bottom. What happens if the Cubefreezes up? You can no longer do a restart using theControl-Command-Power key, since the new keyboards lack the powerkey.
  2. The top-loading DVD slot bothers me. Yes, I know that it islined in such a way as to prevent dust from getting in, but dustand dirt will eventually settle in near the slot-opening. Wouldn'tdust and dirt somehow make their way in, especially every time youinsert a disc? And what if the disc is slightly warped? It would behard to get it out. I personally don't like slot loading drives forCDs/DVDs, period.
  3. The ports on the bottom make it a little crowded, especially ifyou've got enough peripherals to take advantage of all theports.
  4. No audio-in or out ports. Yes, I know you can plug headphonesinto the amplifier, but I would prefer external powered speakers ofmy own choice. I realize that you can use something like iMic tosolve in the audio-in/out problem, but this takes up another USBport and adds to the cable-count. At least the towers have aregular audio-out port, and the iMacs still have regularaudio-in/out ports. If the Cube is to be a consumer Mac, theyshould give us what we need: analog audio-in and out ports, and aheadphone jack on the Cube itself, not on the external amplifier.If you need digital audio, go with a tower.
  5. Drop the price a bit more. Up here in Canada, the Cube costs$1,949.99 for the 450 MHz/64 MB RAM/DVD model. If Apple is going tokeep this configuration, at least drop the price another $100-200(or if not, at least give us some more RAM and more software). Thiswould make it fit the headless iMac niche a little better. Even a600-700 MHz G3 model would be desirable, as long as the price islowered.
  6. No fan = heat kills. Yes, I know it's convection-cooled, but Isomehow can't see the components lasting too long in anun-air-conditioned environment such as my office, which faces west.It gets very warm in here in the afternoons, especially in summer.Also, wouldn't dust and dirt get in the vents at the top?

Other than these concerns, I love the idea of the Cube. Ipersonally would make it a bit bigger to accommodate a tray loadingDVD player. The faceplate of the tray could fit flush with thefront of the Cube, and therefore would not spoil its looks. Makingit slightly bigger would also give it a bit more room inside formore heat fins/convection cooling, insulation from hard drive/DVDnoise and vibration, etc. This would also allow the ports to bespaced a bit more generously. I would then put the reset button onthe front or top of the machine, add a headphone jack to the frontand put regular audio-in/out jacks in the back. If Apple can makethe Cube a true cube (i.e., the same dimensions for height, widthand depth), I would be a very happy person. I think a true cubedesign would look even hotter than the current design. I alwaysloved the NeXT Cube...

One thing Apple must never do: make a Flower Power Cube. Thiswould make it look too much like a tissue box!


From Paul Paris:

Subject: Cube Question

Charles,

I read your recent article on the G4 Cube with some interest.I've from time to time given thought to purchasing a Cube but havebeen deterred by the many reports of erratic behavior associatedwith the touch-sensitive power switch. Do you know if Apple hasfixed this problem?

Tnx,
Paul

Hi Paul,

To the best of my knowledge, it has been dealt with.

See below.

Charles

From: John Byrne:

Subject: Cube Lover

Hi,

Thanks for the great little article about the Cube. I have oneof the original units (ordered it the day it was announced!) andwould not trade it for anything. I had the problem with the powerswitch, but Apple fixed that quickly. It's been great eversince.

The G4 Cube is a great design that will be around for a longtime to come.

John Byrne


From Mark Reschke:

Subject: Stride

Hello Charles,

So by the title of your article I read it thinking I will seesome PC Data or IDC information regarding Cube movement in thechannel, or something to this effect regarding Cube sales pickingup. Rather, I get a story about the great entry level Cube priceand some information about a buddy who upgraded to a Cube... Thenthe article gets back on track ending with thoughts about the Cubefinally hitting it's stride. I guess you lost me a bit on thisone...

Regards,
Mark

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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