My Turn

Quicksilver's Fatal Flaw

Andrew W. Hill - 2001.08.01

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

My most esteemed colleague Eric Schwarz recently published an article on his views of the keynote (isn't everyone) entitled Is Apple to Blame or Not? One point he raises deserves further discussion. This is at the point where he says:

People are complaining now about the G4 using the same basic case as its predecessor and the Blue and White G3. What's wrong with that?

As an owner of a Blue G3, I say "plenty." As far as I'm concerned, that form factor has a serious design flaw - the second forward facing bay. This is a 3.5" third-height forward facing bay. I know of exactly three devices that will fit in there: Iomega Zip, Iomega Jaz, and an internal hard disk. DATs, magneto-optical drives, CD drives, and Syquest drives are all half height. The latter two (and some MO drives) are 5.25" as well.

The new G4s with the internal CD-RW have a major disability over your average Hewlett-Packard box in that duplicating a CD is that much more complicated. The new G4 case looks like it can have a 5.25" drive there, but on inspection of the internals it is found that the installation of such a drive would not be for the faint-hearted.

Personally I'm not a fan of the location of the drive bays either, but you can't win them all. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the 8600 -> Beige G3 minitower case around longer than it was. DayStar GenesisEverything was easy to install: RAM, PCI cards, and drives. The DayStar Genesis had a great case except for its huge size. Two external 5.25" half height bays were present, so you could have a CD-ROM and a CD-R, or a big magneto-optical or even a tape or Zip drive. In addition, there was space for six hard disk on sideways slideout trays. It's a pleasure to work in, but not to move. (The Genesis weighs 50 pounds!)

Eric mentions the IIcx and SE cases as examples of long-lived cases. Both, however, were retired when they could no longer fulfill their function. Neither case had the space for a CD-ROM, which wasn't important when the machines came out, but after a while 500 Seriesbecame more and more common. The LC500 series provided what the original compacts couldn't: a CD-ROM and a big color display. Likewise, the IIvx provided the CD-ROM that the IIcx case couldn't house. Both of the replacement cases lasted for many years - through to the 5400 and 7100, respectively. The 7100 then had the shortcoming that it couldn't handle an internal Zip drive (and it was a PITA to install RAM) and was replaced by the 7500 case, which progressed for several years until the Blue G3 replaced the Beige G3.

I'd like to draw this parallel to the Blue G3. When the Blue G3 was released (1999), CD-RW drives weren't overly common in the consumer market. Apple finally released internal CD-RW drives with their G4s, but they offered no way to easily duplicate CDs. Sure, Toast 5 will do that for you, but it involves switching CDs and such. Its just not the same.

The time has come to supercede the old case with one that supports multiple CD-ROM drives. Quicksilver is not the answer. Sure, it looks nice on the outside, and I'm all for pretty cases, but unless it's matched with fitting internal design, it's nothing but a waste.

Andrew W. Hill (a.k.a. Aqua) has been using Macintosh computers since 1987 and maintains that the Mac SE is the perfect Macintosh, superior to all - including the Color Classic. He is on the verge of being evicted from the family home due to its infestation of Macs (last count: about 50). Andrew is attempting to pay his way through college at UC Santa Cruz with freelance web design and Mac tech support.

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