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Apple's iMac is the darling of trade show


Apple's latest consumer product, the futuristic-looking iMac, is set to ship Aug. 15, and was in the spotlight at this week's Macworld trade show.

Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and chief executive, answered much of the negative press that's been aimed at the iMac since its May 6 unveiling. He also announced the company was on track for its third-consecutive profitable quarter. Official end-of-quarter results are due this week.

Apple sales are strong, he said, with demand outstripping the supply of its new Powerbook G3 laptop computers. The company has sold more than 750,000 of its Macintosh G3, its high-end, high-performance desktop model.

The iMac is aimed at consumers, with a price about the same as an entry-level PC. At its unveiling, the iMac was criticized because it had no removable storage -- it lacked a floppy or Zip drive -- and the only connections to the machine were a built-in Ethernet connection or the built-in modem.

The iMac uses the new USB hardware buss, which -- in theory -- will make connecting external hardware a breeze. Critics also questioned the lack of longtime Mac-standard SCSI and printer ports on the new iMac.

Jobs put critics' claims to rest with an announcement that a plethora of USB-compatible peripherals will be soon available.

Iomega is releasing a redesigned line of USB-compatible Zip storage drives; iMation is following suit with a USB version of its popular SuperDrive; Syquest will have a 1GB SparQ drive; printers and other peripherals will be coming from the likes of Canon, Epson, HP, Kodak and more.

The iMac is Apple's ticket to greater market share by going head-to-head against Intel-based consumer PCs, Jobs told show attendees.

The iMac uses a PowerPC microprocessor, and handles computer tasks at speeds faster than Pentium II-based PCs.

For more information, visit Apple's Web site at www.apple.com.

ZIP-ITY DOO-DAH. Iomega announced last week it had shipped its 15-millionth Zip drive.

The popular 100-Megabyte drives have become standard equipment in many offices, particular in graphic design and publishing circles.

To celebrate this achievement, Iomega is inviting customers to download its new RecordIt software from its Web site at www.iomega.com.

RecordIt turns your PC and Zip drive into a digital audio recorder. A 100 Meg Zip disk can hold 55 minutes of near-CD quality music, or more than eight hours of voice recording.

Visit their Web site for details on downloading the free application.

READERS REPLY. My query about upgrading to Microsoft's Windows 98 brought responses that reflect a predominant "maybe-later-but-not-until-I-need-to" attitude among readers.

"I will not be upgrading to Win98 till they release a version that works just as well without Internet Explorer(because I like my desktop as is)," writes a reader who signed himself as Ghosthawk. "I have tried IE 4.0 and hated it.

"I used IE 3.0 from my start surfing the Net. After 4.0 I tried Netscape and liked it ... been using Netscape since, even did my first Web site with Netscape. I am not against upgrading, however I want the freedom to chose my Web browser and not have one shoved on me."

Users of 56k modems replying to a recent column seem to share one common experience -- none are getting connections anywhere near 56k.

But none had any complaints about their modems, since the connections they are getting are consistently better than connection speeds using slower 33.6k or 28.8k modems.

Bruce England writes that his Macintosh G3 came equipped with a 56k modem when he bought it last winter.

"The most I've ever seen it do is 44k; most of the time I connect at 42k," he writes. "At first, compared to my old 28.8k modem, it seemed the system was flying. Now that I'm used to that speed, I'm ready to doze off before pages download."

Modem users from the pre-Internet days of computers will remember when 9600, and later 14.4k modems were declared "the fastest speeds attainable" over telephone lines. While FCC rules limit speeds to 53k, I expect it won't be long before technology pushes the cyber speed limit once again. And like the early days of 56k technology, it likely won't be cheap.

It calls to mind a sign that used to hang in Redd's Automotive, a Louisville auto parts store back in the mid-1970s: "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?"

READER POLL. With Steve Jobs' work to revitalize Apple Computer -- the company he helped start -- its future looks much better than it did just one year ago.

Would you be willing to give up your PC for one of the new iMac or G3 computers from the new-and-improved Apple?

Or if you're a longtime Mac addict, do you think the iMac will help Apple take back market share it's lost in the past couple of years? Send your predictions to the e-mail address below for review in a future column.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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