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Apple's Jobs unveils new iMac, G4 systems

The new product onslaught at Macworld Expo begins, with Apple's announcement of faster Macintosh systems and a public beta for the MacOS 10 operating system.

NEW YORK--Mac enthustiasts looking for new products got plenty as CEO Steve Jobs announced cheaper iMacs, dual-processor Power Macs and a tiny 8-inch cube.

In his keynote at the Macworld Expo here, Jobs announced that beginning today, Apple Computer will start shipping dual-processor G4 systems, which the company touts as the "first personal computers in history to come standard with dual processors."

The new computers will run at 400, 450 and 500 MHz, with the latter two versions boasting the dual processors. Other manufacturers, such as Dell, sell two processor systems, but don't include both chips as a standard feature.

Apple also announced the G4 Cube, a hybrid of the G4 and the iMac. "We have miniaturized all the power of the G4 to make a whole new class of machine," Jobs said.

The Cube will be available in two models, based on 450-MHz or 500-Mhz G4 processors and priced at $1,799 and $2,299, respectively. Apple also introduced three new displays that can be attached to, and powered by, the Cube or a traditional PowerMac.

The 8-inch white Cube was clearly the biggest surprise, even though it had been discussed at several rumor sites. Available in early August through Apple's online store, the Cube can be opened by flipping it upside down and yanking on a pull-out handle. DVDs can be loaded by pushing them into a slot-loaded drive at the top of the machine.

All of Apple's new computers will ship with an extended keyboard and an optical mouse to replace the company's much maligned "hockey puck." To promote the new mouse, Apple handed out the units free to everyone at the keynote. The new keyboard and mouse are available to customers for $59 from Apple's Web site.

In addition, the company announced four new iMac systems, ranging in price from $799 to $1,499 and in earthy new colors such as indigo, ruby, sage and snow. Concurrently, the old fruity colors will be phased out, company executives said.

The one thing Mac fans did not get their hands on was a copy of OS X, Apple's all-new operating system. Jobs said the "public beta" version promised for summer will be available in September.

The final version will come in "early 2001," Jobs said. Apple had previously said the system would become standard in January.

Analyst David Bailey of Gerard Klauer Mattison said that the time frame is acceptable. "In the software world, September is summer," he said.

 What's new
• The Cube, a tiny, midlevel G4-based system.
• Dual-processor G4 systems.
• Four new iMacs, priced at $799, $999, $1,299 and $1,499.
• Earthy new iMac colors such as "indigo," "ruby," "sage" and "snow," which replace the old fruity colors.
• Three new displays: two flat-screen models and a gray CRT.
• An extended keyboard and optical mouse.
At the low end of its line, Apple announced a $799 iMac that will begin shipping in early September. That model, which Jobs hailed as "the best Internet appliance in the world," comes only in indigo, a new darker blue. It sports a 350-MHz processor, 64 MB of RAM, a 7.5-GB hard drive and CD-ROM drive.

Higher up the price scale is the revamped iMac DV, a $999 model that adds FireWire connectivity and Apple's iMovie software. The iMac DV comes in indigo and ruby.

The iMac DV plus adds a DVD player and uses a 450-MHz chip and a 20GB hard drive. It's available in indigo, ruby and sage and sells for $1,299.

At the top of the iMac line is the iMac DV special edition, which has a 500-MHz chip, 128MB of memory and sells for $1,499. It is available in graphite and snow.

All of the new iMacs except the $799 model are available now, Apple said.

As reported, Microsoft Office 2001 for the Macintosh will be available in October, Apple announced today.

To accompany the cube, as well as other iMacs, Apple introduced two new flat-screen displays and a new gray CRT monitor.

All three new monitors contain a single cord that acts as a power cable, monitor and USB connection and plugs into the cube or PowerMac.

Geard Klauer's Bailey said the Cube should appeal more to high-end consumers and small businesses than does Apple's traditional line, which is heavily used by graphics professionals.

"I don't think it's going to cannibalize the current product line," he said.

Bailey was also impressed by Apple's ability to deliver dual-processor PowerMacs for no higher price than its existing single-chip 450-MHz and 500-MHz machines.

"That's awesome," Bailey said. "It gives you significant processor improvement at the same price."