Apple Computer has released few details regarding its forthcoming PC killer, and if history is any guide the company will aim to surprise.
Beyond anticipating novelty, readers debated whether Apple should continue the iMac tradition of an all-in-one design or offer a separate monitor for greater flexibility.
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A few suggested doing away with the pedestal and slipping the computer's guts in behind a flat-panel screen; others called for a return to Apple's failed cube design and a separate monitor; while one reader pondered the possibilities of a detachable tablet-style screen.
"People wouldn't *have* to stick to a single size of display. Businesses could more easily justify them as alternatives to virus-prone Windows boxes," wrote Jonathan Fingas in favor of a modular approach.
Others pointed out that the guessing game has been going on for a while, linking to mock-ups posted on an Apple community site.
Word from one Apple insider adds credence to some of these unsubstantiated musings: "Imagine combining the G5 and the Cinema display, and that should give you a pretty good idea" of what the new machine will look like, a source told CNET News.com recently, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Theis due in September, but Apple has so far declined to say what shape it will take. One thing's for sure, though: The company has a reputation to live up to. The current iMac, which , looked like no other computer before it, with a flat-screen display on a swivel arm riding above a half-moon base.
Apple has garnered attention for other designs as well, from the original Macintosh to the Newton PDA to today's zeitgeist gadget, the iPod digital music player. Often the response has been in the form of applause, but there have been catcalls, too, over the years.
As for what the upcoming iMac should look like,has ranged from requests for specific features to praise for Apple's previous efforts.
"The all-in-one in education, K-12, should no longer be the only option from Apple," commented a Michael Theochares. "The cost of repairing/replacing the monitor for these outweighs the benefits."
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But more than one reader noted that looking pretty won't be enough to help the company, whose share of the PC market is miniscule.
"Apple needs to compete. Enough of this laid back, whatever type attitude. If they are going to remain a computer company (Which I'm starting to question what with Apple seriously focusing on Music and the iPod.) they need to kick some butt," writes a reader identified as John Doe.
"They need to put more money into the quality and performance of their computers and lower the price. Don't waste time on some cutsey looking PC, get a PC for it's functionality and performance," noted Robert King.
Of course, comments like that predictably prompted shouts from Mac loyalists that "time and time again the computer industry looks to Apple for the next idea or look" of the personal computer, as one reader put it.
There was also some debate as to whether Apple would even go forward with a new iMac, or instead simply focus onand associated models.
"They will definitely be G5, or will offer G5, possibly dual," wrote one reader.
"Apple needs three product lines, for both desktop and notebook computers. The entry level, all-in-one desktop coupled with a basic notebook (iMac); the powerful, professional desktop and notebook (PowerMac/Book); AND a midrange pair that look funky and do things that few other computers can," wrote Bc Saxman.
Reader Sundar Ranganathan agreed with the notion that Apple should stick to several product lines, with different family members in mind.
The new iMac, Ranganathan wrote, would be similar to the existing models except that it would have a wireless keyboard and mice and a wall-hangable display with TV tuner and S-video inputs. "Moms can hang this in the kitchen, watch TV, listen to music using itunes; kids can play silly games and dance to beats etc.; There would be a slot load DVD+-R/RW on the side of the LCD. in other words this time it would be "dump the dome!!"
CNET News.com's Evan Hansen contributed to this report.