The G3 All-In-One is the strangest of the G3s, and probably one of the oddest computers that Apple has made in a while. The AIO is based on the same motherboard as the beige desktop and mini-tower G3, but has an internal monitor, a built in floppy and CD-ROM drives, as well as an optional internal Zip drive. It is the first desktop Mac to use translucent plastics (The E-Mate and Newton used colore translucent plastic).
Available only to the educational market in North America, from March 31, 1998 – October 17, 1998, this computer provides a good idea of what the iMac could have been, had it cost considerably more, and had such novel things as PCI expansion slots and removable rewritable disk drives.
The specs are as follows: (note that these are as shipped – of course, upgrades are available)
- 233 or 266 mhz ZIF G3 (many third party upgrades are available)
- 3 10ns 168 pin SDRAM slots –32 mb standard, 768 mb max.
- 2 mb Video EDO SGRAM standard, 6 mb max (1024 x 768, millions of colors, max.)
- 3 PCI expansion slots
- 1 Comm Slot (for optional 56k modem)
- 24x EIDE CD-ROM
- 4 GB EIDE hard drive
- 1.44 mb floppy
- 100 mb SCSI Zip drive
- internal speakers
- ATI 3D Rage II+ video card, or, for models made after May 1, ATI Rage Pro
- either audio I/O card, with RCA I/O, or the Wings AV card, only available in the 266 mhz version, with:
The design of the computer, other than the weight (60 pounds), the topheaviness, and the size (20 x 16 x 18 inches, which makes it difficult for people with shorter arms to pick up), is excellent. The screen is good, and the internal speakers are surprisingly good. The general configuration is good, and easy to expand – the motherboard and drives just slide out in a single unit, like a file drawer. However, the standard, 233 mhz. version, without a Zip drive or the Wings AV card, is of little merit.
The 266 mhz version seems more worthy of tinkering and adding to. With the ability to edit decent quality video, the AIO was a good deal, at about $2000, when it was first released. Apple states that it can only digitize 15 fps, 640 x 480, 24 bit, or 30 fps at a lower resolution. With 768 mb of ram in the AIO, I have been able to import at 30fps, 640 x 480, 24 bit, for at least four minutes at a time. (It is probably possible to import longer clips, but I have not tried to.) Other G3 AIO owners have confirmed this. For the time, and even now, the AIO is a decent cheap editing box.
In the AIOs manufactured near the end of the of the production, the third revision of the G3 ROM chip is used, allowing for 2 EIDE drives per drive chain. On these computers, it would be possible to install a second hard drive, or a 250 mb Zip drive, to replace the original 100 mb SCSI one – there are two EIDE drive chains, one for the hard drive, and one for the CD-ROM.
There are some problems with the AIO. The internal monitor is about impossible to get out, to replace. The Comm Slot modems now sell for about $100, on eBay, if you can find one. The fan is rather loud. And there are the complaints mentioned above.
Given everything noted above, for the right person, the AIO is one of the best desktops Apple has every manufactured, far better than the iMac. I have a 266 mhz model with a Zip drive and the Wings AV card, built on August 14, 1998, near the end of the production run, and I like it more than anything else Apple has offered since. I have upgraded it considerably, adding a CDRW, maxing out the ram and vram, adding a 60 gb hard drive, and adding a PCI USB card. I will probably add a G4 upgrade at sometime in the next year or two – when the screen dies, I will replace it with an LCD.
Perhaps it is a little silly to be putting all this money into a four year old computer. But until Apple makes a computer that I can actually use, I am sticking with this one.