Properly styled the PowerMac G4 Cube, this is Apple's latest attempt to make us want something we didn't even know we needed. With me, they have succeeded.

The computer is basically a PowerMac G4 packed into a cubic enclosure measuring 8 inches on all sides, or about one quarter the size of the current desktop Macs. This cube is suspended in a clear plastic enclosure which adds about two inches to its height. These extra two inches contain air, which allows the machine to be cooled without a fan. The top of the machine houses the slot of a DVD drive, creating the effect of a high tech toaster.

Many people will deem this contraption beneath their estimation, as it lacks in raw processing power, but the following selling points should not be ignored:

  • Although lacking in brute force, the 450/500 Mhz PowerPC G4 processor holds its own against x86 chips with higher clock rates.
  • The box is outrageously beautiful.
  • It is fiendishly small.
  • It should run very quietly.
  • By turning the machine upside-down and tugging on a handle, you can access the innards of the machine very simply, to add extra memory or storage.
  • You can use it with one of Apple's new displays via a single cable that carries power, video and USB in one, or with a regular VGA display.
  • It comes with a small and stylish pair of speakers.
  • It will, of course, run Linux, and will soon be shipping with a version of BSD (Mac OS X) in any case.

Equally, however, one should be mindful of the following limitations:

  • It has no PCI slots, so you will not be adding SCSI or the like.
  • It is pricey.

All in all, a worthy successor to the NeXT Cube, and something else for me to covet. I will be using this product as a personal incentive to save money over the next year. By that stage, of course, Apple will have introduced cheaper versions for the masses, probably based on G3 chips, so we can all have one!