Mac Notes
Leader of the Pack

By Jeffrey Allen


How does a computer company follow up its own act after bringing the world a sleek, lightweight, high-powered, premium-quality laptop computer with a truly magnificent 17” screen? Well, if that company is Apple, the answer is simple: Introduce the G-5. Apple has announced and released the next generation of computers.

The newest iteration of the PowerMac comes in three basic configurations: Amazing, Really Amazing, and Blow Your Socks Off! (No, Apple is not officially calling them by those names, but wait till I tell you some of the specs on these things). The low-end G5 has a $1,999 base price and comes with the G-5 processor working at 1.6 GHz. and an 80 GB hard disk. The next step up costs you $400 more, for which you get a G-5 running at 1.8 GHz and a 160 GB hard disk. The top of the line goes for $2,999. That gets you a dual processor G-5 running at 2 GHz with a 160 GB hard disk drive. All three computers include a 512K L-2 cache and Apple’s SuperDrive (CD/DVD-R/W/). The computers all include built-in gigabit Ethernet, a built-in 56K modem, USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 ports. All are Airport Extreme (802.11g wireless) and Bluetooth ready.

At first blush, the processor clock speeds offered by these three new machines seem moderately impressive by comparison to the speed of Apples current crop of G4 processors, but not outstanding by comparison to the speeds of regularly advertised machines on the Windows platform. But, there is more to the G-5 than the mere clock speed. In the G-5, Apple offers the first true 64-Bit processor for a personal computer. So, what we have is a 64 Bit processor running at 2.0 GHz that will substantially outperform a 32 Bit processor running at better than 3 GHz. Apple has done some comparative testing and posted the results on its website. I have included an example of the results below. For further results, go to: www.apple.com/powermac/performance/. Apple has set up several “White Papers” detailing the capabilities of the PowerPC G5 Processor and the PowerMac G5 computer that it powers. Those reports include more detailed information comparing performance and features of the G5 both to the G4 processor and to Pentium IV processors running at 3GHz.

So, bottom line, what does all this really mean? Simply put, the 64-bit processor allows the G5 to take bigger gulps of information (kind of like broadband for information processing). That ability allows the computer to process greater quantities of information in less time, even though it may run at a lower nominal clock speed. By way of comparison, if you have a large office full of furniture and you have to move it to a new office a few miles down the road, you will get it there much faster packing it into a large moving van that will travel at 45 miles per hour than you will by trying to move it with a minivan that will travel at 65 miles per hour. The G5 brings more speed and power to desktop computing than desktop computing has ever had before.

Does this mean that we should all rush out and buy G5’s? No. Some users will immediately see noticeable benefits from upgrading to the G5. Scientific research and graphics production and rendering will likely see the most immediate benefit from an upgrade. Unless you are heavily into graphics production, most of the tasks attorneys use computers for will not see substantial improvement initially. Improvement from the G5 for those of us not into scientific research and graphics will likely come in the next year or so as software vendors start creating code that takes advantage of the G5’s power.

The rest of us may see some immediate benefit as the G5 will handle both 64 bit and 32 bit code in native mode, so that the G5 should run most, if not all of your current Mac applications just fine while you wait for the 64 bit versions to come out.

Being a practical kind of person, my recommendation for most of you is that you ogle the G5 at your local Apple Store and/or on the Internet at Apple’s On-Line store, but that you defer the purchase of one until at least next year. Why do I say that? First, unless you use a lot of graphics software, you will not likely see a significant improvement over the G4 for a while. Second, Apple has a major renovation of OS X in the works. It should come out during the last quarter of 2003. Some time, relatively shortly after it appears, Apple, if it follows true to form, will include the new system with its new computers and sell the upgrade to everyone else. Third, the G4 computers currently on the market offer considerable power and speed. For the next few years they should work just fine for law office applications. Because of the introduction of the G5 computers, expect further price reductions on the G4 computers. You will quite probably be able to get a really good buy on a G4, so, even if you are thinking about getting a new computer, you might want to save some money and get a new G4.


Jeffrey Allen (jallenlawtek@aol.com) has a general practice in Oakland, California. His firm, Graves & Allen, emphasizes real estate and business transactions and litigation. He is a frequent speaker and author on technology topics and the Editor-in-Chief of the
GPSolo Technology & Practice Guide and the Technology eReport.

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