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New Mac Pro: Insanely cool or too cool?

Simon Jary | July 3, 2013
Apple swaps the failed cube for a shiny black tube.

Again it was too expensive for most people — $200 more than the more powerfulm and expandable tower. It looked like a luxury - something you aspired to but ended up buying the cheaper, more capable alternative. See: Insanely bad Apple.

The new Mac Pro might well suffer the same fate — except there's no real alternative.

Like the Cube the Mac Pro is a study in cool, and very small compared to the old tower. The old Mac Pro was 20 inches tall and 19 inches deep. The new Darth Vader model is half as high and just 6.6 inches in diameter - in total about an eighth of the size of its predecessor.

Shape is key, too. The Cube looked like no other computer, and neither does the cylindrical Pro. The Pro is more tube than cube. Post Steve Jobs the cube is now just too square to be cool. It has been compared to a wastebin, but that didn't stop the world gasping when seeing it for the first time. It also looks rather like a D-Link wireless router.

Apple hasn't entirely done with the cube. The new Apple AirPort Time Capsule, reviewed, is a tall cuboid with rounded corners.

Apple hasn't announced the Mac Pro price yet, but you can be sure that it won't be cheap. And like the TAM and the Cube it's barely expandable. Components such as motherboards and expansion cards are rectangular, and squeezing these into a tiny cylinder is even harder than forcing them into a cube.

The Mac Pro is aimed at creative professionals, and they're going to have to fork out on multiple external expansions, such as large Thunderbolt hard disks and an optical drive - which add to the expense and rather detract from the Pro's good looks. What's the point of a black beauty if its wired like a hospital patient to a host of aluminium peripherals?

The term desktop is a bit of a misnomer as most towers are kept under the desk. You can break your toes on the current Mac Pro. The new Pro is so small you could kick it and it would roll to the other end of the room, or at least as far as the trailing Thunderbolt cables will allow it.

Apple is often accused of creating products that sacrifice function for form, and I fear the Mac Pro will suffer like the Cube. Creative people like cool products probably more than the next Mac fan but most don't have bank accounts stuffed full of cash like Apple.

The G4 Cube was immediately installed in the New York Museum of Modern Art, and I expect they'll be ordering a Mac Pro to go right beside it. It will win a legion of design awards for sure, but I'm not convinced designers will award themselves with one unless Apple is uncharacteristically lenient on the pricing.

Now that would be cool.

 

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