Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bargain hunting

I needed to get a separate keyboard for my Dell notebook. I find myself using it a lot, but full-time typing on any laptop-style keyboard is a tedious chore. So, since I had a few Staples coupons, I went there last night in search of one.

After looking at some wired keyboards, I decided to go wireless. There was a shelf talker advertising the Logitech Cordless MX Duo (keyboard and mouse set) for $59 - regular price $99, sale price $79, plus a $20 rebate. I had a coupon for an extra $10, so I picked that set. Turned out the rebate had ended, but since the talker was still out there they just marked it down and gave me the price anyways. With the coupon, the Staples business rewards card, and the business Amex I paid it cost less than $50 - more than half off. A very good value, indeed.

Apple updated the eMac this morning. Now, for $999, you can get a CRT-based Mac that has almost the same specs as the $1799 LCD iMac - the only difference is that the iMac includes nicer speakers and a video card with more VRAM on it. You get the same sized hard drive(80GB), the same speed processor (1.25GHz), the same amount of DDR333 memory (256MB), and the same DVD/CD recording drive. And expansion is easier, because both memory slots are accessible on the eMac whereas only one slot is accessible on the iMac - and the user slot on the iMac uses pricier laptop SO-DIMMs. There's also a $799 eMac config that subs a Combo drive and cuts the 80GB HD down to 40GB.

Given how the eMac now stacks up, I suspect that means the long-awaited iMac refresh is almost upon us. I would expect a moderately changed form factor, and either a faster G4 (models are available up to 1.5 GHz now) or a low-end G5 from IBM's new 90nm fab line. Probably at best 1.8 GHz if that's the case. That indicates that the other long-awaited refresh should be here shortly as well - the PowerMac G5 speedbump. Depending on IBM's chip yields, expect the top-end dually to be between 2.5 GHz and 3 GHz. Once Apple starts the refresh engine going like they did today, the rest of the shoe drops over the next month or so. Figure all the current announcements will be done by late May.

I won't prognosticate on the topic of laptops yet - too many questions in the low-power chip area. I counldn't guess when , but I think we'll see at best some minor G4 speed boosts to tide folks over until the G5 is running at a high enough speed with a low enough power draw.

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