Time’s Gadget of the Week: Apple’s iMac G5 with Front Row and built-in iSight camera

“With all of the excitement surrounding Apple’s video-capable iPod, and the iTunes Music Store’s $2 TV-show downloads, it was easy to miss the third, albeit smaller, piece of the pie: the iMac G5 with remote control,” Wilson Rothman writes for Time Magazine. “The computer is the respectable work of engineering you might expect: a tad trimmer than the last iMac, this one has a faster G5 processor, faster RAM, a souped-up graphics card and up to 500MB [sic] of internal hard disk storage. It has all of that plus a built-in iSight camera.”

“The main attraction—and the reason for the remote—is called Front Row. By tapping the remote’s ‘Menu’ button, the computer’s screen switches from the familiar OS X desktop to a black backdrop with four oversized but recognizable icons [that] launch different, simple-to-use applications covering four basic media types: video files (even ones you buy over iTunes), still images, song files and DVDs, respectively,” Rothman writes.

“Right about now, fans of Microsoft’s Windows Media Center Edition are saying, ‘Big deal—Windows PCs have shipped with remotes to manage all of the above, plus true television recording, for years,” Rothman writes.

Rothman then drops this bomb: “There’s no escaping the fact that Apple, as usual, is following someone else.”

“But even fans of the Media Center PC know that it hasn’t taken off like wildfire, and there are plenty of reasons. The biggest, I feel, is that digital TV from cable or satellite providers makes the recording process a bit complicated, and when you throw in new high-definition cable and satellite channels, it gets downright impossible. There are solutions to these frustrations on the way, but for now they stand as frustrations. It’s no surprise, then, that Apple steered way clear of that mess,” Rothman writes. “Under the Videos icon, you can select Movie Trailers, and get access to high-resolution sneak previews that look and sound incredible, but are streamed from Apple’s servers. If the company were to give us even just three or four times the TV programming that it currently offers with iTunes, and let us get at it with the remote like a movie trailer, they’ll never hear the end of the cash register’s cha-ching.”

Full article here.

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MacDailyNews Take: Wilson Rothman is an idiot. See his nonsensical article about RealNetwork’s Rhapsody for further proof here. By writing, “Apple, as usual, is following someone else,” Wilson shows a complete lack of historical knowledge. In the case of Front Row, you might be able to get away with stating something like, “in this case, Apple is following someone else,” but, even then, you’d be wrong, because Apple is clearly doing their own thing and are obviously headed down a different track towards the digital hub. Microsoft’s not even on a track, they just waste their time trying to make a TV tuner and TiVo replacement in a PC. It was Steve Jobs who coined the phrase “digital hub,” by the way.

Apple, as usual, is leading the world. As they have for decades. Apple is the company who invented or popularized the graphical user interface, mouse, menus, controls, windows, desktop metaphor, the 3.5″ floppy (brought it into the world and then took it out, apologies to Bill Cosby), LaserWriter printer, Hypercard (precursor to the Web), the layout of portable computers’ keyboards and pointer controls, the PDA, Wi-Fi, and so many hundreds of other examples, it would be ridiculous to list. In fact, it’s boring, because Rothman is so wrong it’s not even fun. (Here’s just one list of Apple innovations that covers 1981-1999 that starts to give you some idea of how Apple has consistently lead everyone else into the future. Rothman ought to read it.) The entire world uses personal computers based upon Apple’s Macintosh, including whichever one Rothman uses to bang out stupid statements.

Let’s quote Newsweek, instead of Time, “In 1984, a youthful Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh and changed personal computers forever. More than a few reviewers also suggested that users would soon tire of ‘cute icons’ like the trash can, as well as clicking and dragging to move files. Computer magazine columnists argued that ‘command line’ prompts typing in cryptic phrases like ‘del c:/files/story.doc’ were more direct than dragging and dropping a file into the trash can. As this article (original Newsweek article from Jan 30, 1984) made clear, there was an infectious and inspirational spirit behind the birth of the Macintosh, which has lasted to this day as does the continuing chorus of industry doubters predicting trouble for Apple. At least some things in the computer industry never seem to change,” wrote Michael Rogers for Newsweek in March 2003. Full article here.

Related articles:
PC Magazine review gives Apple’s new iMac G5 with Front Row 4.5 out of 5 stars – November 04, 2005
Mac enthusiast Web site offers Front Row, Photo Booth to all Mac users – November 01, 2005
Apple’s brilliant, deceptively simple Front Row software has a bright future and raises questions – October 28, 2005
Apple’s Front Row hits torrent sites, video showing application running on Mac mini – October 25, 2005
NY Times’ Pogue: Apple’s iMac G5 with sleek, virus-free, spyware-free OS earns place in living room – October 20, 2005
Analyst: ‘media companies will call Apple to strike deals, Front Row is Media Center done right’ – October 12, 2005
Apple’s new iMac G5, iTunes 6, iPod video designed to bait Hollywood – October 13, 2005
Apple’s Front Row with Apple Remote and iMac G5: media center done right – October 12, 2005
Apple’s Front Row with Apple Remote and iMac G5: media center done right – October 12, 2005
Apple introduces new thinner iMac G5 with built-in iSight video camera, ‘Front Row’ media experience – October 12, 2005
Thurrott: many of Windows Vista’s upcoming features appeared first in Apple’s Mac OS X – September 26, 2005
Microsoft’s Ballmer: It’s true, some of Windows Vista’s features are ‘kissing cousins’ to Mac OS X – September 19, 2005
PC World: Microsoft innovation – an oxymoron – September 15, 2005
Microsoft debuts Dashboard Widgets, er, ‘Microsoft Gadgets’ – September 13, 2005
Apple to unleash Leopard on Microsoft’s Windows Longhorn; Mac OS X 10.5 due late 2006 – early 2007 – June 07, 2005
Thurrott: Longhorn demos ‘unimpressive, fall short of graphical excellence found today in Mac OS X’ – April 26, 2005
eWEEK Editor Coursey: Longhorn so far ‘looks shockingly like a Macintosh’ – April 25, 2005
Due in late 2006, many of Windows Longhorn’s features have been in Mac OS X since 2001 – April 25, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Microsoft’s Longhorn: ‘They are shamelessly copying us’ – April 21, 2005
Microsoft’s Windows Longhorn will bear more than just a passing resemblance to Apple’s Mac OS X – April 15, 2005
The Age: ‘Apple’s Mac OS X at least a generation ahead of Windows XP, iMac G5 clearly the best’ – December 15, 2004
Silicon Valley: Apple CEO Steve Jobs previews ‘Longhorn’ – June 29, 2004
Apple CEO Steve Jobs: Mac OS X Tiger ‘is going to drive the copycats crazy – June 28, 2004
Apple takes dead aim at Microsoft, ‘Longhorn’ with WWDC Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’ ads – June 28, 2004
PC Magazine: Microsoft ‘Longhorn’ preview shows ‘an Apple look’ – May 06, 2004
Apple leads; Wintel follows as usual – November 11, 2002


  1. deedubya,

    A handful of examples do not equate to the Mac. The Mac alone led the world and changed the PC industry completely. Even if Apple had stopped with just the original Mac, their leadership could not be questioned. Apple leads. The rest follow. As usual.

  2. “Apple was late to:

    The MP3 player
    late with multi button mouse
    Late, and waiting, to record TV to a computer”

    Um, no, As we have seen over and over, Apple only does something if it can be done the right way. They arent interested in shipping a ‘me too’ turd like everyone else who are currently eating their dust. If you mean “late” as in not being able to spot a technology trend, then you are dead wrong. If you mean “late” as in they took their time to get it right, or do it the way they wanted to, then you are right. I think you don’t understand the part about them doing it right even if it takes more time.

    Remember the iTunes Music Store was in development for over 2 years. Everyone who rushed their product out right afterward have already shut their doors or are failing miserably. Argument over. End of story.

    Get a clue.

  3. Well, I myself could care less who’s first to market. I only care who ultimately offers the best product(s) for me. That said, it’s fine by me if Apple is methodical and studious of the experiences of others (read: not first) in their approach to bringing out and marketing product. No problem. Early or late .. if Apple is the one who ultimately gets it right .. that’s what counts.

  4. Speaking of following and digital hubs. Remember just one week after I announced the concept of the computer becoming the digital hub in the home? Bill Gates used my exact words to describe what he was doing! Yep, “digital hub” came out of his mouth, ironically sounding like he had made it up!

    Only his stuff was months away from seeing the light of day at the time.

    Who is following whom?

  5. And then MDN dropped this bombshell:


    and justified it with an earlier example of Rothman’s “work,” plus arguments and a link to David K. Every’s legacy site that all prove without a shadow of a doubt that he is NOT an idiot.

    No sir.

    He is, in fact, a COMPLETE FUKCING MORON.

    If the magazine [TIME] were to replace its clueless journalists with others sporting a working brain [Every, for example, would never make a mistake of getting something so completely wrong], they’ll never hear the end of the cash register’s cha-ching.

    So how about it, TIME? Give Every a call.

  6. Being too early with an idea that flops is a bigger mistake than launching one later with a product that delivers and sells.

    I agree he must be a complete idiot because something as obvious as the concept of the ‘Front Row’ media interface can’t be put down to anyone ‘copying’ or ‘following’.

    And, for a company so universally recognized for its innovation, it’s a touch crass to put them into the MS ‘copying’ category.

    I can hear the laughter in Cupertino from England.

  7. MDN, stop foaming at the mouth, you’re starting to embarass yourselves. Apple makes wonderful, innovative tools that compliment and even enhance one’s life, but we’re not talking about a cure for world hunger or spiritual salvation here. They’re PRODUCTS.

    Go out and get some fresh air or something.

  8. Guess what I discovered right now:

    Just google for a very basic word “Computer” and guess whats the first hit? ……….


    (True inventors)

    MDN word: lost
    As Microsoft lost it’s way along the path of invention

  9. i find it amusing that Apple is considered ‘late to the party’

    oh and what a party it is.. Paul Thurrott and a 2L of Mountain Dew, sitting around his HP Media Center.

    Nice to see Apple has their priorities in check, spearheading such a tepid market would have been nothing to brag about. Instead they revolutionized the music industry.

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