by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor <email@example.com>
Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.
Multimedia capabilities for the masses are at the heart of Apple's new 630 series of Macintosh computers, introduced today. The systems, priced as low as $1,300 according to Apple, are 33 MHz 68040 Macs with sufficient storage capacity (including optional CD-ROM drive) and multimedia options to handle most low-end video and presentation needs.
The new computers will ship in all three of Apple's main product families. The Performa 630 begins shipping in the higher education market today; the Macintosh LC 630, Quadra 630, and consumer-market Performa 630 models will follow on 02-Aug-94. As with previous Performa products, Apple says the Performa 630 series will have varying model numbers (including 635 and 636) to indicate different configurations.
Just to keep things interesting, Apple has designed yet another Macintosh case for the 630 series computers. An Apple representative described it as "a cross between the Quadra 610 and 650 cases." It's narrower than a 650 and a little higher than a 610. The case allows for an unimposing footprint without giving up the space needed for an internal CD-ROM drive. Without giving away any secrets, the representative acknowledged that Apple is likely to use this form factor in some future computer models.
The processor in the 630 series is listed as a 66/33 MHz CPU, using Apple's new strategy of claiming the doubled internal clock rate of the Motorola processors that's been present all along. The Quadra model sports a "full" 68040 (the 68RC040 model), complete with FPU, while the LC and Performa models will use the FPU-less 68LC040. The systems will include 4 MB or more of RAM, expandable to 36 MB, and either a 250 MB or 350 MB hard drive. These models differ from past Macintosh computers with the addition of an infrared remote control sensor and an internal multimedia slot designed to accept one of three new Apple cards.
The Apple Video System, Video/TV System, and Presentation System are expansion cards designed specifically for the new 630 series Macintosh models, intended to allow users to capture video, watch TV in a window, and display presentations on a large-screen TV, respectively.
The Video System, with a published Apple Price of $149, supports simple video input, enabling users to view camcorder or VCR output in a resizable on-screen window. Single-frame capture and QuickTime video sequence capture will be possible, and some configurations will include VideoShop software (from Avid Technology), allowing users to edit video frame by frame and add titles and special effects.
The $249 Video/TV System incorporates the features of the Video System, but adds a TV tuner capability so users can watch television in an on-screen window. (Unlike the Macintosh TV, this tuner capability doesn't take over the entire display area while it's in use.)
At $299, the Apple Presentation System, based on the L-TV Portable Pro from Focus Enhancements, provides video output from the Macintosh suitable for connecting to a television or VCR. This enables Macintosh 630 users to show on-screen presentations to large audiences, or record them on video tape for future use.
The 630 series Macintosh computers also include a communications slot which will support one of three Apple Ethernet cards or a 14,400 bps fax/modem card. This slot is separate from the machines' LC-style processor direct slot, which supports most cards compatible with the Macintosh LC series and Quadra 605, including Apple's PowerPC PDS accelerator card, but not Apple's Apple IIe emulator card.
One way Apple kept costs down is the use of commonly available hard drives with IDE interfaces, rather than SCSI interfaces, for internal storage. The new Macs support SCSI devices, but add the IDE support so Apple can use the much less expensive IDE hard drives. The drives aren't of lower quality, but vastly greater manufacturing quantities have kept IDE drives less expensive than their SCSI counterparts, which are often otherwise identical. This does mean that most third-party disk formatting and recovery programs must be updated before they will work with these internal drives.
With the Quadra 630 4/250 model carrying an Apple Price of $1,279, we expect these machines will be popular entry-level desktop machines even for those who don't need the multimedia capabilities, but do need an internal CD-ROM drive or other expansion possibilities. There's no promise of a PowerPC logic board upgrade down the line, but although we wouldn't be surprised to see one in the future (in addition to the already-available PDS accelerator option), we also acknowledge that PowerPC upgradability isn't critical for many of today's Macintosh users.
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