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New poll on Mac 'clones' posted
Authored by: houchin on Apr 18, '08 08:09:33AM

I voted "if Apple makes it legal," but my true feelings are more complex than that. I have the benefit of having owned an actual Mac clone back in the PowerComputing/Umax days.

It wasn't that I didn't want an Apple Mac, but that the systems at that time were either too consumer centric (the Performas) or overpriced. I really did want to buy an Apple Mac, but couldn't afford it.

At that time, I had purchased a build-to-order PowerComputing system. Right out of the gate, that system had multiple, significant problems. The mouse didn't work, the internal Jaz and Zip drives didn't work, ... PowerComputing fixed some of the problems, even going to the trouble to send someone to replace the motherboard and extending my period for returning the system. After about 2 months of this, I got fed up and sent the system back, replacing it with a Umax J700.

I had to get external Jaz and Zip drives for the Umax, but otherwise I loved that system. Primarily, because it was easily upgradable. There were really only two 3rd party extensions required, one for the CPU clocking, and one for the CD-ROM drive. Thankfully, there was a well known hack to make the Apple CD driver work with the 3rd party CD, and once applied that worked flawlessly. Plus the CPU extension was well supported, and also worked with Apple Macs if you upgraded the CPU's in them.

I don't really want to build my own system. I like the stability of my Mac, which I agree is due at least in part because of the limited kernel extensions and drivers. However, I fall squarely in the boat with everyone else that wants a MiniTower.

When I replaced the Umax with a PowerMac G5, it was a very painful decision. I had a 21" CRT monitor on the Umax, which still worked perfectly fine, and thus didn't want to pay the iMac tax of the built-in monitor. But I didn't need all the power of the G5. Ultimately, I got the G5 because the Dual 1.8Ghz was about the same cost as the iMac, and to this day I'm still using that now 10 year old CRT.

I have made some upgrades to the G5. The original HD died, so when I replaced it I put in a second drive as well, and now have automated backups running every night. I also have some additional external drives, which I guess I would have preferred to be internal. I've also upgraded the internal memory. But even with those upgrades, I would have been just as well off with a mini-tower or desktop Mac.

The worst thing about my setup is all of the external devices: Memory card reader, iSight, external drives, iPod dock; it's a jumble of wires down there, and I really wish I didn't have all those wires for my 3 year old to get wrapped up in when he crawls under the desk.

What I'm not interested in is a barebones Mac that goes for low cost above all. On the laptop end, the MacBook is just about what I'd want for a low cost laptop. The only thing I'd add is a memory card reader or ability to add an ExpressCard reader, thus making the reader in effect "internal."

But on the desktop end, I really wish Apple would listen to everyone clamoring for a mid-performance system that doesn't have an all-in-one monitor. We have the MacBook and the Mac Pro, so how about just "the Mac."

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