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A sniper's view of the new, not so big Mac

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I could hardly not agree with reader Ian Sutherland McCook of Inverness who chided this column for making snide digs at Apple (Letters, AJ 10.2.05). The Mac commands religio-mystical adoration among the loopier of its users and an air of effortless superiority among the rest that of course encourages the 'sixth-form sniping' of which this column is cheerfully guilty.

On the other hand, Macs are pretty good computers. Without them and the three-dimensional software pioneered on the Mac, we would still be sharpening pencils and shaking rapidographs over our drawing boards. It is also true that the Cube was a design of great beauty but its lack of a fan (on ideological, rather than practical, grounds) meant that many Cube hard drives fritzed themselves. I think it is legitimate to mention that kind of thing in this column; as it is to note that the new and stunningly compact Mac Mini has stunningly ordinary performance until you double the price with upgraded memory, drives, wireless and so on. Then it is a fine machine - but pretty expensive by PC standards.

It is true that Apple is not the only US company that adds a hefty percentage to its UK and European prices just because not enough of us complain. But a company really can't take the high moral computer ground and then behave like any other money-grabbing business. Not without this column trying to increase the weight of complaints.

But look, let me say it on the record.

Most versions of the Mac have been fine computers. Some are also beautifully elegant. Some are just beautifully elegant. These are not things anybody would think of saying about the average PC, some of which are also fine computers. But some Mac users are crazy. Some of them treat the machine as an object of veneration; its boss, Steve Jobs, as the representative on Earth of some computer divinity. Some of them sleep on pavements when a new Apple store opens. Who could resist the odd snide dig at that?sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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