Exclusive! Hands on with the Apple Power Macintosh 6200 - Macenstein

Exclusive! Hands on with the Apple Power Macintosh 6200

Posted by Igor

As a technology reviewer, it is truly rare that I come across an Apple product that literally stops me in my tracks. For the most part, even “revolutionary” new products from Apple, like the iPod Nano, seem impressive until you realize all they really did was shrink the iPod photo, reduce it’s storage and features, and up it’s price. This is not to say it is not a drool-worthy piece of technology, however it’s a move that (when you think about it) was eventually going to happen. Evolution, not revolution.

That is why I was truly blown away when I came across Apple’s new model, the Power Macintosh 6200. EVERYTHING, and I do mean EVERYTHING about this Mac is a radical departure from the current Apple desktop offerings. In fact, even the marketing strategy Apple is employing on this piece of hardware sets it apart. Gone are the flashy commercials with dancing silhouetted people, the huge booths shrouded in black tapestries at the Macworld Expos. This is such a low key release that I might have missed it had I not been helping a friend of mine throw out a couch at the local dump.

I found the Power Macintosh 6200 half-buried beneath a broken toaster oven and a record player. This would seem to be the worst method of marketing a product, and I was quick to question Apple’s strategy here. “How does Apple expect to sell these without advertising and when you have to physically move garbage to get them?” I wondered. My friend was quick to point out that there was apparently only one left, so Apple must know something about moving product.

We asked the salesman what it cost, and here is where Apple has perhaps made it’s most radical move in years. Are you sitting down? The 6200 is FREE. That’s right, FREE. We couldn’t believe it. Following the example set by the Mac mini, the Power Macintosh 6200 seems to ship without a monitor, mouse, or keyboard, but even without those accessories, the price can’t be beat. We bombarded the rep with questions. “How can Apple make money this way?” ” Is it switching to a software based business model, like Microsoft? ” “Do they hope to make their money off increased sales of Final Cut Pro and other professional apps by flooding the market with free hardware? ”

He was a nice enough man, but honestly seemed to have no real understanding of the product, ( a far cry from the knowledgeable sales staff at the Apple Store ) so we just confirmed again that yes, this really WAS free, and loaded it into the truck.

As I stated before, the Power Macintosh 6200 is truly revolutionary, and a total departure from Apple’s past offerings in every way. However, there is no mistaking that it is indeed a TRUE Apple computer ( not that anyone would! ). The first thing you notice when examining the machine is the Apple logo. However, even THAT has been changed for this model. No longer are we stuck with the drab gray on gray tones of the Apple “apple” logo. The Power Macintosh 6200 sports a bright, almost whimsical “rainbow” colored Apple logo. While a far cry from the jolly, candy-like colors of the CRT iMacs of old, this is perhaps our first glimpse into what may be a return to more colorful designs in future Apple products.

It seems Mr. Ives has not been content to sit back and let the industry catch up to his latest PowerMac designs. For this release, Apple engineers have turned the G5 on it’s ear. Literally. This PowerMac lays on it side, as opposed to the vertical towers of old. They have also dumped the boring gray steel and bushed metal of the G5 models, and opted for a classier, more business-like beige color. Everything about this new model screams “pro”. In a welcome return, along side the optical drive, we are very pleased to see the return of the floppy drive to the PowerMac lineup. (Looks like someone at Apple has been reading our e-mails! ). One final note on the outside appearance of the machine, Apple designers have added dirt, leaves, and what appears to be a coffee mug ring to the top of the Power Macintosh 6200, perhaps in an attempt to appear more “extreme”, and appeal to the 18-28 year old audience. ( Look for Dells to have a similar styling in about 5 months as they play catch-up. )

We opened this baby up to see what Apple had under the hood, and we weren’t disappointed. They loaded this thing with more leaves, more dirt, and more spiders than we have ever seen in any Apple product since the original bondi blue iMac. This Mac screams speed. With its PowerPC 603 chip with 256 kB of level 2 cache, it’s 120 Mhz bus, 64 bit data path, 4 MB of ROM, 2 RAM slots (with support for up to 64 MB!) and a 1.5 GB hard drive, it’s hard to imagine the graphics professional who could find fault with this machine. You want to talk expansion? This thing has an expansion slot. For handling such applications as Maya and Photoshop, the Power Macintosh 6200 comes nicely equipped with 1 MB of Video RAM. As we mentioned earlier, in addition to the CD drive, Apple threw in a 1.4 MB “Super drive” Floppy drive.

For the demanding audio professionals, Apple didn’t forget about you either. They have included both a stereo mini jack out, and a mono mini jack input. If there’s a downside to all this technology, it is that this beast must feed, and it takes a whopping 150 watts to operate. Like the iPod nano, It really is an engineering marvel. When you realize Apple did all this while also shaving almost 20 lbs. from the weight of its last desktop monster, the PowerMac G5, you begin to see the genius behind Apple’s latest design.

Unfortunately, Apple dropped the ball in one important area. All their ports, (and I do mean ALL OF THEM) are some sort of proprietary design. They have ditched the ubiquitous USB and FireWire ports, and gone with something called ADB and SERIAL ports for connecting such peripherals as mice, printers and keyboards. The display port also is an issue, as none of our conventional Apple displays will fit into the port.
This may be seen by some as either poor planning on Apple’s part to rush this machine out the door before the peripheral makers had time to support it, but Apple has always been a leader, and I am sure it won’t long before we see ADB printers and mice. (Editor’s note: at the moment there is no support on the Power Macintosh 6200 for any of the iPod models Apple currently sells. Expect to see an ADB-to-dock connector from Apple soon, probably by the time you read this).

We were pleased to see, or should I say “hear” the familiar Apple chime when we pressed the power button. With no display or input devices, turning the computer on is pretty much the extent of our benchmarking test. However, the burning smell that came from this machine after about 5 minutes was the smell of unmistakable POWER. Looks like Apple has another winner on it’s hand.

A free computer is hard to beat. While early adopters will have some trouble in the beginning connecting their favorite peripherals, the price/performance combination here makes the on the Power Macintosh 6200 a no-brainer. It will be interesting to see how Apple makes money from these machines. It seems a radical change in their business model is at hand. I for one, will be going back to the dump this weekend, looking for the next shipment to arrive. I’ll probably see you guys on line.

• Free.
• Great new styling
• Tons of Power
• Great expansion possibilities
• mono audio input
• Did we mention it was free?!?

• proprietary ports will limit the end users ability to interact with the computer.
• spiders

6 Responses to “Exclusive! Hands on with the Apple Power Macintosh 6200”
  1. Ted says:

    Absolutely hilarious!! Thank you for the laugh.

  2. cf says:

    While this review appears spot-on, I have point out a small inconsistency (call me a nit-picker): while Apple may have gone all proprietary on the interfaces, the SERIAL port is actually industry-standard; it’s just that the connector itself is non-standard.

    As for the rest: great review, keep up the good work!

  3. Maddrawer says:

    OMG… I got one, I got one !!!

    I must say, the AC has burned… like it is said in your (fantastic) comment !! :-)))

  4. observer says:

    … if ya like, I’ve got some of the revolutionary new input devices and monitor converters for these nifty machines, though I suggest that the spiders and leaves inside were merely packing material!

  5. maccer says:

    Can’t it be that those spiders are newly designed surfing agents? There have always been rumours about about such agent that you could send onto the web and they’d collect information for you. Now we may finally see them. And it’s an Apple first again.

    Does the spec of this machine say anything about the number and how install more of them?

    The leaves, I can’t immediately see do something. Perhaps they’re just there to keep the spiders comfortable.

  6. Aaron says:

    Hmmm. I thought Apple would be going with Intel CPUs. Maybe they’ve seen the light and gone back with PowerPC CPUs.

    I can’t believe this computer can be expanded to 64MB! That’s like 65,536KB! And Bill Gates himself said 640KB is enough for anyone. Hah! Take this, Bill!

    I do have to say that I feel a bit angry. I paid $3000 for my PowerMac G5, and now they’re giving these powerful beasts away! How am I going to sell my G5 on eBay when they’re giving these things away?!


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