...well, cipher, to respond....
...the reason the tape is all over it is because it a new puter straight out of the box, most likely. If you have ever unpacked a new G4 that plastic is covered with protective plastic on all parts. But those are defintiely the same handles as the ones on the QS sittin right here in front of me.
And the reason I think its a new puter is because, most likely is was supposed to ship at MWNY, but either sales were too slow to clear out the old models, or there is a shortage of chips to fill orders. More than likely, its a channel inventory problem. So, could be this photo comes from a dude in a warehouse somewhere.
As for the front panel everyone is asking about, I'd say it has to do with plastic quality issues. Anyone who has a QSG4 knows what I'm talking about. The QS forms little flow lines around and between the front panel drive bay doors. I'm sure this is to reduce or prevent these unsightly blemishes.. Its easier to mold the plastic around a large opening like this than two small openings like on the current QS.
But, its definitely a real and different case on the inside. And as for SDRAM, DDR RAM is SDRAM.
Also, the speaker is defintely a different design than on the current QS. It looks more flush than the deeply setback one on my QS.
Oh, and to those wondering about vertical HDs, anyone who has owned a Cube knows that Apple has shipped vertically mounted HDs before.
No doubt, this is the exact same board that appeared on eBay a while back. And, it will be nice to have hardware RAID on board, if that chip set supports it (which I would think it would, why else put 2 IDE ports for HDs).
All in all, I'm excited to see this case. Still has the great easy open design of the current design, but throws in DDR, dual IDE, and 2 5.25 external drive bays. Very nice, very nice.
BTW, the front panel may be polished, Apple is moving in that polished chrome direction with the iPod, iMac, etc.
I guess we'll know for sure August 13th?