apple cube...again sometime soon?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
just thinking about the apple cube.

i wasn't into mac's when it came out but i've heard it didn't sell well, supposedly because it was before its time



but now very recently the pc cube systems, dubbed as microcase systems are out and i wondered maybe if the pc ones take off well then maybe apple might come back with a new offering of a cube.



i'd like it if they did, space savings good when you don't have much deskspace and having a monitorless unit is cheaper for consumer, as you can choose what you want for it.



but i reckon what they need this time if there is to be one, is the expandability that the new pc ones have. most pc cases have 2 ram slots (ddr standard i believe) and maybe 1 or 2 pci, possibly an agp slot on some and ofcourse firewire and ports mostly on the front.

so if apple was to do a cube i think they'd need front prts (just useful generally) and expansion slots, especially to appeal to gamers.



does anyone else think this would be good?

and do you rekcon this will ever happen at all? if so when..?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 182
    othelloothello Posts: 1,053member
    aaarrrggghh!



    cube question. brain. hurting. must. stop. when. coming. back. head. pounding.
  • Reply 2 of 182
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,146member
    Apple priced them totally wrong. They were more expensive than the base 400Mhz G4 Tower and had 450Mhz processors.



    Most people though "why give up the expandability for 50Mhz and more money".



    Apple should have designed the cube with at least one internal expansion slot other than AGP.



    Today perhaps the could use the Newcard Bus. To be fair Firewire and USB kind of reduces the need for internal expansion but computer users are hard to retrain from years of being told that expansion is key.
  • Reply 3 of 182
    occamoccam Posts: 54member
    I would love a cube, but...



    It would have to be no compromise CPU speedwise, and GPU speedwise.



    Realistically speaking, I would settle for a silent tower that has full CPU (duals nice) and GPU and is silent. The portables are about as fan-free as you can get these days, but they include screens and have compromised GPU's.



    A new cube would have the latest GPU, latest (dual) CPU.



    Pretty please?



    Of course, the main issue now is to see the 970 show up in PMs and PBs. First things first. I'm hoping the new PM's are whisper quiet and ship with ATI's latest and fastest GPU.
  • Reply 4 of 182
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by missyvortexdv



    but i reckon what they need this time if there is to be one, is the expandability that the new pc ones have. most pc cases have 2 ram slots (ddr standard i believe) and maybe 1 or 2 pci, possibly an agp slot on some and ofcourse firewire and ports mostly on the front.




    The Cube actually didn't do badly on that front. Mine has 3 RAM slots, an almost-7" AGP port, 2 FireWire, 2 USB (with more ports on the keyboard and the monitor), 10/100 Ethernet with optional GigaBit and AirPort.



    If Apple tweaks the design (to allow, for example, a standard 7" AGP card to fit), sells it at a sober price point, and doesn't set ridiculous sales expectations (they were apparently anticipating sales of 300,000 a quarter?!) it should do nicely. Add a 970, FireWire2, Bluetooth built in, 5.1 audio on board, and GigaBit ethernet standard, and there go most of the reasons for PCI expansion. Which is good, because some of the micro PCs have exhibited serious airflow and cooling problems which PCI cards just aggravate.
  • Reply 5 of 182
    rickagrickag Posts: 1,626member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Amorph

    ......a standard 7" AGP card, sells it at a sober price....



    I agree wholeheartedly. A PCI card would be gravy. Sales might eclipse their previous expectations. I'd buy one @ $1299 with an IBM 970 running @ only 1.2Ghz.
  • Reply 6 of 182
    1499$ and i'll buy two. But it must have a Radeon 9800 option, on an AGP 8x!
  • Reply 7 of 182
    lemon bon bonlemon bon bon Posts: 2,383member
    What that Amorph fella said.



    There's plenty to be done with a revamped Cube design. Take yer pick. I get fed up of the silent cpu argument. Look at the oomph they cram in those Wintel 'Cube-oids'.



    Apple could do the same with bags more style.



    We've got iMac2s and eMacs when perhaps, for growth, Apple needs pizza boxes and Cube-oids. (Or both.)



    Don't believe me? Most of the top Wintel makers are selling more of their towers/pcs. iMac2 and eMac sales are static and far from stellar and Apple have 95% of the market to aim at (Dell and HP don't...even IBM, Toshiba and Sony sell more than Apple do...yeesh...) So. What's missing? Plenty if you ask me. It's all about product. Apple's desktop offerings offer far too much in the way of rigidity. Far less praised than their laptops by the press for a start.



    Big difference between imac 2 and eMac and a pizza box/cuboid.



    Just look at the amount of consumers that go in with clippings of Wintel product/price into Apple stores and how few, relatively, purchase a Mac and leave the stores as Switchers.



    I like the iMac2 and the eMac is okay. But. I think Apple would benefit from a more open and flexible approach.



    Apple have the righteous argument in the wrong desktop products at the moment dogged by a poor cpu and a denial inducing premium pricing policy that...well. I'll stop there. What was it again? 2%?



    Some guys just can't take a hint, eh Mr. Jobs?



    Lemon Bon Bon
  • Reply 8 of 182
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    I'll take some Cube action there sirs. GPU and CPU and RAM upgradability built in. No need PCI too bad, provide a couple of fast independent firwire buses and GB ethernet. Just think how much easier it would be to sell a Cube redux (with the right price) than convincing a host of consumers weaned on modular towers to adopt AIO. Come on Apple!
  • Reply 9 of 182
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Lemon Bon Bon

    What that Amorph fella said.



    There's plenty to be done with a revamped Cube design. Take yer pick. I get fed up of the silent cpu argument. Look at the oomph they cram in those Wintel 'Cube-oids'.




    And look at all the airflow and cooling problems they have. Some of the shuttles can't even run for more than 8-10 hours without shutting down hard to avoid cooking themselves!



    Besides, quiet workstations are highly desirable things in their own right. Apple can offer noisy bits as BTO options (as they did with the Cube), but don't underestimate the number of Apple-using professionals who'd like a compact, quiet, sexy. and reasonably powerful workstation (one word: audio - this is a large and lucrative professional market that is extremely loyal to Apple, and looking for redress after the MDD towers). The most important thing is that the price bear some semblance to reality. You could just feel all the air drain out of the keynote when Steve posted the Cube's price.



    Quote:

    Don't believe me? Most of the top Wintel makers are selling more of their towers/pcs.



    Actually, notebooks are taking huge bites out of most tower sales. That's the one kind of AIO that PC makers have been able to get right (and that only recently, and for a sufficiently defeatist definition of "right"). Towers are increasingly relegated to various high-performance niches, where they belong.
  • Reply 10 of 182
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    Interesting point about the music biz Amorph. Nobody buys synth modules these days; everybody I know is buying extra PC's to runs softsyths, samplers, Altiverb etc. in parallel with their main music machines (I'm getting an new eMac for this very purpose, when the bloody things are in stock). Are we entering a period when people are looking for a modular approach? Grids anybody?



    Personally I would like to see an 12" PB style pizza box with no screen, keyboard or battery standing edgwise on its own little dock. Sweeeeet!
  • Reply 11 of 182
    marcusmarcus Posts: 227member
    I have owned a few cubes, sweet machines... I would buy a 970 Cube in an instant.



    However, I can't see Apple putting their hand in the fire for a second time...
  • Reply 12 of 182
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Well, they only did it to themselves (putting hand in the fire). Had the Cube been unveiled with a reasonable price tag, I'm quite certain it would've absolutely smoked. Both amorph and Matsu are dead-on: take all the things that killed the original Cube and FIX THEM! A flexible, upgradeable graphics card. Fast Ethernet. Choice of drive options. AirPort Extreme. Bluetooth. Illumina...wait, that's the other thing. FireWire 800.



    And just to humor me: lose the silver/graphite and encase it in righteous glossy white with a chrome Apple logo on front...firmly planting it in "consumer/switcher" territory (matching the iMac, eMac and iBook). Tie it in to the whole "digital hub" thing, give it the proper ports/capabilities to truly be THE home computer (music, movies, etc.). The Cube was gone - I think - before the whole "digital hub" thing really got going (might've overlapped just a bit...can't remember). But there couldn't be any better design for the whole iLife thing!



    Just makes sense. And it would be GORGEOUS! And oh yeah: with a matching white 17" iDisplay available for those interested: 1440x900 (just like the 17" iMac and PowerBook). Those not into that can buy any number of other displays, but goons like me will opt for the matching cool Apple model.







    This will sound really silly, but part of me wonders what would've become of the original Cube had it been marketed more toward the "i" end of the Apple spectrum as opposed to the "pro user" crowd? Could a $400-500 price drop and a colored, translucent plastic case have made more of an impact, considering the time it came out and all (when everything "i" was king and colors, curves and see-through plastics were all the rage)?



    I don't know...I'm asking.



    The Cube was too pricey for consumers and wasn't flexible/expandable enough for the self-proclaimed "serious, power users" out there who, if spending $1800 for a new G4, are going to want drive bays, slots, etc. It occupied that weird middle ground...it was too rock for country, too country for rock-and-roll.







    A $1099 or so Cube, aimed at the consumer/iApp/switcher/soccer-mom-with-a-new-digital-camera-and-camcorder crowd might've set the world on fire.



    Still could, IMO. Think about it, seriously.



    I think a Cube done right WOULD sell. And for the exact reason Matsu pointed out: people are used to towers and standalone CPUs. They like the flexibility of adding a monitor of their choice or whatever. So give them that. Just do it in cool Apple style, function and "wow!" factor cranked up to 11.



  • Reply 13 of 182
    beakeebeakee Posts: 64member
    No doubt, the Cube would sell...How many units???? I was browsing some Cube sites, and it seems that there is a pretty lively after market supporting new processors/hard drives (up to 137GB) graphics cards and even a superdrive set up.
  • Reply 14 of 182
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Hurry, somebody design a new Cube!
  • Reply 15 of 182
    madmax559madmax559 Posts: 596member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Amorph

    And look at all the airflow and cooling problems they have. Some of the shuttles can't even run for more than 8-10 hours without shutting down hard to avoid cooking themselves!







    what crack are you on ??

    i installed a shuttle ss51g at a clients place & it

    has an uptime of close to 300 days & runs bsd



    hasnt "shutdown" or overheated even once..
  • Reply 16 of 182
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by pscates

    This will sound really silly, but part of me wonders what would've become of the original Cube had it been marketed more toward the "i" end of the Apple spectrum as opposed to the "pro user" crowd? Could a $400-500 price drop and a colored, translucent plastic case have made more of an impact, considering the time it came out and all (when everything "i" was king and colors, curves and see-through plastics were all the rage)?



    Well, a $400 price drop would have sufficed. Asking people to pay $200 more for a less powerful PowerMac was an act of hubris I didn't even think Steve was capable of (and that's saying something).



    Let me tell you something, though: The Cube, as released, is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Pictures just don't do it justice. Every single person who's seen this machine just stares at it in varying degrees of admiration and disbelief. It did not, and does not, need a makeover to sell (although Apple might make it more silvery in keeping with their recent shift in aesthetics). It just needs to be itself, only updated, and with some of its less successful design decisions (like the power button) removed.



    Or, it needs a total redesign to accomodate a horizontal layout and a whisper-quiet fan (actually, the Cube has a bracket for a system fan, to the lasting delight of the compulsive tweakers at xlr8yourmac.com) without losing too many of its incredibly clean lines.



    Quote:

    The Cube was too pricey for consumers and wasn't flexible/expandable enough for the self-proclaimed "serious, power users" out there who, if spending $1800 for a new G4, are going to want drive bays, slots, etc. It occupied that weird middle ground...it was too rock for country, too country for rock-and-roll.



    There were a lot of pros who lusted after Cubes, and imagined their design studios filled with quiet little Cubes powering Cinema Displays. But why spend $1800 on a Cube when you can spend $1800 on a faster PowerMac with more expandability, etc. Had the Cube been priced in line with its feature set, Apple would have sold them by the bargeload. Seriously.



    Also, I think it did come out a bit too soon. Steve described it as "the ultimate OS X workstation" back when only developers were running OS X on anything, much less a workstation. It could have run away with the audio market except that FireWire audio just wasn't there yet. Now, however, you can say "OS X workstation" with a straight face. You can do an impressive amount of audio work without a single PCI card, because FireWire has arrived. And Apple's about to pick up a CPU that could very plausibly power a Cube without running into the deadly 500MHz wall.



    Fortunately for you, pscates, Apple ID lends itself well to vector junkies, and the Cube does in particular. Here, as I see it, are the practical issues facing a new Cube:



    1) The power brick. Cube owners go to great lengths to hide this embarrassing VCR-tape-sized exception to the Cube's compact elegance. It's a blot next to the eMac, iMac and PowerMac, which all have tidily integrated power supplies. This isn't an easy problem to solve. Apple could say damn the torpedoes and ship the brick again; or they could give the Cube DVI out and require people to plug in their monitors (which, again, defeats the clean look of the machine by spamming cords everywhere); or they could trim the wattage available through ADC on the assumption that nobody is going to plug an old 21" ADC CRT into their Cube - and if they are, well, they can plug it into the wall, too. The last option allows them to possibly integrate an iMac-style power supply that the machine doesn't ask so much of, but it also means that when Apple rolls out the new Stadium Display you'll have to plug it into a wall.



    2) Orientation. The old Cube's vertical orientation allowed for efficient convection cooling, and it gave the machine the "monolith suspended in glass" look that's so captivating. It also stuck all the ports in a truly maddening location (the bottom), slowed down the optical drive, and made it really struggle with paper-label CDs and the like (leading me to coax them out with a knife blade - not my favorite pastime). Moving to a horizontal orientation allows Apple to more sanely place the optical drive and the various ports, at the expense of the big convection tunnel and the aesthetic.



    3) The AGP slot. It's so close. There are a couple of cards that fit, a few more that fit if you're willing to cut corners (literally!) and bend the odd 130-watts-of-current-bearing metal bit this way or that. As it is, the Radeon in my Cube fits so snugly that I don't think Apple can get a standard 7" Mac card into the current case. It'll have to be a touch bigger. That means that Apple gets to push the materials engineering envelope just a little further, unless they abandon the box-suspended-in-Lucite design.



    4) The power button. This should be simple enough, right?



    I postulated a new Cube design a while back. I'll try to summarize it:

    [*] Larger (10" square)[*] The case would no longer be suspended in Lucite, but there would still be a Lucite "skirt" to allow airflow underneath.[*] The interior would essentially be a tiny rack, with "shelves" for the motherboard, GPU, hard drive(s), optical drive(s), and power supply (going from the bottom to the top). There would be a system speaker at the bottom of the case.[*] There would be a latch to open the case in the back. Pressing it inward would allow the case to be lifted off.[*] Each shelf inside the machine could be unlocked, slid out Xserve-style for maintenance or replacement, slid back into place and locked again. Once that was done, the case could simply slide back into place, and the latch could close simply by pressing down firmly on the top.[*] All ports would be in back, toward the bottom, revealed by a cutout in the case (so that the case could be removed without anything needing to be unplugged.[*] There would be ventilation at the top and bottom (as now) and through tactfully placed vents around the ports. Quiet fans would be stationed as necessary, and they'd come on as needed, PowerBook style.[*] The only mar in the front panel would be a thin slit in the case to accomodate a slot-loading optical drive. A power/sleep indicator light would shine through the case plastic, perhaps doubling as a button (and perhaps not, so that you don't reboot your machine while cleaning it *cough*).



    I kind of like the idea of making this machine white, although there's something really classy about the old silvery-grey. Aluminum is a bit too trendy on the Other Side right now, but Apple might be able to do something with it.
  • Reply 17 of 182
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by madmax559

    what crack are you on ??

    i installed a shuttle ss51g at a clients place & it

    has an uptime of close to 300 days & runs bsd



    hasnt "shutdown" or overheated even once..




    Count yourself lucky, then.
  • Reply 18 of 182
    madmax559madmax559 Posts: 596member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Amorph

    Count yourself lucky, then.





    im running both x86 & ppc & havent run into any issues

    with either of them

    ...nor have i seen anyone else running a shuttle

    run into heating issues





    did you pick up a bad one or something ? & what

    cpu did you install in it ?
  • Reply 19 of 182
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    I looked into getting a shuttle as a media PC/PVR. From what I understand, some models of Shuttle have a GPU built into the mobo and an AGP (and PCI) slot. Running a mid range x86 cpu and the mobo graphics set lets it run relatively quiet. Running the baddest GPU/CPU combo heats it up, fast, at least accordding to what I've read about it.



    Amorph, so you've thought about this cube thing. The way I see it the cube is the perfect medium between Apple philosophy and the buying public's expectations of expansion and flexibility. Not too many slots, just the GPU and CPU, and RAM, the only things that really get touched anyway. Two independent firewie buses for the rest of it. Tons of display flexibility, small, cool, sexy as hell... Apple. Expandable, seperable display/box buying cycles, a little judicous upgrade potential, just what the PC public (that giant pool of the other 97%) have been trained to demand. Decent price (not rock bottom) but stretching from eMac bottom end to iMac top end, depending on HW/SF compliment.



    There's no way they wouldn't be the absolute top "switcher" machine. I'd buy one, and it takes a lot to seperate me from my money, if I'd buy one, a whole raft of PC buyers would too.
  • Reply 20 of 182
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    I agree, amorph. I guess I should probably clarify something a bit: I tend to group the "pro user" camp into two distinct segments, just based on my own observations and first-hand experience for nearly 10 years of being a Mac user, graphic artist, etc.



    The first group tend to be very design/style conscious. Yes, I'd classify them as "pro users", but they lean a bit artier and take art, design, form, ergonomics, etc. seriously. And you're totally right: they'd LOVE a room full of quiet, unobtrusive powerful little Cubes churning away while they're designing pages and stuff. Yes, they WOULD dig the Cube because those aren't necessarily the ones I was referring to earlier. Those are...



    ...the second group: the more geek/tweak end of the "pro" spectrum. The ones who hack, retrofit components, add drives, rig up their own fixes/solutions, who never have enough RAM, hard drive space, processor speed, etc. When I say "pro users didn't dig the Cube, because...", it's that particular group I'm talking about because they ARE the ones who buy towers, fill up the drive bays and RAM slots, change graphics cards on a dime, install three hard drives (all of them partitioned in some wild-ass scheme only they can comprehend), etc.



    But a Cube with just a TAD more options/expandability/flexibility would definitely be a hit. Probably to the first camp more than the other.



    I tend to think that way too: I like clean space, no clutter, small/compact devices, minimum of fuss and cables, etc. I don't have an array of peripherals, nor do I load up my Mac with utilities, shareware, third-party doo-dads, etc. and spend all my time chasing down problems and conflicts or trying to figure out a "workaround" because - unlike that supreme chucklehead Andy Ihnatko and his ilk - that stuff does NOTHING for me.







    Yes, bring on the revised, improved Cube. In white.



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