Elegant end to an argument

23rd June 1995 at 01:00
* Apple Performa 630CD Dos Compatible. Apple Macintosh computer with built-in floppy-disc and CD-Rom drives, 12 megabytes of memory, 500-megabyte hard disc, 486 PC processor with Dos and Windows ready-installed, monitor and keyboard, price around Pounds 1,600 from Apple and high street dealers. Apple Computer, 16 Roundwood Avenue, Stockley Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB11 1BB

There is nothing like a good argument between a Macintosh and a Windows user and in the end it boils down to what each protagonist is used to. Apple has made a big effort to provide PC compatibility. Software for reading and writing Dos-formatted discs and translating most of the common file formats is included with its operating system. Most peripherals, like printers, have WindowsPC drivers.

The Apple Performa 630CD DOS Compatible is an elegant solution combining a powerful 486 PC in the same box as a Macintosh 630. They share the monitor, disc drive, keyboard, mouse, speakers, CD-Rom drive and serial ports. A keyboard "hot key" allows you to flip effortlessly between Mac and PCWindows environments. They are essentially independent of each other so you can set up a number-crunching process on the PC and return to the Mac to carry out another task. I was even able to run a dual-format CD on both platforms at the same time, but the only way to eject PC CD-Roms seems to be from within the Macintosh system (the drive eject button failed to work in Dos mode). A Sound Blaster audio board is included to comply with the full Multimedia PC standard.

One noticeable omission is the lack of a mouse driver for Dos applications, no problem for a seasoned Dos user, but Macintosh users will be lost. A keyboard button emulates the second button on a PC mouse or alternatively two-button Macintosh mice are available. There is also a joystick port for games players. The PC comes set up with Dos and Windows, so there is no fiddling about with Dos's dreaded "config.sys".

It is quite instructive to install the Macintosh and Windows versions of the same program to get a good comparison of the two systems. Trying to remain neutral, I have great admiration for the patience of PC users in their efforts to get software running.

There are some nice touches such as the clipboard which allows copying and pasting of pictures and text between Mac and PC. A Macintosh folder can also be set up for both PC and Mac files.

The important question to ask is whether this machine is a better buy than individual Macintosh and 486 PC machines. The hybrid machine performs well in both environments and sits nicely in a library or an IT room for accessing the wide range of Macintosh and PC CD-Roms. Macintosh users will welcome this machine; however, it is also a good opportunity for the PC camp to experience some of the unsung benefits of the Mac. Children vote with their feet; one of them has already destroyed the review model's config.sys but it can still be used as a Macintosh.

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