Are they mould lines? Are they cracks? Artifacts in the clear plastic chassis of Apple Computer's Power Mac G4 Cube have drawn complaints from some buyers since the stylish desktop systems hit the channel in August.
To try to get to the bottom of the issue, ZDNet this week examined -- and photographed -- an assortment of freshly uncrated Cubes and found consistent anomalies in their plastics, some of them deeper than Apple has acknowledged.
Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of worldwide product marketing, last week dismissed the marks as inevitable artifacts of the injection-moulding process that didn't reflect a structural weakness in the Cube.
Check out cracks and faults
in the Cube up close. The half-dozen brand-new Cubes ZDNet examined -- all of them still in their packing materials -- bore shallow, straight lines that crossed the dual rivets at the top of the unit as well as irregular, diagonal lines that crossed the top right corners of each Cube. Applying ink to the surface of the right rear crack of one Cube and observing it illuminated with a light table revealed a deeper fissure in the spot that had absorbed the ink. All the marks were indented into the plastic, as opposed to being raised seams. Besides the consistent artifacts, several of the factory-fresh Cubes bore random marks on their surfaces that refracted light onto the metal inner sleeve of the chassis. The Cube markings started drawing the attention of Apple support technicians in September, when Apple's Service Source Tech Exchange reportedly received more than 50 inquiries about open cracks forming along the lines. "Small inch-long cracks on three of the four corners, all running from the top down," one of the technicians reported. "Cannot determine the depth of the crack, or if it is a crack or discoloration, for sure. Customer stated that he read about it on Web sites and wanted it checked." "... Apple needs to give us field techs a little more support," another stated. "Cannot get a straight answer from our own tech support line [about the Cube cracks]. If we cannot get answers, how are the customers supposed to?" Nick dePlume, Thinksecret.com, contributed to this report. See up-close pictures of cracks in the Cube. Thinking outside the Cube: Mac OS X for X86
Users are looking for a way out of Windows, and Linux isn't cutting it for them. With its BSD core and its Mac interface, Jason Brooks wonders if OS X can deliver the goods for power users and newbies alike. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment. How is Apple going to talk its way out of this one? To have your say online click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum. Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read what others have said.