PC Expo: iMac-alike not thinking so different

NEW YORK -- What egg-shaped computer comes in amethyst, ruby, topaz, emerald and sapphire colors, but is not an iMac?

It's an almost-iMac, Future Power's E-Power. This Windows-based PC, which bares an uncanny resemblance to Apple's best-selling iMac, right down to the colored shell casing, won't hit U.S. stores until September. But that hasn't stopped the one promotional sapphire-colored (rather than blueberry) E-Power on hand here at PC Expo from drawing all kinds of attention -- especially the legal kind from Apple.

"There has been some discussion up to this point with Apple," said Future Power spokesperson Kim Uberti. "We are trying to get a statement together [about the nature of the discussions]." Future Power will release a statement about Apple on Friday, she said. It remains to be seen whether Apple will take legal action over a computer that doesn't think so different, but Uberti insisted that the E-Power and iMac are not in direct competition. "Apple, we don't deny, led the way with the iMac . . . but that is for the Mac market," she said. "Future Power is for the Windows enthusiast. We don't feel that Future Power is competing directly with Apple."

Future Power, of Santa Clara, Calif., is a joint venture company with Daewoo Telecom, the South Korean-based manufacturer that once sold the Leading Edge brand of PCs. Daewoo is providing Future Power with financial backing and PC components. Future Power's CEO John Kim is currently in South Korea and unavailable for comment.

Uberti said the E-Power -- which has a 466MHz Celeron chip under the hood, a built-in 56Kbps modem, 64MB of RAM, a 40X CD-ROM drive, and will retail for $799 -- generated two types of reactions from PC Expo attendees: The Windows user reaction, then the Mac-user reaction.

Windows fans were "real excited and wowed by it," she said. Mac fans weren't. "We definitely got a little bit of friction from the Mac enthusiasts," she said. "We had Mac enthusiasts who came up to us and said, 'What are you doing!?' "