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Wanted: Color SE

This is yet another article inspired by discussions of the low-cost Mac and what it should be. We may even write an article on the low-cost Mac itself one of these days, although a few more facts and a bit less rumor will be necessary first. In any event, this latest discussion centers on the possibilities surrounding a color screen in the SE case. The size is somewhat important because Apple has less to re-tool on its automated assembly line if most everything stays the same size. In addition, many people are quite fond of the size of the compact Mac-they are easy to move and less fuss than the modular Macs. One suggestion was to increase the screen size vertically several inches, although we would like to see a full page display in such a machine, as long as we are making our wish list.

Interestingly enough, much of the Usenet discussion was based on whether color was even desirable. One person felt that black and white is perfectly appropriate in many situations, to which another pundit replied, "Who needs FM radio? AM is perfectly appropriate in many situations. I don't see the correlation between quality output and satisfaction." The majority of responses said that color was a good thing, particularly in educational settings where it helped to capture interest and to clarify subtle points such as the innards of a frog. (And believe us, those frogs they give you in freshman Biology can indeed have subtle innards!) At least one person mentioned a number of uses for color even in word processing, such as keeping quotes from different people straight or making personal notes for deleting later. Of course if you are going to use color in a word processing document, get Nisus, which can search on colors and most everything else as well.

Another issue in color for educational Macs is that children are used to the vibrant colors on television and are often disappointed in computers that cannot perform up to the level of display that they are used to. One possibility is the color LCD screens that have started to appear on some laptop machines. If those screens could be made fast enough, they would be ideal for compact (as well as portable) computers. Another different monitor technology that would be possible in the SE form factor are new indexed color CRTs (cathode ray tubes) that do not use a shadow mask. They only have a single electron gun, but they have four vertical phosphor stripes: the normal red, green, and blue, plus an extra (non-visible to the eye) one along with a photodetector that keeps everything in sync. These tubes supposedly produce beautiful bright color (because of not using the shadow mask), take little power, and have no convergence problems. They are no larger or heavier than the standard black and white tubes because they don't have three electron guns like standard color monitors. The electronics are somewhat more expensive, but if they were used more commonly the prices would drop.

Information from:
Don Gillies -- gillies@p.cs.uiuc.edu
Wm Leler -- wm@ogicse.ogc.edu
David Sumner -- sumner@usceast.UUCP
Ingemar Ragnemalm -- ingemar@isy.liu.se
Philip Machanick -- philip@pescadero.Stanford.EDU
Johan van Zanten -- eggplant@walt.cc.utexas.edu
Jason Gross -- gross@umiami.miami.edu

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 18-Jun-90, Vol. 12, #25, pg. 18


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