There is an amusing image on Apple's web site that compares the cable mess that apparently doesn't burden the new Apple imac as compared with the Dell XPS 410.

iMac vs. Dell

OK, for a second, dispell belief.

The Mac has a single cable coming from it, assuming that there is no wired Ethernet connection or USB peripherals, such as a printer. (Yes, I know... wireless network connections are available, but I also have a wireless 802.11G on our new HP Slimline PC and notebooks, so let's just assume an Apples to apples comparson. ;) That's two cables. It has a built-in camera, my PCs do not (although more popular these days on many notebook and mobile PCs). The iMac does not have a series of memory card slots to allow me to move files from SD cards, so add a cable for the multi-card adapter.

That's three additional cables. And I'm not sure what that thing is on top of the Dell.

Granted, a lot of the cable savings on the iMac come from the daisy-chained mouse and keyboard, integrated camera and speakers. I have some of the same savings as I have a Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 installed and a Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000. And if you've read previous posts, you'll know that I have nothing against the Mac or Apple, having spent the bulk of my career using Macs (1984 through 1998) as well as PCs (really post Windows 95). 

If you took Mr. Peabody and Sherman's WayBack machine to 2003, you'll see a PC prototype, co-developed with HP and codenamed "Athens," that mergedvoice, video and text messaging. (Also see this story on the Athens PC on CNET News and this previous post.)

Look familiar? 

Heck, Athens even had an integrated phone, something I would like for my desk as I have a home office Polycom desk phone at home. Sure, it would be nice to have the camera in the LCD monitor bezel, but the one on Athens was adjustable, which is what I like about the LifeCam on my PC today: I can move it to suit my needs.Sony VAIO VGC-LS25E PC

Having said all that, where are the cool PCs?

Some of the new crop of Windows Vista PCs are shown on the Windows Marketplace site here, including the Dell XPS M2010, HP's TouchSmart IQ770 and the Sony VAIO VGC-LS25E (as well as the range of Sony all-in-one PCs). Design-wise and of these PCs, the HP and the Sony all-in-one VAIO are on the short list for my new office computer, given recent price drops.

And fewer cables.

If you're looking at comparable cable connections, then I'd look more at the Mac mini or the Mac Pro tower. Then I expect to see a similar amount of spaghetti wire behind the hardware. 

An additional thought: a Dell XPS 410 is less than $1,100 for a 20-inch Flat Panel Monitor, Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6600 (4MB L2 Cache,2.4GHz,1066 FSB), 2GB of memory and a 320GB5 Serial ATA hard drive. For the same price (actually, $100 more) you get an iMac with a 20" 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, half the memory (1GB), and a smaller hard drive (250GB hard drive).

A close to comparable iMac is almost 50% more: the next model up is $1,499 for a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, still 1GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. There is a more robust graphics card in the 256MB memory ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO.

For that amount, the HP and Sony models below are comparably priced after some of the current discounts I've seen.