Best Compact Mac for QuickTime

Originally published 30 August 2000 as a Mac Daniel column for Low End Mac.

Q: Which of the Compact Macs is best for QuickTime viewing and/or editing?

A: The Classic II will suffice, but get an SE/30 if you have the option. The Classic II is severely limited by its 10 MB RAM ceiling. The SE/30 can be easily (and cheaply — usually for less than $40) expanded to 32 MB of RAM with eight 4 MB 80ns (or faster) 30-pin SIMMs. Put System 7.5.5 (available for free from Apple as 7.5.3 plus 7.5.5 updater) on it, along with QuickTime 2.5, which can be downloaded from Apple or obtained from an older MacAddict CD-ROM. QuickTime 2.5 is the last update that doesn't annoy you with upgrade notices and includes some basic editing features for free. It also is the best version of QuickTime to run on an '030-based Macintosh.

If you need to do color viewing or editing, you have a couple of options. You can pick up an external monitor card ($30 or so on eBay) and monitor (price varies) for the SE/30 or get a Color Classic or Colour Classic II. (Note that the CC II was not sold in the US market.) The big drawback to the latter option is that both versions of the Color Classic are highly collectible and thus very pricey, in the $100 and up range. In addition, the Color Classic supports only 10 MB of RAM. The CC II supports 36 MB, and both can be easily upgraded to '040 status by swapping in an LC 575 motherboard and making a simple hack to the Mac OS.

If you're trying to stick with the Compact Mac form factor, an SE/30 is really your best bet. But if you are looking for a machine for the purpose of QuickTime viewing and don't already have an SE/30 (or some sort of color Macintosh), get a IIci or low-end Quadra and a monitor. For about the same price as the SE/30 with a color video card, you can get a Quadra 660AV or similar machine, which will be far more capable for QuickTime viewing and editing as well.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson