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At any rate, am I being unreasonable of expect superior performance out of Apple's low-en next-gen Powermac over the high-end last-gen?
I'd say yes, you are being unreasonable. I cannot remember any generational upgrade in history where the new low end tops the old high end. It most certainly is not the norm. And why would a single G5 be expected to beat a dual G4 whose CPUs run at 80% of the same speed?

If you think $179 a year is too much to pay for an OS upgrade, then skip every second upgrade. Jag is still as good an OS as it was a month ago. To me, though, it's worth $179 a year just to get Apple's development tools. (For a software developer, Mac OS X is way cheaper in the long run than XP Pro with Visual Studio.)

I wouldn't pay even $50 for .Mac myself. You choose to pay $160 and then complain about it? I don't get it.
 
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