Yesterday I finally got a chance to visit the new Apple Store in Charlotte. The store is in the South Park mall, about fifty yards from the new Nordstrom store. This is a whole new wing of the mall, and it opened on Friday at 10 a.m. to much fanfare. The Nordstrom opening rated a story on our local NPR station--this was definitely the biggest event of the day, from a local perspective. However, the Apple Store opening was also mentioned. This was my first visit to an Apple store, but from the photos I've seen posted on the Web, this store isn't much different from others. I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have any pictures for you, but I did find this link to a photo of the Honolulu store, which looks just about the same. The store staff seemed quite knowledgeable, and I even got a Garageband demo from an employee who really knew how to play (though he had difficulty getting the loops to repeat). The main reason I was there (other than general curiousity) was to check out the G4 laptops. I've got a Ti400, and I'm starting to get a little restless. I wanted to see if a new 1.25 Ghz AlBook would be a major improvement, or if I should just keep waiting for a G5 PowerBook. I was actually surprised to find that the AlBooks aren't a whole lot more responsive than my TiBook, so (unfortunately for Apple), this experience has convinced me to keep waiting for the G5. Another surprise was seeing the Cinema Displays with the G5s. People have been complaining that they don't "match," but to me, the cinemas look fine next to the G5s. Yes, it would be better if Apple came out with new anodized aluminum displays, but I don't think the "look" of an apple display should dissuade anyone from buying right now. The big problem with them now is their lack of adjustibility. If new stand-alone displays had an arm (like the *very* impressive 20-inch iMac), it would be a huge improvement. The best thing about Apple stores is being in a place where everything "just works" with a Mac. What's frustrating about shopping online for Mac products is making sure you're getting something that really is Mac-compatible. Now I can just visit the Apple Store and try out a whole range of products which I know will work with my Mac. I'm just enough of a cheapskate, however, that I'll probably go back home and buy my choice online.