The Mac Store in Salem moved at the end of November from its long-time home downtown on Ferry Street out to 442 Lancaster Drive. That’s just south of Center Street for those of you who might be looking to take a run out there. The new location is smaller, about 2500 square feet versus 4000 square feet in the old store, but space is well-used, something that couldn’t be said previously.

I spoke at length with Steve Poland, the general manager, about The Mac Store, Apple, and Apple products. Despite the downsizing of the store, The Mac Store chain continues to do well. Even in cities and location where Apple now has a retail presence, The Mac Store has seen no drop-off in sales volume. They’ve moved to a policy of matching Apple’s educational pricing if it is requested by the customer. Apple occasionally runs specials that they can’t match—because, let’s face it, if you’re losing money on a sale you can hardly make it up with volume—but generally speaking, if you’re educational price eligible, you can get that price at The Mac Store. [I have twice now witnessed this firsthand, and, for what’s it’s worth, neither time did they actually require proof of educational eligibility.]

Like the iPods, the iMacs are selling well, and having now seen the G5 iMacs upclose, it’s no wonder. The flat 17″ and 20″ LCD screens are gorgeous, and the machines themselves are a marvel of design. If you don’t need the portability of a laptop and if PCI slot-type expandability isn’t important, the current crop of iMacs is absolutely a no-brainer. They’re the best iMacs Apple’s ever made, and my only regret is that personally I don’t have a use for one. They’re utterly winning machines.

While I was in the shop I picked up the AppleCare extended warranty for Mystic, my G4 PowerBook. It’s expensive ($239), but it’ll give me three years of warranty service on the machine plus three years of toll-free phone technical support on any issue I encounter. For laptop owners, I continue to recommend the extended warranties since screen replacement alone can cost a bundle. The free tech support should not be overlooked, however. Since standard price is $50 a tech support call, it doesn’t take too many calls to come out ahead.

Finally, I splurged and purchased Apple’s BlueTooth wireless keyboard. It is a very nice keyboard. The feel is good (though I wouldn’t say great), and its compact nature really allows one to clear the desk area. The new keyboard is much smaller than the Apple Extended Keyboard II I was using. Take away as well, and I think it’s a winner, even if I will have to replace the 4 AA batteries every nine months or so. The BlueTooth setup was quick and painless, and I’m happy to report that the store demos accurately reflected the low latency of the device. I notice no difference between using this wireless keyboard and the old wired one in terms of how fast the characters appear on the screen after I type them.

Bonus link: Security tests Mac OS X v. Windows v. Linux. Note that the article is incorrect about the Mac OS X firewall being off by default. The opposite is true. Nonetheless, enjoy the results!