Skip to comments.A borrower of the iMac becomes a buyer
Posted on 10/09/2007 9:04:58 PM PDT by Swordmaker
Perhaps the ultimate compliment a hardware and software reviewer can pay to a product is to spend his or her own money on it.
And that's exactly what I did after just a few days of living with the latest incarnation of Apple's iMac computer I bought one of my own.
Now, I'm not usually that impulsive with big-ticket items, and in this case I did have a reason for buying a Macintosh desktop. I'm working on a second computer book for Peachpit Press, and it will focus on running Windows on the Mac. I needed a desktop system because my MacBook won't handle Windows games, which I plan to include in the book.
Hey, that sounds like a good excuse, right? At least, that's what I told my accountant, who also happens to be my lovely wife.
Nevertheless, I've been pondering buying a Mac desktop for some time, and it was the experience of actually using it that ultimately pushed me to this model.
Simply put, the new iMacs with their 24-inch screens, all-aluminum cases and powerful components are easily the most pleasurable desktop computers I've touched.
I know I sound a little like my effusive fellow tech columnist Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus here, but bear with me a bit.
This isn't to say that the iMacs are not without their flaws. In fact, both the model I bought and the smaller, 20-inch versions have some issues that may give many buyers pause. But the overall experience of working on an iMac is probably the best testament yet to Apple's philosophy of designing hardware and software so they work in tandem.
That said, it's also an excellent computer for running Microsoft's Windows. I've installed Vista on it, and it runs that operating system as well as the highest-end PCs I've tried.
This new iMac is the latest in the line that is the direct descendant of the original one-piece Macintosh. It replaces a design first introduced in 2004, in which the computer's components are incorporated into the body of the case behind and below the screen. The 2004 edition featured a white plastic body, while the new model has a single piece of aluminum shaped to form the case.
The 24-inch model I tried came with a 2.8-gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme processor, two gigabytes of memory, a 500-GB hard drive, a DVD burner and an ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card with 256 megabytes of its own memory. As with all iMacs, it has a built-in iSight camera atop the screen; USB 2.0, Firewire and Gigabit Ethernet ports; built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi (a rarity in desktop computers); a mini-DVI port for connecting a second display; and both analog and digital audio input and output.
What initially draws you into the 24-inch model is its display. It's as gorgeous, sharp and bright as any widescreen LCD monitor I've seen. I have it set up behind me on my desk at work, and when colleagues come to talk to me, I find them staring at the iMac's screen rather than looking me in the eyes. However, that display is also controversial. It has a piece of glossy-finish glass over it, which makes colors appear more intense, but also creates glare. If your computer workspace puts your back to a window, this may irritate you. However, Apple has compensated by making the screen extremely bright. In most cases, you're not going to notice the glare.
That thin keyboard
Another point of contention is the keyboard, which Apple has redesigned to be incredibly thin. It's about a half-inch thick and tilted slightly, front to back. Its keys are shallow they're almost identical to those found on the MacBook with not much throw. This looks very cool but also looks very uncomfortable. I was resistant at first, but the more I use it, the more I like it. Normally I'm a fan of ergonomic keyboards, and I was considering replacing the thin aluminum one. Now I may not. With its 2.8-GHz dual-core processor, it's incredibly fast. Using Boot Camp, Apple's beta software that lets you choose at startup whether to use Mac OS X or Windows, I dropped a copy of Vista on the iMac's hard drive. I then installed Electronic Arts' new combat game, Medal of Honor Airborne, on the Windows side. This game will challenge the staunchest system, but it ran flawlessly at the screen's full 1,900-by-1,200 resolution with all the eye candy turned on.
The 20-inch models start at $1,199, and the 24-inch ones start at $1,799. The price of my review unit is $2,299, which is not cheap, but is comparably priced to PCs with similar specs. Any system with a processor, hard drive, memory and screen like this will approach that figure, and none have the all-in-one design like this. Even Gateway's new One PC can't match the specifications in the iMac.
Sounds like there's no reason not to buy one if you're in the market for a Mac, right? Well, you may want to wait, and you may want to steer clear of one of the two models completely.
At this writing, Apple has not yet said exactly when Leopard the next version of its Mac OS X operating system will be released, but it's expected to be later this month, with most laying odds that Oct. 26 is the date. If you hesitate to install a new operating system yourself on a brand-new computer, you may want to wait and let Apple do it for you.
Apple also has confirmed that some owners are suffering an issue with screen lockups in the 24-inch models, which may be related to a video driver update the company issued in September. I have experienced this on the model I bought, but intriguingly, the review unit I have is not affected, even though it has the same graphics card in it. Apple says a fix is in the pipeline, but won't be available until later this month. Finally, I'd advise staying away from the 20-inch models completely. They use a lower-quality kind of screen than the 24-inch, and there have been complaints in Apple's support forums about uneven brightness and colors on different areas of the displays. You can see this on the models in some Apple Stores by bringing up a Web page full of text on the screen, then moving the page from top to bottom. Text that appears sharp and uniform washes out and may be almost blotchy toward the bottom.
If you want on or off the Mac Ping List, Freepmail me.
” Apple also has confirmed that some owners are suffering an issue with screen lockups in the 24-inch models, which may be related to a video driver update the company issued in September. Finally, I’d advise staying away from the 20-inch models completely. They use a lower-quality kind of screen than the 24-inch, and there have been complaints in Apple’s support forums about uneven brightness and colors on different areas of the displays ...”
Which is why I ain’t buying a Mac ...at least right now .
A lady I work with was describing her troubles with Dell. Hours on the phone trying to get it to connect to her home wifi network. Phone support wanted her to be home during the day so the tech could trouble shoot, but my colleague works during the day and travels frequently. Then they refused to take the PC back, then later saying they would replace it but would charge a 35% restocking fee.
She told me on Monday she had gone out and gotten a 20inch iMac. After unpacking it and connecting the power, she said she was connected and on the wifi within minutes, then she freaked out because her iMac started talking to her and updating itself.
She then told me I was right, having an iMac is FUN!
If it starts calling her "Dave" she needs to run!
That keyboard makes me wonder why Microsoft doesn’t come out with a model based on the Natural Ergonomic 4000 USB-port keyboard but designed specifically for Macintosh machines. That thing would sell like hotcakes to Mac users.
They`re laying off 250 people at the Dell Technology center here in Tn.I naturally feel sorry for those people out of work but I left Dell for Mac and love my Mac Mini.They ARE just fun
Gonna be in line for a 20” iMac as soon as Leopard comes out later this month,
I hadn`t heard of the 20” screen problem,but I`m sure Apple
will make a person satisfied if him/her gets a bad one,fingers crossed.
give me 2,299 bucks and an hour on newegg.com and i’ll build a PC that’ll blow the doors off that thing.
Sure...for a few weeks - then Vista bugs and memory leaks will bring it to its knees. PC's are like Lindsay Lohan - they peak at age 18 (days) and it's all downhill after that. ;)
Tried Vista, Hated it. Made my 1 1/2 year old sweet pc run like my old 400mhz. I’ve added another gig since then but so what. Someday if theres a game I really have to have maybe i’ll do a dual-boot setup.
PS, I’m pissed At MS for making DX10 Vista only. That is pretty sleazy.
Check out the Macrumors forums . Apple is definitely having serious QC and other problems right now . $ of defective iMac computers and 20” screens high . Leopard will probably have growing pains . I’m gonna hold off ...
Oh by all means, hold off if that’s what you want. I read the Mac support pages all the time and it is amazing how many people have issues. That’s the way it is with anything we buy these days. I’m just saying I’ve had my iMac for 14 months now, the only thing happened was some weird program widget I installed was eating memory every second. After a few hours the machine was like molasses.
So, I backed up all my pics and itunes etc and reinstalled OSX. It was like having a brand new machine and that widget works fine now too.
I used to build my own PC’s, six of them. My last one is still running fine with XP...my wife uses it. When I started looking at building a dual core last summer, that’s when I decided it was getting way too complicated, like looking under the hood of your car these days!!
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