My last computer was a Rev. A MacBook purchased in June 2006. I primarily use and prefer Mac OS, but I've worked frequently with Windows and have no problem with using it. I mostly use my computer for web browsing and chatting (these days). Other things I do include basic word processing for school and some web development. I consider myself pretty good with computers on an amateur level.
I decided to get an iMac over a Mac laptop because it offers better specs for approximately the same cost.
- Intel Core i3 at 3.06GHz (probably a 540)
- 4GB (2x 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM, four slots for up to 16GB
- ATI Radeon HD 4670 with 256MB of GDDR3 memory
- 21.5 inch widescreen display with an IPS panel and LED backlight, native resolution at 1920x1080
- 500GB 7200-rpm SATA hard drive
- Slot-loading SuperDrive, SDXC card slot, iSight webcam, internal speakers / mic, AirPort Extreme with support for 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- 4x USB 2.0, 1x FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, headphones port, line in
- Comes with Magic Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard
I also bought a Moshi ClearGuard CS for the keyboard.
Coming from a 13 inch MacBook, the 21.5 inch screen is massive. The industrial design and packaging are what you would expect of Apple, but mine has a minor cosmetic defect that I didn't catch while checking the machine in the store. Setting the machine up couldn't be simpler: Plug in the power cord, turn on the mouse and keyboard (batteries already in place), press the power button, follow the on-screen instructions, and it's all set. The whole process, including unboxing, took less than ten minutes.
The screen, despite a defect (read on), feels very good during normal use. Everything looks crisp and text looks great. The maximum brightness is blindingly bright, but unlike my old MacBook, turning the brightness all the way down does not turn off the backlight. (I now use Ctrl+Shift+Eject to turn off the display.) Since it has a glass front, the glare is horrible, especially with low brightness (I can see a silhouette of myself), but seeing as the machine will be staying indoors, it's not a major issue for me. The viewing angle is excellent.
Now, the defect: There have been many reports of a yellow tinge on iMac screens, and apparently mine has it too. According to a serial number decoder, my iMac was manufactured this month. For me, it isn't noticeable during normal use, however performing a test for the issue shows that it's present.
I'm not returning the machine because the issue doesn't bother me too much and doesn't seem to worsen as the display stays on for longer (some people report that to be the case), and also because local AASPs (no official Apple retail presence here) seem reluctant to deal with the issue properly. However, if it gets worse / noticeable, I'm certainly going to go to Apple about it.
What this amounts to is that if you're a casual user, the display is great. But if you do any serious work with graphics / images at all, you should probably skip this model or demand a perfect machine until you are sure you have one.
The Keyboard and the Mouse
I've always loved my MacBook's keyboard, and since this one is basically the same thing with some minor differences, I find it just as good--Well, almost. Apple had hard-coded a feature into their keyboards that made Caps Lock harder to trigger accidentally. While most people appreciate the feature, as one of the few people who do [Caps] -> [Letter] -> [Caps] to type capital letters (I know it's silly), this has proven to be pretty annoying.
The Magic Mouse is a love or hate thing, and personally I like it a lot. Instead of trying to rest my hand on it's surface, I find myself leaving it on my desk, holding it with my thumb and ring finger only when I need to move the pointer. Inertial scrolling feels great (I just leave it on the desk and flick my index finger across the surface), and there are third-party tools that turn the mouse into a multi-touch Swiss Army knife, though personally I don't see the appeal.
The ClearGuard I got for my keyboard worsens the tactile feedback considerably. If you are someone who has very clean hands and good hygiene, I'd suggest not getting it. However, considering how dirty my MacBook keyboard became, I'm reluctant to take it off. I don't see other solutions superior to Moshi's offering, though.
Seeing as I don't perform many hardware-intensive tasks, it's hard for me to gauge the iMac's performance. Booting up is quick, though there's an odd 5-second-ish pause between pressing the power button and hearing the startup chime / seeing the screen light up. Subjectively, the machine feels very snappy during everyday tasks.
The Radeon HD 4670 is (according to other reviews) a substantial improvement from the integrated GeForce 9400M previously offered in the low-end model, but I don't have games to test it with. It's worthy to note that the card's still inferior compared to those of PCs in the same range.
The iMac runs very quietly. The top of the machine is very warm / hot to the touch, but from what I've been reading, it's normal. I just hope there are mechanisms in place to prevent overheating.
The iMac is a pleasure to use, and despite some issues, it largely holds up to my expectations. For what I do, the thing is a massive overkill, however if funds are not a issue, it's a great computer for the casual user who occasionally needs more power.
- Great user experience all around if you like Apple's way of doing things
- Good value for money for a Mac (Apple Tax isn't going away any time soon)
- Pricey--It's about twice as expensive as a similarly spec'ed PC
- Widespread reports of screen defects make it completely unsuitable for graphics work, or anyone who is picky about their displays
- You may really hate the Magic Mouse
Taken with a camera phone, so please excuse the quality.
The iMac (and my lamp and headphones )
The Apple Wireless Keyboard (with ClearGuard) and the Magic Mouse
The cosmetic defect
Any questions, please ask. I may possibly update this review in a few weeks to report on my impressions after using it for a while.
Reviews from others
CNET (3.5/5 stars)
Macworld (4/5 mice)
9/7 - The ports on the back are pretty hard to reach, but Hell will have to freeze over before Steve Jobs lets ports be placed on the front.
9/7 - Magic Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard are both heavy on the batteries: 89% left on the mouse, 92% on the keyboard (accuracy unknown).
9/7 - If you place two fingers on the Magic Mouse at the same time, your click is always interpreted as a left click. So far I haven't found that an issue, but some people might. (It's a technical limitation though--The mouse has no way of knowing which finger you pressed down with.)
9/19 - The keyboard arbitrarily disconnects a couple of times each day. Not a huge problem, but a nuisance nonetheless.
9/19 - The power usage of the mouse and the keyboard aren't as bad as I'd thought, at least according to the stats provided by the OS.
9/19 - Haven't been noticing the yellow tinge at all, even if I look for it.