Apple's iMac, 27-inch

Apple’s latest iMac looks only slightly different from previous generations

Published: Mar 30, 2010
Apple's iMac, 27-inch
Apple's latest iMac

Apple’s latest iMac is a sight to behold. It’s the largest all-in-one PC we’ve ever seen; it’s probably the first time anyone’s ever made one this size.

Sitting in front of it fills up a large part of your peripheral vision, and it’s almost too difficult to focus on the whole thing. You’ll have to lower the brightness compared to most other monitors, since the whole thing is shining in your face!

Apple uses high-quality IPS panels and LED backlighting, and the colours are amazing. Resolution is comfortably larger than today’s HD panels, and viewing angles are spectacular, with no colour distortion till you’re almost staring at it sideways. Photographs jump to life, movies are a treat; if you use pro applications like Photoshop or Aperture, or if you work with design, you’ll never want to go back to anything else.

Apart from this, it looks only slightly different from previous generations. The black glass around the screen is now edge-to-edge, but still annoyingly reflective — you’ll need to twist and tilt it to get comfortable under office fluorescent lights.

The entire body is now aluminium, and the “chin” less obtrusive than before. The DVD drive on the right now has an SD card slot for company, while all ports are still at the back. We would have loved to see at least a headphones socket and a couple of USB ports on the side, now that the ones on the keyboard are gone.

Our review model came with a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 4 GB RAM, a 1 TB hard drive, 8x DVD RW drive, and an ATI Radeon 4670 graphics card with 256 MB RAM. A 21.5-inch model can be had with the same configuration, while the lowest-end one has only onboard Nvidia 9400M graphics and half the hard drive space. (You can custom-order a 27-inch model with Intel’s new Core i5 or i7 CPU, giving you high-performance quad-core options for the first time, for hefty premiums.) All models come with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Wifi N, 1.3-megapixel webcam, built-in speakers and microphone. Blu-ray  drives are conspicuously absent, a massive letdown with a 27-inch screen at your disposal. With no official online source of HD material in India, it’s a huge waste of this device’s potential.

The selection of ports is interesting: Audio in and out (analog/optical combo), four USB ports, FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, and Mini DisplayPort video output. Mini DisplayPort will require an adapter for pretty much every TV or projector, which you’ll have to buy separately. But there’s a hidden trick: On the 27-inch model that we reviewed, it can also be used as an input! The required cable isn’t on the market yet, but once available, you’ll be able to connect a DVD or Blu-ray player, game console, or any other video source.

For those worried about the environment, it claims to be energy efficient, highly recyclable, and free of toxic chemicals.

The sore spots? The bundled keyboard and mouse. The wireless keyboard uses Bluetooth and is meant to be picked up and used from across a room, but it’s quite uncomfortable: It’s just too small, and dumps the number pad and even the navigation keys that most laptops manage to pack in. You can choose the older style wired keyboard when you buy, but bundling this shrunken keyboard is a very strange decision. Apple’s new Magic Mouse, claimed to be the first in the world with a multi-touch surface, is too flat and narrow to be comfortable in the palm; Apple envisions that people will push it around with only their fingers on the surface. The gestures are limited to flicks for scrolling and two-finger swipes for page navigation, not the full range available on the current Macbooks’ glass trackpad.

Mac OS X looks wonderful, but it’s easy to lose the cursor on such a hi-definition screen. The iLife applications, especially Garage Band, are good fun, while Photoshop and Illustrator make you feel like you’ve been set free from your shackles. 

However, those looking to install Windows 7, beware! It doesn’t play nice without a few extra downloads, but you won’t find any indication of this anywhere. It is definitely not ready for primetime with Windows 7, but if this is not what you’re buying a Mac for, there’s no need to worry.

Installing Windows allowed us to run our benchmark suite, and the results were quite fair; the iMac should handle some pretty heavy multitasking, as well as most heavy productivity and creative programs with ease, and you’ll be able to play even fairly recent games at low settings.

So what you get in this package is a very powerful machine indeed, with one of the world’s best monitors included.

Current Mac Pro systems start at Rs. 1,56,000 for a quad-core Xeon CPU with 3 GB of RAM, a 640 GB hard drive, and a weaker graphics card to boot. A 30-inch Apple Cinema Display at the same resolution will cost another cool Rs. 1,01,000 and isn’t LED backlit. (The Pros and Cinema Displays are now quite old, and Apple hasn’t reduced their prices over time.)

The Mac Pros should also be refreshed soon, but unless you need that serious amount of number-crunching power — say for a high-end graphics studio — the 27-inch iMac gives buyers massive value for money.

If you would benefit from the 27-inch display, this iMac for Rs. 89,900 is actually pretty great value for money. We’re only just slightly disappointed because it could have been a lot more — with a Blu-ray drive and better video inputs, it could have even been the perfect media device for a bedroom or small apartment, replacing both PC and TV.

A longer version of this review is available at tech2.in.com

(This story appears in the 02 April, 2010 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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