It only seems like two minutes since the iMac underwent its last cosmetic, aesthetic and technological revision. If the last sleek and white revision wasn’t impressive enough wait till you get a load of the kid on the block. Its hard to define really where Apple’s entry level begins nowadays because even in the low end categories they deliver machines that pack quite a punch and prove that there is more going on under the hood than just looks alone.
The new iMac is pretty much all new and all different from the ground up. Borrowing aluminium styled design from its Pro cousins, this machine has taken on an even leaner look than its predecessor. Under the hood the Intel Core 2 processors continue to be the weapon of choice for these machines touting speeds of up to 2.8Ghz, there’s been a boost to the system bus as well (800Mhz) so the performance should see a hike on the new system. Built in Wireless networking and Bluetooth now come as standard across the range (that’s more like it, Apple were previously a tad frugal with their connectivity options out of the box on the lower priced models). And this will be the second generation Mac to feature the built in iSight camera.
There are no big surprises in the port stakes with three USB 2.0 ports on the machine (and a further two on the keyboard) as well two Firewire ports for the digital A/V types who want to dump video etc on to the machine. There are also the usual range of ins and out for analog and digital sound that have now become commonplace on the Mac range.
Screen real estate is impressive with the iMac now appearing in 20” and 24” models, both models support the 16:10 wide aspect ratio that should make watching movies a relatively pleasing experience. Of course the screen is nothing without the appropriate hardware to power to it. This time round the iMac sports ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics circuitry with 128Mb and 256Mb respectively depending on the model you go for. It seems Apple is finally managing to show some respectable hardware in the graphics department (more evident since the Intel switch).
In terms of storage the iMac uses 3.5” serial ATA drives and will support up to 1TB of storage (750Gb on the 20” inch, one presumes this is something to do with heat dissipitation). Not an unrealistic amount of storage for the home market I suppose, but considering the graphic laden way people are heading one wonders if this upper limit might need revising sooner rather than later.
The drive on the machine is the standard Superdrive (with dual layer support) that burns DVD’s at 8x, one wonders again whether it is the space constraints and the heat output generated that might have kept these figures relatively low when there are faster options on the market. Software wise the machine offers few surprises, iLife is still the benchmark that PC users wish they had out of the box (iTunes,iMovie,iWeb,Garageband). Hopefully for early buyers there will be some rebate on OS X Leopard when it arrives.
So as a machine will this cut the mustard, well the aesthetic appeal will undoubtedly wow the faithful. In terms of making progress technologically, well the iMac is stepping in the right direction although the steps are perhaps a little smaller than one might like. However it has to be said, with prices starting at £799 in the UK you still get quite a lot of bang for your buck.