Review Price £1,250.00
Apple iMac 21.5in - Peripherals, Value and Verdict
Everyone who has used an iMac in the last few years will be familiar with the bundled wireless peripherals. First we have the Apple Magic Mouse, a simply horrid ambidextrous peripheral. Though its touch surface is kind of cool, it's not nearly as comfortable as a regular scroll wheel. Worse, the mouse's shape provides no support for your hand whatsoever, and it has sharp edges at the sides which make anything but the most casual 'claw' grip distinctly uncomfortable.
We would recommend that you go for the Apple Magic Trackpad instead. It makes for an interesting partner to a less magical but more usable rodent like the Logitech LS1 Laser Mouse, which is available in Mac-friendly white.
The chiclet keyboard, on the other hand, is an absolute joy to use. You can choose between versions with or without a keypad, and either way it's a neat, slim affair. Keys provide excellent feedback with just the right amount of travel and spring, and layout is flawless. We would happily type on it all day.
So how does the iMac compare to the competition? If you're after Mac OS, it's the obvious choice - unless you want to take the slightly grey route of installing Mac OS on a regular PC. Even for Mac power users, the new iMac is significantly more powerful and better connected than the Mac Pro, though not as expandable, obviously.
If you don't mind which OS you go for, the choice becomes far less straightforward, with rivals like the HP TouchSmart 610 offering compelling alternatives. The 610 might not be as accomplished in the CPU or GPU departments but it's still powerful enough for most users, and offers touch, Blu-ray playback, more storage, more memory, an integrated TV tuner, a larger screen, better adjustability, a remote control, HDMI inputs for hooking up consoles, and easier upgrades – all for £150 less. Do keep in mind though that it doesn't come close in style, build quality or slimness, so it's by no means a clear-cut decision.
Apple has gone the route of "if it ain't broke don't fix it", keeping the beautiful chassis of earlier iMac models in this latest refresh. The addition of Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' internals combines with Thunderbolt connectivity and niceties like an HD webcam to bring these stylish all-in-ones to the cutting edge, finally catching up to high-end Windows equivalents while retaining the killer look that keeps it ahead of the crowd. However, it also retains many of the iMac limitations (including the lack of a Blu-ray drive and easy video inputs), and buying a Windows-based all-in-one will still get you more flexibility while demanding less from your wallet.
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