The iMac is something of an anomaly in Apple’s product line-up. Where the iPod touch, nano, shuffle, iPhone and (especially) the iPad are undeniably priced as high as they are pretty much just because Apple can get away with it, the iMac, at lease for the last few revisions, represents uncharacteristically good value for money for an Apple product. That it also comes with an arguably superior operating system, packaged in an undeniably stylish chassis is icing on an already moist and delicious cake.
That the latest generation of iMac is almost imperceptibly different to its predecessor is testament to its pedigree. For all that we’ve seen a huge number of pretenders to its throne, there still isn’t an all-in-one system from another manufacturer that could be considered a true alternative - OS differences excepted.
A big contributor to that is Apple’s aptitude for industrial design. Although this generation iMac uses the same chassis as the previous one, it’s still worth remarking upon how elegant an iMac looks upon a desk. The glass-fronted display still dominates proceedings, and the aluminum casing radiates an air of quality of which plastic can only dream.
As the the plus points of the iMac’s design are still as evident as ever, so are its failings. For a start that glossy display is an absolute menace in an environment with, well, basically any lighting at all. Watch a film with a prevalence of dark scenes and you might well end up seeing more of yourself than of the action. Ergonomics are a potential issue, too. Although the tilt mechanism’s smoothness of action is second to none, height adjustment is conspicuous by its absence, as is the ability to rotate the screen to portrait mode.
The downward-facing placement of the iMac’s speakers remains a curious decision as well. The audio quality is definitely above-average for an all-in-one system, but it’s slightly disconcerting hearing sound radiate up at you from a desk. Then again, if audio is of any particular concern to you we'd always recommend you invest in a set of proper desktop speakers, and for an iMac the perfect partner is surely the B&W MM-1 speakers.