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Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition - Apple iMac 24in - 2009 Edition

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Having rebuffed the urge to talk design at the beginning of this review, we can resist no longer. Despite the design not changing one iota, it's hard to get away from the sheer economy and simplicity of the iMac. Its aluminium shell looks and feels sublime and is beautifully counterpointed by the glossy black bezel and the Apple logo below the screen.

This design flair is matched with unrivalled build quality. One must only tilt the screen to understand this, since the hinge is so effortlessly smooth that the whole machine can be adjusted with just one finger - you can see this even better in the video review. During operation it also remains whisper quiet, while the smooth hinge is robust enough to keep the iMac perfectly stable.

Around the back the seamless simplicity is maintained thanks to the gently arching, smooth black plastic casing and the beautifully integrated power socket - positioned centrally so the cable can be easily routed through the cable management hole in the stand.

As is Apple's habit, connectivity isn't prodigious but it only really lacks the more niche connections like eSATA. As such you do get four USB ports (two more can be found on the keyboard), a Gigabit Ethernet port, a mini-DisplayPort output, FireWire 800 and line-out/in ports for audio. We will re-iterate the usual complaint about the mini-DisplayPort output since it requires an adapter to work with any monitor, but it does support Dual-Link DVI and therefore 30in monitors. Moreover, given this is an all-in-one, it's less likely to be utilised anyway unless you're a professional in need of more desktop real-estate or a colour matched monitor.

As for the display itself it is, for the most part, a fine effort. It's very sharp, bringing out detail in high-definition video very well and producing sharp readable text, while its large desktop area is obviously near perfect for Full HD video - black bars be damned! Colour accuracy is also very pleasing with each step in our colour scales being reproduced correctly. Dark level detail isn't quite as proficient, but nonetheless pretty good, while the black level itself is good for an LCD and enhanced by the predictably reflective glossy panel.

Our only concern regards some significant banding present in gradients. We struggled to identify this problem in normal usage scenarios and a regular consumer probably wouldn't bat an eyelid, but in our eyes this rules out the iMac for colour-sensitive work. How important this issue is rather depends on your standpoint. We'd argue that, despite the rhetoric stating otherwise, the iMac is inherently ill-suited to true colour-critical work in normal office lighting due to the glossy finish where reflections can distort the perception of colour. That said, iMac's are used widely in such circles especially in rooms with controlled lighting where the glossy finish can do its job of enhancing colour saturation and contrast, so the banding is a concern. We'd add, too, that it's quite possible this is an issue isolated to our sample and unless we looked for it we probably wouldn't have noticed it, but it is there.


March 25, 2009, 4:49 am

Sorry but the value just isn't an 8. More like 5 again.

� for a computer and what can it actually do? It has a 9400M graphics card, no integrated memory, therefore no (decent) games.

What can this actually do that the mac mini cant? An additional 𧽴 for some more memory, a faster CPU, a screen & a mouse and keyboard, plus a hard disk upgrade.

Nothing above actually makes it a must have, a mac mini is going to be plenty fast enough for anything that you might want to use this for.

I really don't understand why anybody would buy this over the mac mini!


March 25, 2009, 6:27 am

It's still not too late to remove the blasphemous comment, that this is a PC before the Apple crowd show up.


March 25, 2009, 7:29 am

Have to say, I almost got this over my Mac mini but didn't have the money or the space for it. It also stands up quite well price-wise to other Core 2 Duo All-in-ones like the Dell XPS One.

Anyway, two favourable Apple reviews in the space of two days - soon TR will be accused of having an Apple bias (to add to its Panasonic one) :)


March 25, 2009, 11:09 am

i'll be damned if that keyboard didn't come straight from a macbook.


March 25, 2009, 11:46 am

@xenos - value score is probably compared to other 24 inch all in ones. fair comparison, if you ask me.


March 25, 2009, 11:52 am

Andy - can you please confirm this value score is judged only against other Macs (as Hugo carefully explained in his Mac Mini review commentary)? Many thanks.

Lee Marshall

March 25, 2009, 12:44 pm

How can the overall score be a 9 when all the bits that really matter (features, performance and value) are all 8?

Andy Vandervell

March 25, 2009, 1:09 pm

@Petrov: As stated in the review more than once (and others above) the value score is based on the iMac's value compared to other manufacturers which, if you look around, is surprisingly good.

@Lee Marshall: That's one way of looking at it, but design is just as important as any other category in this regard as people who buy this product will buy it (in part) due to its design - or certainly as a large factor in their decision. I'm guessing from your tone you don't fit into this category, so the iMac probably isn't for you.

Regardless of this, though, any product that scores a 10 in one category and 8s in all the others stands a perfectly reasonable chance of getting a 9 overall. And, in case you were wondering, the overall score isn't an average - never has been.


March 25, 2009, 2:00 pm

@Xenos: Just wanted to add that with your spare $700, you can instantly cut that down to around 𧷤 or once you take into account a decent 24inch monitor. 𧷤 for the other bits and bobs seems reasonable.

Also, having initially baulked at the price of this system, just like you, I went about trying to spec up a comparible PC (not an all in one, just a normal PC) and got to about 𨀼 for the basics without any extra peripherals beyond a monitor. Factor in things like speakers, webcam, keyboard, and mouse and you're probably pushing �. Then take into account the all-in-one sleekness and you have a product that actually represents reasonable value.


March 25, 2009, 2:01 pm

*Just wanted to add that with your spare 𧽴, you can instantly cut that down to around 𧷤 or so...


March 25, 2009, 2:18 pm

Take that HP!

Take that Dell!

Take that PC Funboys

and Take that budget PC People

who else wants some:P


March 25, 2009, 2:25 pm

@Ed - out of interest, how did you reach that 𨀼 for a PC? I reckon it could be done much more cheaply:

* CPU - 𧴜 (and that's for a 2.8GHz Wolfdale - AFAIK 2.66GHz C2Ds can't be bought any more)

* Motherboard - 㿲

* GPU - 㿏

* RAM - 㿏

* Case & PSU - 㿲

* HDD - 㿞

* OS - 䀁 (Vista Home Premium 64-bit OEM)

That lot comes to 𧹵. You can get a 24 inch LCD for under 𧵬 so you'd be going well beyond that to hit 𨀼 overall.


March 25, 2009, 2:33 pm

That's why I said a decent 24inch monitor. You're looking at 𧹈+ for that alone.

You're also undervaluing some of the other components; 4GB DDR3 1056 is more like 㿞, HDD is more like 㿨. Add in the 㿨 for iLife (i know you can't get it for a PC and you can probably find free or cheap equivalents but to make it a fair comparison it has to be included) and you'll be pushing the figure I quote.


March 25, 2009, 2:34 pm

Ooooo. Looks like another PC v Mac fanboi war is about to break out.

I'll go get my popcorn ....... :)


March 25, 2009, 2:59 pm

Andy, many thanks for the confirmation that the value score is compared to other manufacturers - I think that's exactly the right approach. (By the way, I think your review is excellent!)

Still leaves me confused by Hugo's Mac Mini review - shouldn't TR/Chief Editor adjust Hugo's value score on that review to reflect a score vs other manufacturers as well (and not just other Macs)...? Anyway, no biggie.


March 25, 2009, 3:12 pm

Good review. The importance of the OS is not to be underestimated and contributes significantly to the efficiency/responsiveness of the end-product.

Hamish Campbell

March 25, 2009, 3:13 pm

Case? CASE? Are you mad? Who wants a case when you can have NO case. This is all in the monitor, looks stunning, and now I should buy a case?


March 25, 2009, 3:25 pm

Petrov - to clarify my point about the Mac mini: what I was saying was/is that there are no PC equivalents to compare it to. Nothing else is a small and yet manages to work as well. I thought I made that clear in the review but you've either not read it fully, misinterpreted, or I could have explained better.

The iMac is , arguably, less fortunate in that there are very clear systems to compare to. It's good for Apple that it's made this generation good value. I doubt we would have said the same of the last run, which was ludicrously overpriced if you ask me.


March 25, 2009, 3:27 pm

I don't know what brand of drive Apple uses, so a direct comparison is tough, but you can get a 640 GB Hitachi drive for 㿛.89 from scan (http://www.scan.co.uk/Produ.... Point taken re DDR3 - I was looking at DDR2 boards and matching RAM on the basis that there is little proven benefit as yet to DDR3. You could also save by taking a motherboard with integrated graphics, but I factored in a cheap discrete Nvidia GPU.

I wasn't criticising the value score - I think the design and integration of the iMac (+OSX) justifies the premium over an equally specced PC, so it is reasonable value if it fits your needs. I was just wondering where your 𨀼 came from.

Out of interest which 24 inch monitors would you consider "decent" enough to compete with the iMac?


March 25, 2009, 3:46 pm

Ed: "That's why I said a decent 24inch monitor. You're looking at 𧹈+ for that alone."

So it's an IPS-panel then? Because if it's a TN-panel as with the 20" version, that's not worth 400 GBP by a long shot -- you can get those for 200 GBP.


March 25, 2009, 4:10 pm

I want one. Sick of Vista.


March 25, 2009, 4:20 pm

@Ed - When I decide to change my PC I'm still going to have my BenQ FP241W sitting on my desk, something which you guys yourselves gave 10/10 for in every category.

Having to pass on the ENTIRE pc when you want one that can play a game is just a bit stupid tbh.


And that cost me 𧷸 delivered, brand new with dead pixel guarantee! Hearty S-PVA panel too.

(Seriously buy it now its SO DAMN GOOD)


March 25, 2009, 4:23 pm

@Ohmz - Give Windows 7 a spin, build 7000. Make a dualboot to XP and OS X. Then laugh at having saved yourself over � than buying a Mac with similar specs ;-)


March 25, 2009, 4:29 pm

BTW - I meant P-MVA not S-PVA. Its a fairly unique monitor as it has better motion performance (or as good as) TN but really good colours too.


March 25, 2009, 4:34 pm

Nothing like a good mac vs pc argument to make the work day pass.

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