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

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


One thing we didn't really expect from the iMac was decent speakers, but delivers them it does. We're still not talking high fidelity quality here, but the iMac speakers deliver a pleasing warm and powerful sound that's suitable for music and film viewing. Dialogue, in videos, is crystal clear and there's even a little bass to be had, though nothing too raucous.

As noted earlier the iMac doesn't come with wireless peripherals as standard, but you do get a mouse and keyboard and the choice between a full-size keyboard (with number pad) or the compact version we've received. Apple's peripherals can be an acquired taste, especially for those moving from a PC, but time tends to paint them in better light.

If you're short on space this is one of the best compact keyboards you're likely to find since, except the slightly narrower Return key, the layout remains relatively uncompromised. Keys have a decent level of depth and feedback and though the isolated style keys always take a little getting used to, once you do, your typing speed should pick up. We probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone whose spends all day typing at their desk, but for semi-regular use it's very good.

We're less convinced by Apple's self-titled "Mighty Mouse", though. Ergonomically it's reasonable and should, in theory, be completely ambidextrous. This is the case in its three-button configuration, where there's a single primary button, the centre scroll-ball click (pre-configured to display the Dashboard) and the pinch buttons on the side for Exposé. Yet, in the four-button configuration, where a right-click button is created through pressure sensitivity, the responsiveness becomes very flaky when used left-handed. This is true, albeit to a lesser extent, when used right-handed too, so though it is significantly better than most OEM mice it's not really up to Apple's typically high standards.

Our only other criticisms, somewhat typically for an Apple product, consist of things Apple has chosen not to include. Some kind of video input, though hardly essential, would be a nice option, especially when an increasing number of camcorders and cameras feature some variety of HDMI - not to mention games consoles or Blu-ray players.

More crucial, however, is Apple's continued ambivalence toward Blu-ray. Were we still entrenched in a format war its trepidation would be entirely understandable, but now it just smacks of intransigence, so you'll excuse us if we don't whoop and holler if/when Apple finally announces Blu-ray support in some months time as it so often does. Thus, if you do want or need Blu-ray, you do have to look at the likes of Sony, Dell and HP for a Blu-ray equipped all-in-one, albeit one that will cost more than Apple's offering.


Unlike the Mac mini, whose virtues are more contentious depending on your view, the iMac - particularly in its 24in guise - is an easier sell. It helps that most alternative 24in all-in-one's are more expensive, largely due to a greater emphasis on multimedia features, but it doesn't change the fact that the iMac is an iconic piece of design that also delivers as a powerful and - lack of Blu-ray excluded - well featured desktop replacement that benefits from one vital and so far unmentioned attribute: Apple OS X.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Performance 8
  • Value 8
  • Features 8
  • Design 10


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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