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Apple iMac 27in (2012) - Peripherals, Screen and Speakers

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Apple iMac 27in (2012) - Keyboard and Magic Mouse

We’re not particularly big fans of the default peripherals included with the 27in Apple iMac, but thankfully these can be swapped for better alternatives at the point of ordering at no extra cost.

The keyboard is of the squashed, laptop-style with no numpad and small cursor and Enter keys. On the 21in iMac this smaller style could be forgiven somewhat as it's arguably a nod to the whole system being quite compact but here with this larger machine there's little reason to save space and we do miss the extra keys. That said, the key action is surprisingly good and speedy typers shouldn't have any problem bashing out the words at a reasonable pace. The full-size version with numpad is also optionally available as are multiple language versions.

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As for the mouse, it’s Apple’s so called Magic Mouse. What makes it magic is that the whole top surface is one touch-sensitive button. This allows you to perform some multi-touch gestures such as four-way scrolling (up/down, left/right), double tap to zoom, swipe back and forth (between webpages in the browser or images in a gallery, for instance) and a two-finger swipe to move between desktops/fullscreen apps. They’re really useful gestures and relatively easy to do but overall the mouse isn’t very comfortable in the hand and its tracking isn’t all that great. Instead of the Magic Mouse we'd recommend opting for the Apple Trackpad (at no extra cost) and buying a decent gaming mouse seperately.

Apple iMac 27in (2012) Screen

If there’s one area where an all-in-one PC absolutely has to get things right it’s with its display, and thankfully for the most part Apple has done a decent job here. However, again it's not without issue.

The most obvious omission here is the lack of a Retina resolution. At 27in across and with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, you get plenty of screen real estate but not having the option to go to the super-sharp resolutions that iPad, iPhones and MacBooks all now possess is a real shame. Not only does it jar with the rest of the Apple product range but, arguably, it’s here that the high resolution is actually most useful. Certainly for any serious computer users, it's in front of a big screen like this that serious photo and video editing would take place, and it's for just those occasions where Retina is so useful.

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Resolution aside the actual quality of the screen is good but not quite class leading. There’s noticeable light bleed round the edges that is distracting when dark images are on screen. Also dark detailing isn’t quite as good as on the best monitors and there’s quite a bit of contrast shift when viewed from an angle, which results in a washed out, grey look.

All that said, we are nit-picking here, because of the price of this machine. After all, you can buy a truly stellar quality monitor and more powerful PC for far less money than this machine costs, so it really should pass muster on a number of levels to justify its price. In fact, what is offered here by this IPS panel is a good-quality viewing experience with bright, punchy colours, strong contrast levels, reasonable dark detailing, and good viewing angles, putting it on par with a monitor costing around £400 (hardly bargain basement). For slightly better performance (less light bleed and contrast shift) you'll be looking at spending £550, while for truly critically accurate colours you'll be looking at spending £800.

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There’s another issue with the screen. While Apple may insist that touch is only for tablets and phones, many other manufacturers are offering touchscreen laptops and all-in-one PCs, not to mention touchscreen monitors too. Here, though, a poke of the display offers nothing more than a smudgey fingerprint. While by no means essential, we have found touch control on PCs and laptops a nice thing to have so it’s a shame not to have it here too.

Apple iMac 27in (2012) Speakers

So the 27in iMac hasn’t entirely convinced as of yet but from here on in it’s all good. For a start, the included speakers are phenomenal. Again, like the 21in model, there’s no extra sub-woofer – either internal or external – but from the stereo speakers hidden inside the chassis Apple has managed to conjure up an astonishingly powerful and pleasing sound. Blockbuster movie action sequences rumble satisfyingly, rock music has real punch and yet there’s clarity and spaciousness to the whole sound. The speakers would struggle to step up to keeping a party rockin’ but for using while sat at a desk or even for sitting back and watching a movie, they're more than up to the job.

You will get a better sound from getting some separate speakers but you’ll be looking at spending a good £100 to do so.

Calcifer

January 15, 2013, 3:50 am

Apple strikes again! No HDMI... for shame - and of course all the proprietary things that you can only buy from Apple are ever-present..

Genjutsushi

January 15, 2013, 10:45 am

Couple of points -

HDMI is possible with a minidisplay port to HDMI cable;

the peripherals are the default choice when ordering, but a trackpad and a large USB keyboard are both available;

it can be used as an extra monitor via Thunderbolt;

TV tuners are available for the mac (and will work with this);

no retina complaint is silly - the resolution would need to be over 5000 pixels (?) and would you be able to tell the difference at a normal seated distance vs a phone or ipad which is usually a lot closer to the user (ditto macbook);

one comment is that 'you could buy a really stellar PC for less' is misleading when later in the review a Dell (admittedly with a touchscreen) is stated as coming out that is the same price and a similar spec.

To intimate that performance is lacking, but then show performance across the board being excellent is misleading. Ditto 'you do pay for upgrades though'.. yes, you do. And? AND in the Verdict you state that 'it has enough grunt for most users'.

So why go so hard on the iMac? (And no, im not a fanboy, just think this review is poor)

Ed

January 15, 2013, 11:25 am

HDMI is possible with a minidisplay port to HDMI cable;

- "...connecting up a telly or extra monitor requires an extra adapter"

the peripherals are the default choice when ordering, but a trackpad and a large USB keyboard are both available;

- I did actually mean to make that point. Will amend.

it can be used as an extra monitor via Thunderbolt;

- Apologies, you are correct here, though the solution is a little clunky given there are no controls to switch inputs or display style. I'll take a second look at this to see exactly what devices do work in this way and amend accordingly.

TV tuners are available for the mac (and will work with this);

- The TV Tuner was an example. I could have said Sky box or Virgin Media box or Tivo or... The point was about the lack of connectivity, not accessories.

no retina complaint is silly - the resolution would need to be over 5000 pixels (?) and would you be able to tell the difference at a normal seated distance vs a phone or ipad which is usually a lot closer to the user (ditto macbook);

- Retina iPad's silly, Retina Macbook's silly... I don't know how you use your PC but generally I find a laptop and desktop monitor are about equidistant from me when sat at a desk.

one comment is that 'you could buy a really stellar PC for less' is misleading when later in the review a Dell (admittedly with a touchscreen) is stated as coming out that is the same price and a similar spec.

- Perhaps I should have been more specific, though I thought the point reasonably clear. I meant a PC in the broadest sense - i.e. a normal desktop with seperate monitor.

To intimate that performance is lacking, but then show performance across the board being excellent is misleading. Ditto 'you do pay for upgrades though'.. yes, you do. And? AND in the Verdict you state that 'it has enough grunt for most users'.

- When do I intimate performance is lacking? I say power users and hardcore gamers will find fault because, for all this machine's power, it still can't rival a Macpro or a full size desktop PC.

- Clearly you missed the intended emphasis of the upgrades line. It was meant to emphasise that the upgrades are expensive.

So why go so hard on the iMac? (And no, im not a fanboy, just think this review is poor)

- I gave it 8/10, that's not going hard. Moreover, it's a £2000 machine (in the configuration we reviewed) so I'd damn well expect us to be exacting in our critique.

SaneVoice

January 15, 2013, 4:47 pm

Its poor value for money & not having an optical drive has made my decision not to upgrade my 3 year old 27" iMac a good decision. The screen rez is the same as mine!

August Studios

January 16, 2013, 10:08 am

I'm also at a loss for retina complaint, I use a retina iPad for all my browsing (typing on it now) but text and everything looks great on my 2012 27" iMac. I'd say my iMac is about a couple of feet away from me but really a screen this large who can comfortable sit much closer and not wear your eyes out scanning around the screen I've used the Retina MBP and it sure is pretty but you sit much closer to your laptop screen (or I do). FW is a bummer but as a commenter has said £25 adaptor gets you going and everything daisy chains as it did before (4 FW800 drives and a FW400 capture deck at the end here) also if your considering this for Prem Pro CS6 I can confirm the CUDA video card hack works a treat and with 32gb RAM on board it flies.

I'd also noticed your 21" review complain of backlighting issues, I must have got lucky because mine is just fine but that's often the LCD lottery and have been stung before exchanging multiple 24" alu cinema displays until I got one that was acceptable several years back

Still nice to see a review calling out a few issues as most reviews I've read seem to heap blind praise on it, although to my mind a few were VERY nitpicky ha ha

Simon

January 18, 2013, 2:06 pm

These all-in-ones are a bit of a con really, whether made by apple or anyone else. My opinion, obviously. You're paying a premium for laptop hardware in a desktop pc, just for the sake of having everything neatly tidied away in a single box. Miniaturisation and ultra-portability are always costly propositions, but in the desktop use-case, these are surely misplaced goals. Do people really struggle to find room for a small tower in their home offices?

Personally, I could never bring myself to spend so much money on lesser hardware. I suppose if i lived in a bedsit and i had no space, compactness would be important to me. But then, I probably wouldn't be able to afford an iMac ;) And I'm a creative professional, so design is important to me, but it should never come at the cost of practicality, and it should never come at such a cost. Good design should be available to all, regardless of budget. It doesn't need to cost the earth.

I'd like to see performance figures for 2k's worth of conventional desktop included in these reviews. Indeed, 1k's worth as well, just so people get an idea of how much extra they're paying for the performance they're getting. Dell do some relatively compact desktop solutions, so i'm not especially talking about hardcore gaming rigs with big towers, though again, their inclusion for comparative purposes would be useful.

ukpm

January 20, 2013, 10:05 pm

Are you sure that your review machine didn't have a 1TB Fusion Drive? All the other 27" review machines had that specification (3.4GHz/1TB Fusion/8GB/680MX).

ukpm

January 20, 2013, 10:21 pm

P.S. I totally agree with you about the display. I was a little disappointed to see it hadn't moved on from the previous generation. However, I don't think Retina was really an option, 5120 x 2880? What would that have costed? Besides the PPI is 108, which is better than a lot of monitors you view from 18" away.

Bob

March 15, 2013, 4:55 pm

I am a converted PC guy (which seems to have an "abuse me" tag that goes with it). Macs are easy to use. I like their programs, they make pro style movies and are easy to use. You don't have to update the OS all the time. The all in one package looks great and works great. For me, it's a simpler and less complicated computer. I'm a teacher and this has everything I want and need. I'm not too concerned with the proprietary adapters and such; it isn't a deal killer. Why hate something because Steve Jobs was an ass and Apple genius' aren't really genius'. Do your research, buy what works for you, and be happy.

Derr

April 13, 2013, 12:35 am

They make it thinner just like television market is doing to their product even thought we don't really need televisions this slim.

JBingham

May 31, 2013, 3:30 am

I do find it funny that the lack of retina display is an 'issue'.

davewyman

June 18, 2013, 5:45 am

"design is important to me, but it should never come at the cost of practicality, and it should never come at such a cost."

No one is forcing you to purchase an iMac.

What would an acceptable cost be? Who gets to decide that?

Ron Tyler

September 16, 2013, 2:15 am

I have a new super 5mm thin iMac and love it. We use it our second new HD video editing suite and have had no problems what so ever. It was 1/3 the cost of a Mac Pro and has faster connections for Hard Drives and other needed external equipment We are going to order another new iMac for our third editing bay we are building at
A.F. productions/ AFP-HD here in Tyler, Texas. Apple does great on hardware but not so good on software. Keep up the great work Apple on your hardware. You need a little work on the software and a better understanding what professionals need in software.

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