Ctrl+Alt+Delete: The iMac 2021 is the most exciting Apple gadget in years
Apple revealed a load of new products earlier this week, including the iPad Pro 2021 and AirTags, but it was the iMac 2021 that stole the show. In fact, I’ll go even further. The iMac 2021 is one of the most exciting Apple products I’ve seen in years.
That’s admittedly a big claim given Apple is launching so many devices these days, from iPhones and Macs to smart speakers and TV boxes. But the iMac is one of the only recent Apple products I can think of that offers such a significant upgrade that it leaves its competitors in the dust – at least judging from the specs since I’m yet to review it.
What about the MacBook Air? The lightweight laptop was fitted with the same Apple M1 processor long before the new iMac was revealed, so you could easily make a case for it being just as exciting. But Apple hasn’t given it a redesign yet, so it still feels rather outdated compared to the likes of the Dell XPS 13 and Razer Book 13.
The laptop space is also far more competitive than the all-in-one PC market. While the MacBook Air beats out all of its competitors in terms of performance, there are plenty of ultrabook alternatives that offer superior designs, features and screens.
This isn’t the case for the iMac 2021. The Surface Studio 2 is one of the most renowned desktop PC rivals, but Microsoft hasn’t updated its range since 2018. Of course, the likes of Dell, HP and Lenovo all have a great selection of all-in-one PCs too, but they’re not as extravagant or powerful as Apple’s iMac.
The powerful M1 processor, super-detailed 4.5K retina display and speedy SSD all look to be the best specs you can find in an all-in-one PC. And while the £1249/$1299 starting price can hardly be considered cheap, I highly doubt any custom-built PC can be built with comparative specs with this budget – a 4K monitor can cost over £300/$300 alone.
I’m all for the new colour options too. Apple could have easily just slimmed down the bezel and continued shipping silver iMacs, but by offering a whopping seven colour options, users can now brighten up their working space and add some personalisation.
The iMac 2021 is also launching at a perfect time, with working from home now considered to be a viable long-term option. With an improved webcam, Thunderbolt connectivity and optional Touch ID support on the keyboard, Apple has equipped the iMac with everything required to make working from home an enjoyable experience.
That’s not to say the iMac 2021 is perfect. Without testing it, I can already spot a few concerning weak points. The entry-level 256GB SSD feels very stingy. If you’re working with a lot of apps, images and video, your hard drive is going to fill up very quickly. 512GB is now widely considered to be an ideal storage capacity for entry-level models, but Apple is setting a £1649/$1699 price for that storage option.
I’m also sceptical about the port situation. Apple is only offering two Thunderbolt ports on the iMac, so there’s no room for the likes of HDMI, an SD Card reader or USB-A which is still widely used for plugging in peripherals and USB sticks.
Apple clearly thinks the iMac’s user base doesn’t have a need for such ‘legacy’ ports, with Thunderbolt supporting data transfer and display output in an all-in-one solution. I’m not confident that’s the case though, as there have been plenty of complaints about laptops that have ditched the USB-A port. Apple is even rumoured to make a U-turn for the MacBook Pro 2021, adding in more ports rather than relying on USB-C, although this laptop is admittedly aimed at professionals that work heavily with video etc.
There could be plenty more iMac 2021 faults too, but I’ll have to wait until I can test it for myself to find out. But judging from the specs sheet at this early stage, I reckon there are far more many positives than negatives with the new iMac.
It’s an incredibly exciting gadget, and I hope this is a sign of things to come for future Apple products. Keep an eye on Trusted Reviews for our upcoming review, and let us know what you think about the iMac 2021 by sending us a message on Twitter.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.