At the top of the monitor is a built-in webcam – the iSight. I’ve always wondered if the quality of this small thing could compete with the older separate iSight camera, which has a large body, but this one impressed me with decent colours and smooth motion. There’s a neat little app called Photo Booth that let’s you take snaps with a cute countdown effect when you press the button, and a range of fun effects to apply. A small green light appears when the iSight is in action.
Round the side, you’ll find the 8-speed DVD burner, slot-loading of course, though that does mean you can’t use non standard sized discs, at least without an adaptor. It will write to dual-layer discs at up to 4x speed, and to single layer discs at 8-speed. It will also handle CDs- 24-speed burning for CD-R and 16x for CD-RW. However, there is no option for any kind of HD optical disc. Apple has in the past made Blu-ray supporting noises, but it’s made no commitment with this new refresh. If it is Blu-ray friendly, that could be why it doesn’t even offer it as a high end option – because the cost is still too great. We were told though that internally the screen does support HDCP so you could in theory upgrade with an external drive and watch DRM equipped movies. I still wish it could have been an option to have integrated.
Round the back of the iMac you’ll find just a single power cable emerging from the middle of the rear. Below, this there’s a small security slot, to keep your iMac from wandering off. Towards the bottom left you’ll find a row of connections. Headphone and line out I’ve already mentioned, and you’ll also find four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 400 port and also a FireWire 800 port, which is very unusual to find integrated onto PC motherboards. Next to this is a Gigabit Ethernet socket and then next to this is a mini DVI port, so you can add a second DVI or D-Sub based monitor for dual screen action, though the cable doesn’t come in the box and you’ll have to head off to the online Apple store to get one.
When it comes to performance the iMac felt remarkably smooth and quick to me, even though I at first thought the 1GB of RAM that comes as standard to be a limitation. It’s only really so if you start to you push your iMac with heavy duty tasks and have multiple applications open. For regular use the 1GB is sufficient, which is different from Windows Vista, which feels sluggish with less than 2GB. If you do want to upgrade the RAM after your initial purchase you can do so by removing the speaker grille, with the manual taking you through the process.