I hooked up my own DV camcorder and actually did something with some of the hours of footage I’ve taken of my children that is just sitting on tapes. In a few minutes I’d found a couple of choice scenes, put them together, with a cool transition and uploaded it directly to my You Tube account. This is the beauty of the iMac – it actually makes you want to do things, that you never get round to do, because it makes it easy and accessible.
Now it’s easy to be cynical about Macs and no one does it better than Charlie Brooker in this wonderfully acerbic article from the Guardian. I really wouldn’t want to be one of those smug turtle neck people that think Macs are the second coming. But having used this iMac for several days, it’s clear to me that for the vast majority of people this is really the only computer they’ll need.
Mac always used to be lovely to use, but compromised in some crucial ways particularly with price. Now for £799 all in, you’ve got it all. Indeed, get Boot Camp and you can even use Vista or XP on your iMac should you need to.
Of course, one group I’m not including is gamers. The HD Radeon X2400 in this is fine for image work, and video editing, but when it comes to pushing polygons it’s only middling. It’s not quite as bad as Brooker puts it – “The only way to have fun with a Mac is to poke its insufferable owner in the eye” – there are a number of games that have recently become available for the Mac such as Battlefield 2 and Need for Speed, but really, if you want to game seriously buy an Xbox 360 or have a gaming PC as well.
Other criticisms you could level are the lack of a TV tuner, which really would make sense for this all in one machine. Instead you’ll have to rely on third part solutions, which won’t be integrated into Front Row. The lack of an HD DVD or Blu-ray option bothers me slightly, though realistically the format war and the high cost has pretty much put a kibosh on it appearing on Apple’s option list. Fussy image specialists might also not be satisfied with the display image quality, while there isn’t really enough horsepower for real desktop gaming – think of it as playing on a laptop.
All in though, this is a fantastic machine, sleek, fast, quiet and easy to use. It’s also very easy on the eye. Inevitably, there’s still a price differential compared to the cheapest PCs, but there’s no way you can consider this spec bad value. There’s no doubt that when the van comes to pick up this box, I’ll be waving a tearful goodbye.
Apple’s 20in iMac lives up to the hype. It’s a lovely machine to look at and to use, and even in its base spec it’s fast enough for the average person and very good value too. In a nutshell, it’s the best desktop computer around, though you might want to wait for Leopard, the next version of MacOSX, due very soon, before going for it.
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