Apple iMac MC812B/A (2011) - Connectivity, Screen and Speakers Review


Along with the upgraded internals, connectivity is another

area where things have taken a significant step forward. Along the right edge,

Apple has incorporated the usual memory card reader and slot-loading DVD-rewriter.

The card reader takes SDXC, so it’s well up to the latest standard. However, for

those hoping that – this time around – they would finally get in on the

high-definition movie action with a Blu-ray drive, dream on.


Frankly, this is one of the iMac’s major remaining failings.

After all, it’s all very well for Steve Jobs to decide Apple users don’t need

or want Blu-ray in their machines, but we’re sure there are quite a few who

disagree – especially since its IPS-panel screen makes for nicer viewing than

most rivals (excepting the aforementioned HP TouchSmart 610, which also uses IPS).  

 Apple iMac 21.5in (2011) 2

At the back, there are 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks

(doing double duty as optical digital audio in and out), four USB 2.0 ports, a

FireWire connector, Gigabit Ethernet jack and that magical

Thunderbolt port, here in the shape of a mini DisplayPort connector. Thunderbolt (formerly known as Light

Peak) can use a connector

that’s physically identical to that of this graphics standard, but in addition

to DisplayPort’s impressive video capabilities it also gives you an independent

data link, making it a USB 3.0 alternative.


For more on USB 3.0, read our article: What is USB 3.0 and do you want it?. The advantage to Thunderbolt is that it

offers a whopping 10Gb/s bi-directional transfer rate, but USB 3.0 is – for now

and the near future – far more prevalent, and backwards compatible with USB

2.0. However, for the first time since FireWire’s glory days, we can now

finally say that Apple offers a fast connectivity standard for external

storage, even if there are very few compatible devices as yet.

 Apple iMac 21.5in (2011)

On the wireless front, we’re given both Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth

2.1 EDR.


The screen is a 21.5in affair with the Full

HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution you would expect from this size, giving you

plenty of desktop real estate and letting you watch 1080p videos in all their

detail. It features the almost-flawless viewing angles, accurate colours and

decent contrast an IPS panel provides, making for an excellent overall viewing

experience if you can get past the reflective glass layer. However, the

competition is catching up here, with the TouchSmart 610 once again providing

an apt comparison with its larger, 23in IPS panel.


If you want more resolution and an even larger screen,

Apple’s 27in iMac remains unmatched. Essentially the Apple Cinema Display 27in with a computer built-in, its 2,560 x 1,440 pixel

resolution will give you more pixels than your computer might be able to

handle. If the screen is your primary concern, it’s also worth noting that the

first-generation 27in iMac (with a Core 2 Duo processor) can now be had for

under £900, £100 less than the cheapest current 21.5in iMac.

 Apple iMac 21.5in (2011) 6

Another area where iMacs have always been strong is on the

audio front, something the latest update certainly doesn’t change. Quite how

Apple manages to squeeze so much volume and bass from the iMac’s thin frame and

17watt, down-facing stereo speakers is beyond us, and though clarity is a

little lacking, for general entertainment you don’t really need external alternatives.