One thing we didn’t really expect from the iMac was decent speakers, but delivers them it does. We’re still not talking high fidelity quality here, but the iMac speakers deliver a pleasing warm and powerful sound that’s suitable for music and film viewing. Dialogue, in videos, is crystal clear and there’s even a little bass to be had, though nothing too raucous.
As noted earlier the iMac doesn’t come with wireless peripherals as standard, but you do get a mouse and keyboard and the choice between a full-size keyboard (with number pad) or the compact version we’ve received. Apple’s peripherals can be an acquired taste, especially for those moving from a PC, but time tends to paint them in better light.
If you’re short on space this is one of the best compact keyboards you’re likely to find since, except the slightly narrower Return key, the layout remains relatively uncompromised. Keys have a decent level of depth and feedback and though the isolated style keys always take a little getting used to, once you do, your typing speed should pick up. We probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone whose spends all day typing at their desk, but for semi-regular use it’s very good.
We’re less convinced by Apple’s self-titled “Mighty Mouse”, though. Ergonomically it’s reasonable and should, in theory, be completely ambidextrous. This is the case in its three-button configuration, where there’s a single primary button, the centre scroll-ball click (pre-configured to display the Dashboard) and the pinch buttons on the side for Exposé. Yet, in the four-button configuration, where a right-click button is created through pressure sensitivity, the responsiveness becomes very flaky when used left-handed. This is true, albeit to a lesser extent, when used right-handed too, so though it is significantly better than most OEM mice it’s not really up to Apple’s typically high standards.
Our only other criticisms, somewhat typically for an Apple product, consist of things Apple has chosen not to include. Some kind of video input, though hardly essential, would be a nice option, especially when an increasing number of camcorders and cameras feature some variety of HDMI – not to mention games consoles or Blu-ray players.
More crucial, however, is Apple’s continued ambivalence toward Blu-ray. Were we still entrenched in a format war its trepidation would be entirely understandable, but now it just smacks of intransigence, so you’ll excuse us if we don’t whoop and holler if/when Apple finally announces Blu-ray support in some months time as it so often does. Thus, if you do want or need Blu-ray, you do have to look at the likes of Sony, Dell and HP for a Blu-ray equipped all-in-one, albeit one that will cost more than Apple’s offering.
Unlike the Mac mini, whose virtues are more contentious depending on your view, the iMac – particularly in its 24in guise – is an easier sell. It helps that most alternative 24in all-in-one’s are more expensive, largely due to a greater emphasis on multimedia features, but it doesn’t change the fact that the iMac is an iconic piece of design that also delivers as a powerful and – lack of Blu-ray excluded – well featured desktop replacement that benefits from one vital and so far unmentioned attribute: Apple OS X.
Score in detail