New Apple iMac is jaw-dropping yet incomplete

Beautiful as it is, the 27-inch iMac still lacks some important options that would make it the ultimate all-in-one PC.

Apple's new 27-inch iMac is so beautifully designed that it's easy to look past its most glaring defects. Yes, there are other 27-inch displays out there, but I've yet to see one with the 2560x1440 resolution that Apple is offering. This approaches the resolution of 30-inch monitors like the Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP-HC, which lists for $US1300 and has a resolution of 2560x1600. Given the iMac's $US1700 starting price and the fact that its mini DisplayPort can be used as an input, it's possible to think of the 27-inch iMac as a slightly overpriced Apple display that includes a free computer. I almost never say this about Apple products, but this is a great value.

Apple refreshed its iMac lineup with some new features. It (finally) includes an SD slot, and the line-up now offers the option of a quad-core processor. The new multi-touch mouse looks great, too, and it's wireless (as is the included keyboard).

But given that Apple touts its iMac as "perfect for HD video", the fact that Apple still doesn't offer a Blu-Ray player is annoying. This omission is somewhat forgivable since there is a video input. Unfortunately, mini DisplayPort is your only option. Seriously Apple, would it really have offended your aesthetics to offer an HDMI port? Sure, adapters are available, but I hate being nickel and dimed over Apple's stubborn video interface preferences. Offering a TV tuner would have been a nice touch, too.

The other obvious omission is the lack of an SSD option. Since I installed an Intel X25-M in my laptop, I'd have a difficult time considering a new computer without one. The difference in responsiveness is just too dramatic to ignore. While it's trivial for those with even the most basic of screwdriver skills to replace the drive in a MacBook, swapping out the disk in an iMac requires significant skill. Why Apple doesn't provide this option for iMacs is beyond me.

Still, back to that gorgeous 27-inch display, it's like a super-model so breathtaking that you almost don't notice she can't turn left. In light of all that IPS LED backlit goodness, professionals won't sweat the omitted features. The more pixels you have in front of you, the more productive you will be. Apple gets it.

As a final note, Apple was smart about the timing of its newest offering, at least for me personally. This machine will look perfect on my desk running Windows 7 Ultimate with Boot Camp.

Michael Scalisi is an IT manager based in Alameda, California.

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