Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Apple iMac (27in, mid-2010)
Apple's iMac desktop PC lacks HDMI connectivity and Blu-ray support, but internal upgrades will keep most users happy
- LED-backlit display, excellent design and construction, good performance, new processors and graphics cards
- No HDMI or Blu-ray, no number pad on included keyboard, glossy display can be distracting
Apple's latest iMac retains an identical design to earlier iMacs but features upgraded internal components. If you've recently purchased an iMac there isn't enough to justify an upgrade, but if you're looking to purchase your first Mac or want to upgrade an older model then you should be pleased.
Price$ 2,599.00 (AUD)
Apple has updated its range of iMac desktop computers, with faster processors and better graphics the order of the day. The new iMac looks virtually identical to its predecessors, but the internal upgrades will keep most users happy — though HDMI connectivity and Blu-ray playback are still absent.
The Apple iMac remains a fine piece of industrial design. The brushed aluminium finish and glossy black bezel surrounding the display look superb, though not everyone will appreciate the glossy finish of the screen. It is especially distracting under fluorescent lighting, and, unlike Apple's MacBook Pro range, there is no build-to-order option for a matte screen. The 27in display suffers from horizontal colour shift at around 170 degrees, while the rear casing gets quite warm but not hot during regular use. The iMac is far from being the cheapest all-in-one desktop PC, but its design is certainly attractive. Minimal cables, an integrated silver stand, a slot-loading DVD drive and a handy SD card slot on the right side are all part of the design. Apple claims the iMacs meet Energy Star 5.0 requirements, use PVC-free internal components and are constructed using highly recyclable materials.
Apple bundles its wireless aluminium keyboard and wireless Magic Mouse with the iMac. The keyboard disappointingly lacks a numeric keypad and its compact size makes it look abnormally small next to the iMac, but the well spaced keys are easy to type on. The curved Magic Mouse looks sleek, but its flat design means using it can feel uncomfortable after prolonged periods. The main benefit of the Magic Mouse is the touch sensitive surface that can be used for finger gestures like pinching to zoom, and scrolling. The gestures aren't customisable and lack as many options as those seen on the MacBook Pro's multi-touch trackpad, but iMac users can order Apple's Magic Trackpad to get more extensive gesture support.
Being an all-in-one system, the iMac has expandability issues. Only the RAM can be upgraded; there are dual SO-DIMM slots for DDR3 memory and the iMac supports a maximum of 8GB of RAM. The top-of-the-range 27in iMac we tested is powered by a 2.80GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 7200rpm, 1TB hard disk drive. It also has an ATI Radeon HD 5750 graphics card with 1GB of memory, and includes a slot-loading 8x SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning. There is no support for Blu-ray discs, which will perturb many potential buyers.
The new iMac also features Bluetooth 2.1, AirPort Extreme wireless networking (802.11n) and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The rear casing houses one FireWire 800 port, four USB 2.0 ports, an optical digital audio output and audio line-in. A mini DisplayPort connector is also included for connection to Apple's Cinema Display, though you'll need to purchase extra adapters should you wish to use regular VGA, DVI or dual-link DVI connections.
The iMac ships with Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.6, as well as iLife '09, Apple's suite of consumer applications consisting of iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb and GarageBand. The intuitive Front Row software remains an excellent media feature of the iMac, but Apple charges $29 for the wireless remote — an accessory that was included with some previous versions of the iMac.
Using Geekbench testing software, the iMac 27in yielded an impressive score of 6895 points. This is higher than the previous range of iMacs we tested, though at the time we didn't test the most powerful configuration available. Using iTunes, the 27in iMac took just 33 seconds to encode 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s.
As with all of its computers, Apple bundles Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. You also get a copy of iLife 09, which includes iMovie, Garage Band and iPhoto software. Apple's productivity suite, iWork 09, isn't included.
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