Small-foot iMac has a lot of kick

Slick design and multimedia prowess make the Apple iMac a strong competitor among all-in-one PCs.

The iMac all-in-one system with a 20-inch display is an amazing piece of hardware.

Apple Computer Inc. invented the all-in-one way back in the days of the Mac Classic. A lot has changed since then, however.

The GCN Lab wanted to make Apple a full participant in this review, but we ran into problems because our Alterion Corp. benchmarks are not cross-platform. They will run on an Apple system, but the results aren't comparable to PCs. So as not to compare Apples and oranges, we decided to review the iMac separately.

At first glance, it hardly even looks like a computer. The LCD is attached to a half-sphere base by a long silver arm. The half-sphere houses the CPU in a base with a diameter of only 10 inches.

The monitor rotates around the silver arm. If you often collaborate with someone else or have multiple work areas, you can simply slide the LCD to where you want to use it.

This impressive feature can't be overrated. The monitor moves horizontally or vertically in such a smooth fashion that you can sit anywhere close by and adjust the monitor for optimal viewing.
It does an excellent job of saving space, too. The single DVD-rewritable drive hides in the base. When it's retracted, you might not think there's a drive at all. I was startled the first time the drive ejected.

At $2,199, the iMac as configured for our tests would be a good purchase with its 1.25-GHz PowerPC G4 processor and 256M of RAM. Although it could not produce official benchmark results, it performed well with standard test programs such as Adobe PhotoShop and Microsoft Word.

Response time was not quite as fast as from Dell's OptiPlex SX270 but acceptable nonetheless. Mac OS X obviously does a good job of managing memory.

The base of the unit concealed three USB and two FireWire expansion ports.

Like the Sony all-in-one in this review, the iMac has one foot in the business world and one in entertainment. The large screen is perfect for watching DVD movies, and the powerful external speakers deliver great sound. From a style perspective, they also look pretty cool'like two little transparent spheres beside the main spherical base.

The iMac would make a good system for training with its easily adjustable screen and multimedia prowess.

We gave it A- for innovation and good performance. The iMac might not be the right system for everyone in the office, but it comes up aces in settings that require multimedia.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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