GCN Lab Review: Apple iMac

The iMac from Apple is an all-in-one system that has a very good ergonomic feel. However, like iMacs of the past, there are few upgrade opportunities.

We were impressed by the iMac's form factor. Everything but the mouse and keyboard is in a case that doesn't use much more room than its 20-inch LCD screen would alone. The stand allows for a good 15 degrees of tilt that lets users find the best angle no matter a person's position.

On the back of the LCD, which is also the computer, there are three USB ports, which is not many. True, there are two on the keyboard, but once you get it and the mouse connected, you are left with one on the keyboard and two on the back. And the keyboard ports are tucked under the edge of the plastic case, making it impossible to use most portable flash drives there without an extender cable. It does have two FireWire ports, one 400 and one 800, and a mini-DVI port for connecting another display. On the front is a built-in microphone and webcam. So for teleconferencing or even film editing, the iMac would be a great choice.

Inside is a 320G Serial Advanced Technology Attachment hard drive, the largest in the review. Its ATI Radeon HD 2600 pro is more than adequate for any graphics-related task. The iMac also has a built-in Air- Port Extreme 802.11n wireless network card, so lightning-quick wireless access is guaranteed and hassle-free.

Fortunately, for the purposes of our tests, which run in Windows, the iMac has the BootCamp software, a utility that makes it fairly easy to repartition the hard drive. Then you can install Windows XP or Vista and have a dual-boot system.

In the performance test, the iMac did not perform as well as most of the others in the review, producing a score of 783. This may be because the iMac is optimized for use with OS X as opposed to Windows.

The iMac's greatest weakness stems from its greatest strength. Because it is a compact, all-in-one system, there is no room for significant upgrades. There is actually no way to get inside to replace any components, save one. The memory modules can be accessed by a screw-secured plate at the bottom of the screen. But even with that, both slots are already full with a 1G chip each.

Apple is retailing the iMac for $1,499 as configured for this review, a decent price for a system such as this. The government price of $1,364 is a better bargain.

Apple, (800) 692-7753, http://www.apple.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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