Home Your IT Home IT New iMac: set to rule the all-in-one pack?
Profiled: Apple's new 5mm edge-thin iMac Profiled: Apple's new 5mm edge-thin iMac Image Credit: iFixit Featured

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Apple’s new Fusion-upgradeable and 5mm edge-thin iMacs have landed in Australia in their 21.5-inch configurations, with the 27-inch model still due sometime later this month, with a totally new design and faster parts to tempt iMac owners into a late 2012 upgrade!

It’s not just new iPhones, iPads and MacBooks that excite current and future Apple owners, but new iMacs too, especially when they come with faster I/O ports, faster processors, more RAM, better storage options and a better screen that delivers much less glare.

I finally got to see the new iMac today, and was able to marvel at Apple’s molecular welding technique, the unprecedented thin edge design (that predictably doesn’t score well on iFixit’s end-user repairability scale, teardown here), and an IPS panel that eliminates the previous 2mm air-gap between screen and top glass while delivering a claimed 75% less glare.

While the screen did look fantastic, we also look at things now through Retina-spoiled eyes on iPads and MBPs with Retina displays, leading me to more easily see the pixels on the 21.5-inch iMac once I was looking for them.

However, just as the lack of Retina displays hasn’t affected the iPad mini, so too does it not affect the stunning all-in-one that is Apple’s iMac, and has been now for well over a decade.

There’s also the lack of a touch screen, something that most of Apple’s competitors are including on their new Windows 8 powered all-in-one devices.

However, despite the fact that touch is a wonderful and amazing thing, something Apple has so aptly and ably demonstrated itself with iOS and its iDevices, Mac OS X and iMacs are still traditional computers, designed for the pinnacle of keyboard and mouse usage.

All of the major apps on the Apple platform are designed for keyboard and mouse, alongside a magic trackpad if you have one, something all MacBooks are equipped with as standard, although a separate purchase for iMac buyers.

Just as with iMacs in the past, there are no visual annoyances on the iMac display – no blinking or flashing lights, no “on” light, no flickering hard disk light, no buttons that light up, nothing to distract you from the “gorgeous” display and the task at hand – a task designed for keyboard and mouse usage.

I’m sure Apple has a multi-touch enabled iOS X hybrid the works that will see a future iMac ‘slide’ down to meet you, angled towards you ready for multi-touch anything, then ready to slide back up to sit as a regular monitor, but we probably won’t see that until this time in 2013 or 2014.

Until then, what Apple was selling last week has just been upgraded with a tremendously stylish and visual amazing facelift, faster processors, faster hardware, USB 3.0, 2 x Thunderbolt ports and plenty more, including fast discrete graphics options and of course the option of the incredible SSD and HDD hybrid drive that is Apple’s Fusion Drive.

Sure, there’s no DVD burner inbuilt anymore, but external slimline DVD burners from Samsung and LG are less than $40 to buy in computer stores, and if you want an official Apple SuperDrive DVD burner, they’re approx. AUD $89 to buy in stores in Australia.

AppleInsider points to review complaints about the new iMac's speakers, saying they lack bass "fiddly".

While I briefly heard the speakers today and they sounded more than good enough for casual listening, I didn't get the chance to test them more thoroughly with a range of music.

However as with most built-in speakers inside of anything, if you truly want better sound you're going to have to plug in speakers, and it's no real surprise people are effectively saying the same thing here.

When it comes to performance, you’ll get even more of it if you upgrade the included 1TB 5400 RPM drive to a new Fusion drive, which blends 128GB of SSD with 1TB of hard drive storage, letting you use the super speedy SSD to store your OS, pre-loaded apps and the data that OS X determines would be benefit the end-user by living on SSD, and then rest being able to live on the room HDD and called up as needed.

Sadly that upgrade is about $300 at the time of purchase, but that’s still in line with the kind of premium you pay for an SSD, sweetened with all the extra HDD storage Fusion delivers.

Clearly, if you’re a Windows user who wants to continue the Windows experience, while taking advantage of the multi-touch features that Windows 8 all-in-one desktops are now delivering, then an iMac isn’t likely to be on your priority list, even though Parallels and VMWare Fusion do a great job of running XP, Vista, 7 and 8 in virtual sessions on modern Macs.

However, if you’re an existing Mac user who needs something new, or is sick of the world of Windows and wants an OS with virtually all the top apps, right down to Microsoft Office, alongside dramatically less chance of typical Windows malware infestation, the new iMacs have come at an opportune time.

And while the CPU and chipset hardware upgrades are always welcome (and usually always late with Apple, compared to PC makers), Apple’s stunning design kicks in just in time, too – just in time to make the competition look disturbingly “thick” – even though that Windows 8 based competition comes with the allure of full multi-touchery.

After all, Apple already offers the world’s best multi-touch platform, iOS, which plenty of people who do and don’t already own iMacs and/or MacBooks already use.

Macs can certainly be used for gaming, browsing, email, social media etc, but they’re also used for the truly serious work that’s still, at least to some degree, harder (but certainly nowhere near impossible) to achieve on a touch tablet than with a keyboard and mouse/trackpad.

No, I’m not saying you can’t create content on the iPad – you can, more than ever before, in ways that Microsoft surely deeply wishes people would create, and quickly, for its new Windows 8 platform.

To conclude, Apple’s new iMacs are here, and while they’re quite emotionally touching while not yet responding to your fingertips (on screen), they are the pinnacle of traditional desktop computing, perfect for anyone that simply needs or wants a fast new Mac – one that typically makes its predecessors and competitors look more than a little plump.

What else can we say? Apple’s new iMacs. They’re not as thick as some!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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