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As well as owning an Apple iMac 20", I constantly use the same model at work and have done so for several years. I am responsible for training people how to use this Mac in an educational institution. I train a diverse range of people of widely differing abilities, and the people vary from young children to octogenarians! It is a very rewarding job, as I get to develop my expertise in this area and I get to see how my clients flourish with their newly acquired IT skills. As a result, my review is both based on of my experience of this product and the experiences I have witnessed from my clients.
The first point I would like to make, is that I would thoroughly recommend this Mac to everyone regardless of ability. A lot of people put up barriers when you say, "Apple Mac" to them - they don't want to know, because they immediately assume that Macs are for the ordained specialists and for those arty-types in the niche creative industries. They think that Macs are alien from the "real world" of PCs, and that they're too different and difficult to use. Of course it is true that Macs are the tool of choice in graphic design and desktop publishing, but it is also fantastic for the rest of us too as I shall testify.
EASY TO INSTALL
This Mac is solid and sturdy, yet light enough to lift out of the box and place onto your desk. What I like about this Mac is that it takes up less of your desk space compared to owning a PC. With a PC you have a monitor and a separate unit, whereas a Mac combines its CPU with its monitor. There is less to dust, but better still there are fewer cables! When I viewed the back of my last PC, it was like spaghetti junction - cables all over the place for all different purposes. With my Mac, I have one power cable to plug in, which looks rather like an umbilical cord actually. I switch on the power and hey presto, my Mac is up and running!
You don't need to purchase any additional speakers, because the speakers are built-in and they produce very good sound quality. The only other cables you would need of course is an Ethernet cable for a broadband connection. You cannot use this machine for a dial-up connection, but let's face it - dial-up is dying out anyway. Furthermore there are plenty of USB ports in the rear of the Mac, should you need to install a printer. This Mac has an in-built camera and microphone, which is very discreet, but very effective. You can use it really easily as a webcam for video messaging to friends and family using Skype or iChat. You can use it also to take still photos and to record videos. It has something called Airport (I haven't used this feature), which basically helps to enable you to have secure wireless internet access. (You may need to purchase a wireless router). This Mac also has Bluetooth built-in, so you can transfer photos and music back and forth from a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone to this Mac without the need for any cables. Airport and Bluetooth functions are also good if you want the added luxury of owning a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Macs do seem more expensive than PCs, but desktop PCs do not necessarily come with speakers, webcams, microphones, dongles or even monitors! From my point of view, owning a Mac means you don't have to worry about acquiring and installing these other necessary peripherals. I should add however, that this Mac doesn't come with an in-built card reader, but should you actually need this, you can obtain one inexpensively for about tenner or less on the high street.
GIVES PEACE OF MIND
Macs are not vulnerable to viruses and spyware. This is because viruses and spyware are created for PCs with Microsoft operating systems. Microsoft operating systems are an easy target, because they have more flaws to exploit, along with the fact that more people use PCs than Macs. Macs have a different language, so they are not able to run any of these virus or spyware programs. It is because of this, that I would recommend this Mac in particular if you are buying a desktop computer for children and teenagers in mind. In my experience, I know that many children (including my nieces and nephews) who over time mash up their PCs, because they are all too ready to click on anything without reading or thinking about what dodgy things they are clicking on. As a result, it really doesn't take too long for them (or us adults for that matter) to have inadvertently downloaded trojans and an assortment of other spyware, and before you know it, the PC slows down until one day it grinds down to a halt altogether.
This Mac also has a firewall that you can easily activate to protect your privacy online. These security aspects are very important for me and they do give me the piece of mind to carry out my online activities safely and securely.
EASY TO USE AND MAKES USING A COMPUTER FUN AND REWARDING
This Mac comes with iLife which is already installed. iLife is a package of software, which includes: Garageband (music-making software), iMovie (for video editing), iDVD (for creating DVD menus and chapters), iPhoto (for photo editing and archiving), Photobooth (for taking cool photos), iTunes (for music playing, storage, and CD burning).
I have used all of these packages extensively and to summarise they are all very easy to use. They have an intuitive feel about them and the interfaces look great. This software package can help anybody young and old to produce really impressive music, photos and movies, so that we can be like the arty-types too! One of my clients is a retired lady who has edited at least 10 videos of her travel movies and burned them on DVDs to share with others, using the iLife software. I also like how these programs are seamlessly integrated - for example I can create a soundtrack for my movie on Garageband and easily transfer it my movie project on iMovie.
Most of the work you can create on a Mac can be saved in a format so that you can open it on a PC and vice-versa. For instance music files created from Garageband can be converted as an iTunes file, or as an .m4a file which is a file that is compatible for many devices including mobile phones. If you like, you can even convert you sound file to an mp3 file using the free downloadable software, Audacity.
I personally like to take advantage of the free open-sourced software that is available to download legitimately. My favourite freeware is NeoOffice. This is OpenOffice for Mac and it means that I do not have to go out and buy Microsoft Office for Mac! Firefox is my second favourite freeware. I believe it is the best Internet browser for a Mac and a PC.
If you are really still yearning for Windows, you can download the freeware Bootcamp from the Apple website. This enables you to partition a portion of your hard drive, so that you can install Windows XP onto one of your partitions. You would need to have your own copy of Windows XP on a disk to do this. I have performed this type of installation myself and it is not too hard to do, as long you read the instructions carefully. If you have any problems along the way, the Apple website and support forum is a good source of advice. Anyway, the end result is that you would be able to reboot your computer to Windows XP as and when you choose to, so that way you can get the best of both worlds. I personally prefer the Mac world though!
Using a Mac is what you make of it. Inexperienced users do not need to install Bootcamp, but I am pleased that Apple can give you plenty of freedom and support to help develop your experiences as a computer user if you want to.
© This is entirely my own work. I have also published this review under the user name dnl05 on Ciao UK.
I have had this iMac for just over 2 years now, and it is still the best machine I've ever owned.
I was a Windows/Linux PX user previous, but switching to the Mac had me wondering why I'd not switched before. Every detail is thought out, even down to the magnet on the side for your (included) Apple remote.
A built in iSight camera and microphone almost negates the need for a landline telephone! The independent software programmers for the Mac are also top notch, and you will undoubtably find a reasonably priced, beautiful program for anything you need to do.
The main reason to reward yourself with the Mac experience is that the stress is gone. No more freezing up, no more constant reboots, no more viruses, no more trying to second-guess what the hell the computer is doing.
You feel safe, you feel special, and with out a doubt you feel a step up from the average PC user stressed to the max with their constant problems. Just buy a Mac and live life for heaven's sake!
My brand new iMac arrived two weeks ago, and, after quickly (and very easily) importing all of my documents over from my old iMac I had a little play around with it.
My 'Mac has a 2.66 ghz processor and 4gb ram, which is plenty fast for your normal internet, itunes etc. If anything it's a bit of an overkill, but I like to know that I have the power in reserve just in case...
Apple's main selling point for the iMac is it's ease of use, and this I have to say is very good - OSX is simply a joy to use: it's very intuitive and oh-so-pretty. The actual Mac is also very stylish - quite how they managed to fit the computer into a relatively thin screen is beyond me, but it certainly looks very nice.
For me, the main dilemna was whether to get the 20" or the 24". The 24" is very big, and in all but the largest of spaces looks dominating. The 20" is a good comprimise - it's certainly big enough, but not too big.
Value for money has never been Apple's strong point, but to put it simply you pay for what you get. The 20" iMac is beautiful, powerful and easy to use. What more could you want?
The iMac is a machine that sells itself. It was only a few months ago that a new Apple store opened in Glasgow, until then I never considered an Apple iMac as our main computer at home. However using the iMac's in the store showed that they were very easy to use, powerful and user-friendly. The sales staff were also friendly, and unlike most similar places, not in the least bit pushy.
I went for the 20" iMac with a wireless keyboard and mouse, which costs £833. The same iMac with a wired keyboard and mouse comes in at £799. The spec is:
20" LCD widescreen display (1680 by 1050 resolution)
2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
250GB hard drive
8x double-layer slot loading SuperDrive
ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128MB memory
Built in AirPort
3 USB 2.0 ports (a further 2 USB 2.0 ports are available on the wired keyboard)
FireWire 400 port
FireWire 800 port
Built in iSight camera with microphone
Wireless Mighty Mouse
Now, £833 is a lot of money considering places like Asda are now selling desktop PC's are around £250. What is it worth the extra money? I think it is. An iMac is basically just a screen, there is no base unit, therefore saving space and using less electricity than powering a screen and a base unit. The iMac comes with a good range of software, including iTunes, and has a free 30 day trial of iWork (the Apple version of Word, Excel and Powerpoint) and a 30 day trial of Microsoft Office for Mac.
SETTING IT UP
Easy! Open the box, take the iMac out, plug it in! Done! All the software comes preloaded so it simply is a case of plugging it in and the start-up program will start automatically asking for information such as your name, address etc for registration purposes, will search for and connect to a wireless network and download any available updates. Within less than 10 minutes the iMac was ready to use.
EASE OF USE
If, like me, you're used to the Windows operating system, it will be a little awkward using the iMac at first, as nothing is where you're used to it being. For example, the button to close a screen is on the top left corner rather than the top right, but you'll soon get used to these small points within a few days.
SOUND AND VISION
The 20" screen is very capable and delivers crystal clear displays whether using a word processer, viewing videos or watching TV online. There is no blurring or distortion of the picture as I was used to on my old laptop. Also the built in speakers are excellent. In store we were told that they were very high quality, but quiet, but in our house they deliver both a great sound and at a good level of sound. True, we have them at maximum, but they are loud enough and wouldn't want them any louder. Of course, if you like your music loud, Apple does a range of speakers to suit the design of the iMac.
The iMac comes with the Apple operating system MAC OS X v10.5 Leopard, which included the standard applications such as Mail and Safari (internet browser) and other applications such as iChat, Cover Flow, Quick Look, Front Row, Photo Booth, and the iLife '08 suite, which is for creating movies, designing DVDs, websites, composing music etc.
As the majority of computers worldwide are PCs, viruses are designed to work on PCs. As Apple Mac's use an entirely different language, a PC virus won't affect an iMac, so there is no need for anti-virus protection. For added protection, the main system files in the iMac are protected by a padlock, for which you need to enter a password to allow any changes to be made. Therefore is a virus did get into you're system, it wouldn't be able to change or delete any of the system files unless you enter you're password into the pop up box asking for authorisation.
The Apple iMac is a great machine, with many advantages over PCs, such as the clarity of display and speed of operation, however if you are used to using PCs, changing to an iMac will take time to adjust. In saying that, if you live near an Apple store, they hold a range of classes and workshops for free, or you can arrange to see them for personal training and advice on using your new Apple computer.
A brilliant looking computer that performs well. All macs are coded differently to windows computers meaning it is basically impossible to get a virus which is good news.
The computer has 1gb of RAM which results in programs opening in a flash - i regularly have around 5 programs open at the same time and have no adverse afects. The 20" TFT monitor provides a crisp and clear display which is great for viewing movies and playing new games.
The only problem with this computer is that some software is not mac compatible but it is very rare that i have this problem.
The core 2 duo proccessor is outrageously fast and perfect for playing the latest games on your computer.
The Imac is aprobably the best looking computer i have ever seen and looks great in a trendy apartment or even the family home. Everyone should have a mac!
The fastest iMac ever, it provides professional performance along with the convenience of an all-in-one design. It features the new 64-bit Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The new processor delivers up to 50% more performance. The result? Turbocharged performance, making it easier - and more fun - than ever to work with digital photos, movies, music, and the web.