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Apple iMac MA199B/A

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      09.12.2009 07:12
      Very helpful


      • Reliability


      A workhorse that works hard for you and under £400. A cheap Mac you will love.

      No way... I am the first person to review this iMac! :O

      Well, I best be thorough with this review then.

      So, as I write this review, it is the 9th of December 2009, and this very iMac is what I am typing this review on. Believe it or not, this iMac gives computers of 2009 a run for their money.. and it was built in 2006!

      The processor is a Core Duo (NOT a Core 2 Duo, note the 2) 1.83 GHz, out of the factory it came with 512MB of RAM but is easily upgradable to a maximum of 3GB (I have 2GB), a 160GB Hard Drive, a 128MB ATI Radeon X1600 Graphics Card, a 17" Screen, Bluetooth, Wifi and all the other things computers come with. :) Now, although the CPU is an early Core Duo Intel chip, it is still very nippy. I have no problem at all running the latest Photoshop CS4, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Maya and a whole host of other high-end applications. Most of the time while I am video editing, I have Final Cut Pro and After Effects open and both are demanding programs, yet the iMac still trundles along without a problem.

      The casing on the iMac is the same as all the White plastic iMacs of it's day. Once you seen one, you've seen them all really, so I wont go into too much detail into this department.

      The graphics card is relatively good. It could of easily been a 256MB card like the later revision of the iMac was, but Apple being Apple, they release things in stages which make you want the next one and the next one and the next one.. There is one MAJOR flaw with this card, and I will explain this later on.

      Infact, I wont go into too much jargon about the iMac's specs, first review on it or not. There is only so many times you want to read the same facts over and over again about certain aspects, such as, "The wifi is good, I get good signal even from vast distances from my router" or "The screen is bright and clear, much like all Apple displays" or finally "There are 3x USB ports, 2x firewire ports and a Mini-DVI display port on this iMac" which are generic in iMacs of this age. If you are reading this review then you are thinking of buying one of these and thus probably have read quite a lot about Macs and find that most of the information is the same..

      SO, lets talk about some of the stuff that's not in other versions.

      The iSight camera (It's just a fancy named built-in webcam) is good. Under bright light it gives good and rather clear 640 x 480 video and equally good still images. Under dull light or, as in my room, an energy efficient light bulb, the images it capture become 'warm' which means you get a nice Yellow/Orange/Brown tint or glow to areas that should be White, Grey and Black. It also becomes rather noisy and in rare occasions it is seriously snowy. This is a general iSight thing, so no matter what Mac computer you get you will have this problem.

      For it's specifications, this iMac does work itself to the bone to run smoothly for you. Literally. The computer may not be as fast as some of the Mac's out there you can get, but I assure you it is fast enough for you to not care AND save a lot of money. I picked mine up for £100, a bargain considering good ones are on eBay still for about £3-400. Even if I paid £3-400, I would not complain one bit about it's speed in comparison to other, newer Macs because it never struggles, never hangs and is always nippy. I have had lots of applications running at once in the past and it worked very well under that pressure. The one big problem with this iMac in particularly is while it's working ever so hard to run for you, it slowly kills this screen.

      Let me explain. After some digging, it turns out that the Graphics Card gets very hot and this starts to produce some nice vertical lines of constant coloured pixels. I'm not sure if I can post links in reviews, but just to be safe... Go to YouTube, and search for "Vertical lines on late 2005/early 2006 iMacs" without the quotes. What you see in that video is what nearly all of these iMacs are plagued with. If you manage to own one for 3+ years without them appearing, consider yourself lucky. It all leads back to a certain factory this batch of iMacs were made in, and most have this fault, and as said my research say it is the graphics card. SO, if you manage to find one of these for cheap and say 'I'll just replace the screen', eventually the lines will re-appear as it's the card killing the screen, so it's more of a temporary fix. And expensive too, the right screen will set you back £100+!! There are work arounds, such as making a wallpaper which fades into colours the lines create, or run your iMac off an external monitor. Either will do, but I live with my lines. On most webpages that are White throughout (Like Facebook or DooYoo) you can't see them, however you definitely see them when watching movies.

      THAT said, this iMac is an amazing workhorse and if you don't mind a couple of lines popping up every so often, it works amazingly. For the price you wont be complaining, I assure you. I am a perfectionist by nature and faults annoy me, even a small scratch on something. As I know it's there it tears at my soul, but these lines after about 5 started to amuse me and now I keep tabs on them, rather than hiding them away. If you want an iMac for basic every day computing, this is perfect for you! If you want a iMac that will run high end applications, this will definitely run them! But more importantly, if you are in the market for a cheap and fast Mac, this is 100% perfect for it.


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