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The Apple iMac MB950B all-in-one computer with 4GB Ram, 21.5" screen, 3.06ghz Processor, was my first jump into the world of Apple computers (I already had an early iPod).
I really didn't know what to expect, or how good it would be (or not as the case might be). I'd bought it online direct from Apple, so didn't have the chance to discuss the differences between the Mac OS and Windows, however there's plenty of information online to help anyone with any problems.
The first thing I noticed was just how simple the Mac OS is, compared to Windows and more importantly for the benefit of this review, just how good the iMac was.
I opted for the wireless keyboard and mouse to free up some desk space and get away from a myriad of cables. Initially I did worry that this may be a problem as of course many keys on a full size keyboard (the Apple wireless keyboard does not have a separate number board) seemed to be missing, but once you get used to using the Function, Command, Control and Alt/Option keys, you soon find everything you need.
The mouse worked flawlessly. It uses special sensors to determine whether you're clicking left or right on the mouse, without actually having a left or right button. Cool...
The LCD screen, although not HD really does pop out the colours, however if there is one issue I have, you will get image burn, specifically where the Desktop Icons are, however it's not a massive issue if you keep them minimised
The case is superb. Cast aluminium and solid. Can't say more really.
The processor is fairly slick and does what it needs to do, however chip tech has moved on and it is beginning to struggle a little now.
Overall, well worth the money and great fun...
PC or Mac? Difficult choice but my great preference has always been for PC. I love them. Started with a 120Mhz pentium on a 1.5Gb HDD running Windows 95. Since then have had every incarnation of Windows (some good and some bad) and find that the basic OS is easy to get into 'nuts and bolts' for tweaking performance.
Typically early PC's were horrendous beige boxes which didn't really change in the mainstream until people started to modify their PC's or upgraded components for gaming purposes. I had a couple of performance cases with the cut out designed windows and LED lighting but they never really had a truly stylish appeal. Sure I upgraded a couple into what became monster powerhouses but they were more Corvette than Aston Martin.
Enter Apple. Pretty much the same in the beginning and with a tiny market share for the home user. As some in the industry wrote them off they pulled out the iMac from their hat and people stopped to notice what could be done with some intelligent design and a little boldness. Instantly recognisable it became an iconic figure which really revolutionised computer design.
Since then Apple have continued to inexplicably design and produce tech of natural beauty and others can merely imitate. An argument of style over functionality can be thrown at them from time to time but this is tit for tat. Apple make premium products at premium prices.
The latest incarnation of the popular iMac range is a frankly stunning thing of beauty. Almost too good to be true when you put it side by side with the average PC set up. But true it is. The case is made from a single piece of aluminium as is machined and finished to perfection. The lower part of the front holds only the Apple logo and is dominated by the beautiful LED screen which measure in a 21.5 inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The colours are bright and vibrant leaving most displays trailing well behind. Resolution is full HD at 1920*1080 and if you decide to opt for the larger screen the pixel count is well in excess of high definition.
Keyboard and mouse are wireless a standard and are controlled by Bluetooth. In keeping with the uber stylish approach the keyboard has been minimalised to the nth degree and is very small. The main part of the body is only a couple of millimeters thick and a separate numeric pad has been axed leaving only the number keys above the letters.
Similarly the mouse has been slimmed right down and now has intelligent touch sensitivity along the top surface. Scrolling up and down requires a slight swipe of the finger and feels so much more natural than a wheel. Additionally you can sweep two fingers left and right to flick between web pages and photos. Pinch to zoom has not been incorporated into this mouse however for those with iPhones.
The base model uses the familiar Intel Core Duo and is clocked at a healthy 3.06 Ghz and this supported by 4Gb of DDR3 RAM clocked at 1066 Mhz. This is a very good starting point for a 'base model' and provides more than enough power for the average user, in fact most users. Storage is through a 500Gb ATA HDD which runs at 7200rpm. I have to say that the HDD is almost silent and you will notice a distinct lack of noise whatever you are doing. Neighbours excluded. Wifi is 802.11 a/b/g/n and is fast and easy to configure during the initial setup. The 21.5 inch uses nVidia 9400m graphics integrated onto the motherboard and does a fine job of HD playback though I haven't tried any serious gaming on this chipset. A megapixel camera is discreetly located in the upper screen surround and can be used for VoIP with the built in microphone and speakers.
This leaves the optical drive or what Apple like to call 'Superdrive'. It's a multi format writer and supports dual layer disk and can write to DVD at up to 8x speed. A glaring omission here is the lack of support for Blu Ray. Given the absolutely stunning screen quality and HD resolution it would have been the obvious choice for an optical drive. Quite why Apple have gone down this road is a mystery but hey. The discs are slot loaded on the right hand side of the unit just above the SD card reader.
Connectivity is catered for by four USB 2.0 ports and a single Firewire 800 port. In keeping with the minimalist design they are hidden behind the right side of the main display. On the opposite side is the on/off button which is perfectly flush with the case and easily missed.
OS/X 10.6 Snow Leopard is standard and is fairly straight forward and very impressive looking. Not as accessible as Windows but it will do everything you can think of and more.
Fantastic design heritage and stunning looks make the iMac an utterly essential purchase. The high technical specification of even the lowest machine is just the icing on the cake. Perhaps a bit elitist but certainly a joy to use. Expect a heavy hammering on your credit card in the region of £950 but you can upgrade to 1Tb of storage or the larger 27 inch screen if you have platinum status.