Review: Apple iMac 'aluminum'
August 21st, 2007
Apple's latest iMac was introduced on August 7th, 2007. This 'aluminum' iMac features 20-inch and 24-inch widescreen LCD displays along with a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo, a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, or a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Extreme processor. Properly configured, the new iMac meets or exceeds Information Systems & Computing's (ISC's) Performance PC specification.
The 'aluminum' iMac resembles Apple's iPhone in its general look and feel, with the most obvious similarities being the use of glass and aluminum. The front of the system also has more than a little resemblance to Apple's LCD Cinema Displays. The new iMac uses the same basic form factor as the previous generation iMac, but in an enclosure that is significantly thinner (though it only weighs a few pounds less).
The iMac carries most of the ports that one would expect on an Apple desktop. Newly included in the 20-inch configuration is FireWire 800 and both sizes now include draft 802.11n Wi-Fi. Both video cards available support DirectX 10, so Windows Vista support and speed when running in Apple's Boot Camp beta is improved.
The 'aluminum' iMac is speedy in general use, easily handling the latest versions of the University's Supported Products when upgraded to the recommended 2.0 GB of RAM. The glass-covered screen does take a bit of getting used to but does not seem to be as reflective as some other glossy displays - users on the fence about this characteristic may want to spend some time actually using a demo iMac, such as the one in the Computer Connection's showroom. While observing the screen, it's probably worthwhile to test the new wired Apple Keyboard for usability and feel (though, of course, the keyboard can be replaced by another USB or Bluetooth keyboard if necessary or preferred).
The iMac works as expected with the University's supported products, except that a late-breaking software change causes the current version of the Network Applications Installer on the PennConnect DVD to install the incorrect binary of Adobe Reader 8.1. Installing from the individual Adobe Reader installer or Adobe's 'factory' installer yields the correct result. ISC will make an updated Network Applications Installer available as soon as possible.
Several notes when ordering an iMac:
At least at this time in August 2007, it appears that Apple is moving away from the low-end iMac business. The current generation entry level iMac has climbed from approximately $1000 to $1150, though the 17-inch previous generation iMac with integrated graphics is still available from the Apple Store for Education for approximately $850 (approximately $950 built to the University's Value PC specification).
Properly upgraded to 2.0 GB of RAM, the new iMac meets or exceeds ISC's Performance PC specification. As always, support providers should be aware of the technical issues associated with any new workstation design.
Apple's iMac product page
iMac graphic courtesy of Apple
--John Mulhern III, Senior Project Leader, ISC Technology Support Services (August 21st, 2007)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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