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Review roundup: New iMac display and redesigned chassis shine, audio a step back

post #1 of 165
Thread Starter 
Reviews for Apple's new iMacs are starting to hit the web just hours after the all-in-one officially launched at Apple Stores and resellers worldwide on Friday, and so far the two standout features appear to be the unit's laminated display and slim design.

iMac


Both CNET and The Verge published their respective takes on Apple's sleek new desktop, each finding that the display is the unit's centerpiece feature despite being the same IPS panel used in last year's model. For 2012, the iMac is using a new process that laminates the LCD to the front glass, minimizing reflections up to a claimed 70 percent.

Performance also gets a bump with new silicon from Intel, starting with the chip maker's Core i5 CPU and topping out with a 3.4GHz Core i7 processor, as well as graphics provided by NVIDIA's GeForce GT and GTX lines. Apple's Fusion Drive adds to system speed by lowering read-write times, however the solution is not standard a feature and must be added during configuration.

According to CNet, which reviewed a high-end 27-inch model only, the new iMac is one of the best performing all-in-ones it has ever tested.

From CNet's review:
A thin bezel is nice to look at, but it doesn't improve processing speed, workflow, or overall utility. Fortunately for Apple, it evolved that design from a computer with a strong technical foundation. It is the updates to that foundation, and a few points of polish along the way, that keep this iMac on elite footing.



The Verge also found the iMac to be a strong performer, but noted that the current 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display put up comparable Geekbench scores. The publication believes Apple's Fusion Drive, while one of the "best features" offered, is overpriced because the option is only available on certain higher-end machines.

Another quibble is the lack of bass fidelity with the iMac's speakers. Due to the slimmed-down design, Apple was apparently forced to make concessions with audio quality, meaning the speakers have "zero bass response."

The display is really the only unequivocated improvement in the new model, and it?s a big one. The sleeker, slimmer design is great, but it causes a couple of problems and forces a few unfortunate compromises. Yes, it?s faster, but only enough to keep up with the Joneses ? equal performance can definitely be had elsewhere.


Inventory is going fast, with the 27-inch model already seeing initial shipping dates pushed back to three to four weeks. Supply of standard configuration 21.5-inch models, which is currently available in brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, still shows ship-by dates of one to three days.

Buy Now and Save


Those interested in purchasing Apple's newest iMac can get a better deal by preordering with AppleCare through B&H Photo, which has partnered with AppleInsider to offer exclusive discounts. The Apple-authorized reseller is running a "Buy Together and Save" promotion that offers 50 percent off AppleCare 3-year extended warranty plans (normally $249 to $349) when purchased alongside a new Mac.

To take advantage of the bundle, visit the B&H website, add an iMac to the cart, select a free piece of bundled software and click the "COMPUTER ACCESSORIES" option from the menu on the lower left. Next, add the discounted AppleCare protection plan for your Mac by choosing "Select Item."

AppleCare for both the 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs is available for just $61 through B&H Photo for AppleInsider readers.

Special deals are also available through Apple-authorized reseller MacMall, which is offering all four standard iMac models along with configuration options. Customers will receive a free copy of Parallels, a $79.99 value, and MacMall also offers financing with an extra $20 off and no payments or interest for six months.
post #2 of 165

Best AIO on the market, and has been for several years now. 

post #3 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Best AIO on the market, and has been for several years now. 

Has there ever been a better AIO since Apple started selling Macs?

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post #4 of 165
Pity they designed it to be so hard to duplicate that it's super-hard for Apple themselves to make, effectively missing the holiday season apparently.
post #5 of 165
Decent-sounding speakers need depth. Looks like form wins out over function this time.
post #6 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Pity they designed it to be so hard to duplicate that it's super-hard for Apple themselves to make, effectively missing the holiday season apparently.

Give me an iMac anytime I will be very happy. I am very sure many others are in the same boat.

 

Btw I don't need to receive it as a holiday gift.

post #7 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Pity they designed it to be so hard to duplicate that it's super-hard for Apple themselves to make, effectively missing the holiday season apparently.

There is no evidence that it's the manufacturing of the device that is resulted in a November and December release.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 165
What's the point in making compromises in functionality - poor bass response, lack of ODD - on a desktop machine just to make it thinner around the edges? A desktop machine doesn't need to be thinner.

Where will it all end? Soon they'll remove every component and you'll be left with a pane of glass on a stand!
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post #9 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


There is no evidence that it's the manufacturing of the device that is resulted in a November and December release.

Believe whatever you want.  The news stories have been everywhere and where there's smoke, there's fire.  What do you think is the cause of the computers selling out to such a long wait already?  The crazy huge pent-up demand?  Again, believe what you want, but the preponderance of evidence all points one way.

post #10 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoJimu View Post

Decent-sounding speakers need depth. Looks like form wins out over function this time.

Then again, since you already knew this your expectation for the build-in speakers were low to begin with. As should be with anyone, so yes, separate, external speakers is the best config if you want to listen to music or play a video. For incoming mail et cetera sounds the build-in speakers will suffice. That's what they're designed for.
post #11 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Believe whatever you want.  The news stories have been everywhere and where there's smoke, there's fire.  What do you think is the cause of the computers selling out to such a long wait already?  The crazy huge pent-up demand?  Again, believe what you want, but the preponderance of evidence all points one way.

You're speculating without any evidence. All you know is that demand is greater than supply. This is nothing new for an Apple product. The unusual release date could be a variety of factors but for you to state that "it's super-hard for Apple themselves to make" does not make it so. You have ignored possibilities with 3rd-party suppliers failing to be able to supply a component needed and Apple wanting to wait instead of using a less than adequate solution or any number of factors that can create a bottleneck in getting a device to shelves.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #12 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

There is no evidence that it's the manufacturing of the device that is resulted in a November and December release.
Believe whatever you want.  The news stories have been everywhere and where there's smoke, there's fire.  What do you think is the cause of the computers selling out to such a long wait already?  The crazy huge pent-up demand?  Again, believe what you want, but the preponderance of evidence all points one way.

Like iTunes11 you mean¿ Geez, nothing points anywhere. It's all rumours, which is all we can go by. "preponderance of evidence" my tooch.
post #13 of 165
I've got to agree with some of the others. The new iMac looks great, and I may yet wind up with one, but if it needs an external optical drive, and it needs external speakers, it is looking less like an "All-In-One".
post #14 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by igxqrrl View Post

I've got to agree with some of the others. The new iMac looks great, and I may yet wind up with one, but if it needs an external optical drive, and it needs external speakers, it is looking less like an "All-In-One".



These guys just won't give up.  So we'll call this "ODD-Gate"?  
Maybe "speakergate"??  Better yet - "BassGate"??

The ODD is exactly where it belongs for most people.  Gone.  In my case, it's in a small box, in the cabinet where it stays for 51.99 weeks out of the year.  I don't want as few mechanical (i.e. break-prone) components in my iMac.

ODD is a has-been that's outlived its usefulness.  Everyone knows it, you most likely do too.  Buy a cheapo external while you still can.  Someday, those will be antiquated too.


Edited by sflocal - 11/30/12 at 4:20pm
post #15 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobius View Post

What's the point in making compromises in functionality - poor bass response, lack of ODD - on a desktop machine just to make it thinner around the edges? A desktop machine doesn't need to be thinner.
Where will it all end? Soon they'll remove every component and you'll be left with a pane of glass on a stand!

 

Firstly, if you're using the built-in speakers on an AIO and expecting awesome results then you're in for a big disappointment...  regardless of the manufacturer. Frankly, I've owned or used nearly every iMac iteration since it's inception and the sound and volume has always been lacking.  It's a desktop machine, which won't ever move; if decent sound is an important feature for you, simply buy some inexpensive Desktop Speakers with a dedicated sub-woofer and a couple of mid/tweeters and be done with it.

 

Secondly, while the lack of Optical Drive will be frustrating for a decidedly few users, I (and I'm not alone here) haven't put a CD or DVD in my Mac for over a year...  This all brings back memories to the first Macs that shipped without a Floppy drive -- "What ever will we do?!?"  they exclaimed...

 

Had they soldered the RAM to the board or something like that, I could understand the immediate frustration, but as far as I can tell this new enclosure is just as functional and even more powerful than it's predecessor -- hardly a step backward in my opinion.

post #16 of 165
One thing that is both a step backwards and inexplicable on the grounds of cost is abandoning a line-in port. With both headphone and line in ports it's easy to play and record music from an online source using a double ended 3.5 mm jack plug. It may be less cluttered and more streamlined to eliminate inconvenient holes but when it reduces functionality then priorities should be reconsidered!
post #17 of 165
$2,574.00 for my 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz with 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB and 3TB Fusion Drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 with Magic Trackpad. Plus another $150 for 32GB RAM (4x8GB) from Newegg for a total of $2,724 before taxes. That should last me a couple years.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #18 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

ODD is a has-been that's outlived its usefulness.  Everyone knows it, you most likely do too.  Buy a cheapo external while you still can.  Someday, those will be antiquated too.

Next up: HDD. That is soooo 1954 I cannot believe it's still around. Did serve its purpose, but it should be superseded. Fortunately it is, albeit slowly.
post #19 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

$2,574.00 for my 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz with 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB and 3TB Fusion Drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 with Magic Trackpad. Plus another $150 for 32GB RAM (4x8GB) from Newegg for a total of $2,724 before taxes. That should last me a couple years.

Nice config, but I truly believe some are better off, cheaper off, with a Mac Pro. Gosh, I'm starting to sound like a Mac Pro advocate, but if you're thinking it'll last you 'a couple of years' I might be right in the end.

Still, sol, sir, enjoy your Mac. It's quite possible you'll post even quicker once its arrived! It does look incredibly cool and I will definitely take a thorough look at it at my local Apple Store.
post #20 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobius View Post

What's the point in making compromises in functionality - poor bass response, lack of ODD - on a desktop machine just to make it thinner around the edges? A desktop machine doesn't need to be thinner.

I totally agree. What is this obsession with thinness? What's the point? The user sits in front of the computer! What does it matter if it's 1/4", 1/2", or 1" thick?

 

I think that compromising features just to get it thinner is not a good idea. Plus, I have never been a big fan of the thermal design of the last generation of iMacs. Those iMacs seem to have a higher failure rate than that of past machines. I know a number of people that have internal hard drive failures, plus motherboards seem to go bad more than usual. The graphics chip freaks out and stops working properly. These types of failures are often due to long-term thermal stress.

 

Did you ever push one of those iMac hard for a while and then feel how HOT the exhaust air is across the top? That just stresses everything out.

post #21 of 165
Forgot to ask: how much tax are we talking about? And will you get that back on selling the 2x4GB RAM sticks?
post #22 of 165
So much for asking everything in one post¡

Apple store tells me your config is $2749. Did you use a discount through AI?
post #23 of 165

Whether it's a TV or AIO, I've found that if you want decent sound, you need  external speakers. My M-Audio AV40 speakers more than make up for any deficiency in the built in speakers. :-)

post #24 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Nice config, but I truly believe some are better off, cheaper off, with a Mac Pro. Gosh, I'm starting to sound like a Mac Pro advocate, but if you're thinking it'll last you 'a couple of years' I might be right in the end.

I've been using a notebook as my primary machine for nearly 15 years so going to a desktop is a big step for me. A Mac Pro might be better but then I'd have to wait for that revision next year plus the new Apple Thunderbolt Displays, which I assume will be thin on the edges and will be announced with new AirPorts alongside the next Mac Pro (or whatever they call it).
Quote:
Still, sol, sir, enjoy your Mac. It's quite possible you'll post even quicker once its arrived! It does look incredibly cool and I will definitely take a thorough look at it at my local Apple Store.

Is that a good thing? I'm not so sure. lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Forgot to ask: how much tax are we talking about? And will you get that back on selling the 2x4GB RAM sticks?

I just checked and the taxes are estimated at $199.49 which turns out to be 7.8% sales tax. [edit: Bad calculation on my first post]

edit2: I won't be selling the other RAM sticks. Maybe I could get $25 or $30 for them on Craig's List but that seems like more trouble than it's worth to sell them. I bet I'll come across someone that could use an upgrade from 4GB to 8GB and just give them away.

PS: Forgot that I'd also pay $119 for the 3 year AppleCare on the iMac which I think will help the resale value when I sell it after 2 years.
Edited by SolipsismX - 11/30/12 at 4:27pm

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post #25 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoJimu View Post

Decent-sounding speakers need depth. Looks like form wins out over function this time.

No all-in-one sounds good enough - add external speakers.

post #26 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post



These guys just won't give up.  So we'll call this "ODD-Gate"?  
Maybe "speakergate"??  Better yet - "BassGate"??

The ODD is exactly where it belongs for most people.  Gone.  In my case, it's in a small box, in the cabinet where it stays for 51.99 weeks out of the year.  I don't want as few mechanical (i.e. break-prone) components in my iMac.

ODD is a has-been that's outlived its usefulness.  Everyone knows it, you most likely do too.  Buy a cheapo external while you still can.  Someday, those will be antiquated too.

Glad you're so happy. You're not the only person in the world, you know. DVDs still by far outsell downloaded movies. But since you run the world, I guess that's all out the window.

post #27 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

Glad you're so happy. You're not the only person in the world, you know. DVDs still by far outsell downloaded movies. But since you run the world, I guess that's all out the window.

What relevance does that have to anything since DVD is more commonly played via an appliance or console in an HEC, not on a notebook or desktop PC. If you really want to play 720x480 MPEG-2 files on a 2560x1440 display then you certainly can but don't imply that is why people are buying Macs or how they prefer to watch their DVDs.

As for actual views streaming video far exceeds DVD video views. There is a reason Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu and iTunes Store are all thriving while Hollywood Video and Blockbuster are out of business.


edit: Correction: Blockbuster Video is still in business. It was bought out by Dish Network in 2011. Good for them!
Edited by SolipsismX - 11/30/12 at 4:55pm

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post #28 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

Glad you're so happy. You're not the only person in the world, you know. DVDs still by far outsell downloaded movies. But since you run the world, I guess that's all out the window.

No, he doesn't run the world, but neither do you. Apple made a decision to drop the ODD. I suspect that they are better at knowing what the market needs than you are.

An external drive is available if you need it. If you absolutely need an internal drive, buy last year's model or buy something else. If you're right and most people need ODD, then Apple will lose most of their iMac business and will have to backtrack. I'm not holding my breath, though.
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post #29 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcompuser View Post

Whether it's a TV or AIO, I've found that if you want decent sound, you need  external speakers. My M-Audio AV40 speakers more than make up for any deficiency in the built in speakers. :-)

Agreed. I haven't used the internal speakers on any of my desktop computers for at least 15 years. On my laptops, I use the internal speakers, but never to listen seriously to music. I don't think it's an unreasonable tradeoff. It's not hard to find inexpensive external speakers that are far better than even the best internal ones.
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post #30 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Agreed. I haven't used the internal speakers on any of my desktop computers for at least 15 years. On my laptops, I use the internal speakers, but never to listen seriously to music. I don't think it's an unreasonable tradeoff. It's not hard to find inexpensive external speakers that are far better than even the best internal ones.
This is true but people like creating "gates" with Apple so now we get speaker gate, Based apparently on one review. I'd be curious to know how many people use the built in speakers with their flat screen TV vs a receiver with speakers and subwoofer. My guess is more people do the latter.
post #31 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by David291 View Post

I totally agree. What is this obsession with thinness? What's the point? The user sits in front of the computer! What does it matter if it's 1/4", 1/2", or 1" thick?

 

I think that compromising features just to get it thinner is not a good idea. Plus, I have never been a big fan of the thermal design of the last generation of iMacs. Those iMacs seem to have a higher failure rate than that of past machines. I know a number of people that have internal hard drive failures, plus motherboards seem to go bad more than usual. The graphics chip freaks out and stops working properly. These types of failures are often due to long-term thermal stress.

 

Did you ever push one of those iMac hard for a while and then feel how HOT the exhaust air is across the top? That just stresses everything out.


Besides the visual attraction to style, there are other more "practical" reasons.

The thinness also allows for:

 

A lighter product.  Why should you care?  Lighter means less fuel resources, and less costs to ship product from factory to your door.

 

A smaller package.  Meaning more can be squeezed into a given space.  One can ship more product in the same space.  Again, less shipping, less fuel, less costs.

 

Less materials.  Thinner means less metal.  Less metal means less resources used.

Or is it all supposed to be only about you??


I push my iMac hard at times to get the heat up.  Yes it gets hot.  Then, afterwards it cools down.  What's your point?  Should Apple design their products in the assumption that it will be running at 100% full load the entire time?  That's not realistic.  They found a good balance I think.

Finally, please provide more insight on these supposed motherboard, hard drive, GPU failures that happen in iMacs, especially your implication that it is caused by this so-called heat issues that "Stresses everything out".  This is a first to me.

I've purchased way too many iMacs to count for numerous clients and none of them have ever exhibited the kind of issues that you're describing.  Obviously, system issues arise, but in my case all the iMacs I purchased have never failed at all.  They are built like tanks.

post #32 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Forgot that I'd also pay $119 for the 3 year AppleCare on the iMac which I think will help the resale value when I sell it after 2 years.

Ah ok, you're thinking on selling it after 2 years. That does change my view a bit as you're quite likely to get a reasonably good price. Thanks for all the info, appreciate it.
post #33 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Agreed. I haven't used the internal speakers on any of my desktop computers for at least 15 years. On my laptops, I use the internal speakers, but never to listen seriously to music. I don't think it's an unreasonable tradeoff. It's not hard to find inexpensive external speakers that are far better than even the best internal ones.

 

I'm fine with the speakers on the iMac. If I was into desktop gaming, I'd probably spring for some Bose speakers. It's funny that even in 2012, reviewers of big screen HDTVs pan them for the small speakers. Does anyone buy a huge 65" LCD and then settle for the built ins? Even a cheap Bose 3-speaker surround system improves the experience tremendously!

post #34 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

I'm fine with the speakers on the iMac. If I was into desktop gaming, I'd probably spring for some Bose speakers. It's funny that even in 2012, reviewers of big screen HDTVs pan them for the small speakers. Does anyone buy a huge 65" LCD and then settle for the built ins? Even a cheap Bose 3-speaker surround system improves the experience tremendously!

It seems silly to me too.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #35 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

 

I'm fine with the speakers on the iMac. If I was into desktop gaming, I'd probably spring for some Bose speakers. It's funny that even in 2012, reviewers of big screen HDTVs pan them for the small speakers. Does anyone buy a huge 65" LCD and then settle for the built ins? Even a cheap Bose 3-speaker surround system improves the experience tremendously!

 

Exactly! You're buying a computer not a sound system! Since when were built-in speakers supposed to be anything more than adequate for people that don't need or want decent sounding audio? You can't go past the B&W MM-1s in my opinion! They look and sound amazing for their size and price.
post #36 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by s.metcalf View Post

 

Exactly! You're buying a computer not a sound system! Since when were built-in speakers supposed to be anything more than adequate for people that don't need or want decent sounding audio?You can't go past the B&W MM-1s in my opinion! They look and sound amazing for their size and price.

 

I sprung for the B&W Zeppelin speaker (pre AirPlay, unfortunately). There was a manufacturing recall that B&W was only too happy to fix (they even paid shipping both ways, but wow....try to pack heavy, delicate, football-shaped speakers). I have never heard such beautiful sound from a speaker. Or maybe my brain knows I paid $700+ and it's protecting me from constant buyer's remorse......

post #37 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobius View Post

Where will it all end? Soon they'll remove every component and you'll be left with a pane of glass on a stand!
Classic! :-)
post #38 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobius View Post

What's the point in making compromises in functionality - poor bass response, lack of ODD - on a desktop machine just to make it thinner around the edges? A desktop machine doesn't need to be thinner.
Where will it all end? Soon they'll remove every component and you'll be left with a pane of glass on a stand!


Actually that would open up newer use cases. This change was largely aesthetic. Reducing it to a pane of glass would grant further potential in terms of embedded uses. I've always felt design changes should be driven by functionality. Being able to place something anywhere in your house and move it around is functionally different from something which must remain in place. Right now you can't push it further back. It can't exist anywhere it couldn't previously. That aspect of the design is just a gimmick because of this. Apple has become sort of the poster child for anorexia nervosa.

post #39 of 165

Looks like the glass is glued to the chassis. Have to use a heat gun and very carefully pry it off with heavy suction cups. Bad news for anyone planning to do their own upgrades.

post #40 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by BDBLACK View Post

Looks like the glass is glued to the chassis. Have to use a heat gun and very carefully pry it off with heavy suction cups. Bad news for anyone planning to do their own upgrades.



I'm told that iFixit picked up their 21.5" iMac today so we should get a confirmation on that soon enough.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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