The 20" iMac is absolutely absurd in every aspect. From concept, performance, and price, it fails all around.
First of all, let's get something straight. Apple's standalone Cinema displays are currently overpriced. I took a look around and all of the 20" LCD's I found were $1,100 or less and doubled as TVs, with component video, RCA, an every other video connector known to man on the things. Apple sells their 20" display for $1,300 without all of these other capabilities. Their 20" should be $900, at best.
Now, let's talk about the 20" iMac's concept
Who's decision was it to physically bound a $900 monitor to $700 worth of computer components? That's like buying a Plasma TV that has a built-in VCR and no video in ports. I understand that this is true for a laptop as well, but that's the trade you make for portability. I honestly think Apple either created this 20" iMac to try and get rid of an abundance of 20" LCDs, or they're trying to make their laptops look really attractive by making their consumer desktops highly unattractive.
Ok, on to the iMac's performance
I've read mentions of how just a few years ago, people would have killed for a 1.25Ghz G4. Some seem to forget we were in a processor slump for 3 years thanks to Motorola. Thanks to IBM and the G5, we're out of that now, but only in the Powermac line. The rest of Apple's systems need G5's as soon as possible. Move those Powermacs up to Dual 2.5Ghz G5's and trickle the single processor G5's down into the iMacs already. At the very least, they could throw that 1.42Ghz G4 in the iMac, since it's no longer reserved for the Powermac line. Just because the PowerBooks aren't capable of accepting a G4 faster than 1.33Ghz doesn't mean they should cripple their desktop systems. You don't see this happing in the PC world. Desktop systems get the fastest available, and the laptops get whatever they can handle.
I read discussion of how people can do great work with slow-ass computers. That is very true, but how does that justify a company selling color crayons for $1,000 a piece? It's true that we've all hopped on the "G5 or nothing at all!" mentality bandwagon, but there are two reasons for that. The first being the previously mentioned processor slump Apple fell into for 3 years. Now that Apple has fast processors available to them, they need to crank those bitches up and trickle them down into everything they've got. There's absolutely no excuse to keep using 167Mhz system busses and putting 1.25Ghz processors in $2,200 computers. Second, since the advent of Mac OS X software has become so slow and sluggish that you literally do
need a G5 to use any of today's creativity applications. When Apple stopped speeding up their computers for 3 years, software developers did not stop bloating their software. I suspected for a long time that this was due to software developers incapability of writing clean, quick code for OS X, but Adobe and Macromedia are on their second incarnation of OS X applications now, and they actually managed to make all of their programs run slower
in their second incarnation! Whether this is Apple's fault or the developers, it makes a 1.25Ghz G4 sluggish and unusable for all of the things a 20" display would actually be necessary for. Not to mention the 1GB RAM limit of the iMac - between that and the processor, you've got a very short life in that computer. It's too bad you can't rip that fantastic display off and use it with another computer. No, that would actually be logical
Lastly, the iMac'sprice
Okay, I have to admit last night when I heard the 20" iMac rumors I was excited, but that's because I anticipated the 20" to come in at the $1,800 price tag and push the other iMacs down a good $300 each. Instead, I wake up to find this 20" iMac price $400 more than I anticipated! $400!! Now, I am fully aware that LCDs are expensive, but I thought the iMac's null expandability and measly system performance was supposed to be the sacrifices made for keeping the price down. There is no logical reason Apple can't sell (and make a profit) on their current iMac line by selling them at $999, $1,399, and $1,799. And at those prices, they would actually sell
iMacs, instead of using them as a deterrent to get more iBook and PowerBook sales.
Now, kill the iMac already and bring on a headless alternative, using single G5 processors and ranging from $999 to $1,599, depending on the system's performance. People will not
buy disposable computers with $900 displays anchored to them. The original iMac worked because, although it was disposable, the Monitor wasn't any better than the rest of the computer's components. With the latest iMacs, All-In-One desktops systems just don't make sense anymore.
On the plus side, Apple's PowerMac G5 line-up is damn near perfect at this time. At least they got something right