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

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 168


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

  • Reply 2 of 168
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    quadra 610 wrote: »
    Best AIO on the market, and has been for several years now. 

    Has there ever been a better AIO since Apple started selling Macs?
  • Reply 3 of 168
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 168
    Decent-sounding speakers need depth. Looks like form wins out over function this time.
  • Reply 5 of 168
    adamcadamc Posts: 562member

    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.

  • Reply 6 of 168
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    cameronj wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 168
    mobiusmobius Posts: 376member
    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!
  • Reply 8 of 168
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member

    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.

  • Reply 9 of 168
    tokyojimu wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 168
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    cameronj wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 168
    cameronj wrote: »
    solipsismx wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 168
    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".
  • Reply 13 of 168
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,340member

    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.

  • Reply 14 of 168
    bcodebcode Posts: 138member

    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.

  • Reply 15 of 168

    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!


     


    I completely agree!!! No ODD, no firewire, no USB 2.0 (only USB 3.0), no HDMI, no SVGA, no RS232, no 3.5" floppy, no 5.25" floppy, no reel-to-reel backup. Why can't Apple simply live in the past so we can have all these things in our computers forever!!!!?

  • Reply 16 of 168
    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!
  • Reply 17 of 168
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    $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.
  • Reply 18 of 168
    sflocal wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 168
    solipsismx wrote: »
    $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.
  • Reply 20 of 168

    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.

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