What can't the iMac do?

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
The iMac has been the subject of so many topics and so much bashing. I suppose I've done my fair share of that. There is a lot of emotion surrounding the iMac. I am not interested in how much you love the machine or how it is your best friend or how great it looks or how great the monitor is. I want to know about the iMac's real limitations and strengths. I am willing to accept the premise that the iMac is enough computer to do what most people do with computers. Word processing, surfing, email, and light gaming are the big four. I also know that jukebox, photo album, and home movies are coming along as reasons to own a computer as well. I will accept as a given that the iMac can handle these tasks with admirable aplomb. However, any sub zero PC can also manage these tasks. I am trying to get a sense of the boundaries of its usefulness. Is it good for more than the basics? How is it for high-end photo, video, and music editing? What are some of the tasks that you dedicated iMac owners do that makes you wish you had just a little more power? What are some of the tasks you do that leave you surprised at just how well the iMac performs? Again, I am only interested in posts related to the iMac's performance, not its past or its future or its colors, or lack thereof. Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

(Clicking on the Submit New Thread button, I mutter to myself that this thread will veer off topic by the third post and I will be insulted by the fifth. Before the post count hits 10 this thread will have devolved into an all out flamefest. Oh well. Click!)


  • Reply 1 of 9
    Basically, it can do anything, and everything a higher end Powermac G5 can do. They only backdraw is that it'll just do it slower. Under most instances the iMac will perform what you need to get done fast. I wouldn't use the iMac for Pro-end video editing. You can't get capture cards, and the power needed for renderings of 500GB+ just isn't there. But it'd be perfect for audio editing. I use a old 9600 200MHz Dual for my Video and Audio editing. It might not be the fastest, but it gets things done, when i need them done. It meets all my requirements.

    So basically all the iMac can't do is high processor intensive stuff, having the ablility to be expanded (widely) and probably high frame rate games. I think the iMac is just perfect for a mid class, for people who just need a mac for everyday to everyday+ activities.
  • Reply 2 of 9
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    It costs more to maintain because if any component breaks (and that's more likely, given that it's a cheaper machine made with cheaper components than the PowerMacs) you have to either take apart the whole machine and rebuild it around a replacement component, or you have to send it into the shop to get it fixed. Want a bigger or faster hard drive? You have to spend $40 extra to buy a Firewire case for it. Want a better optical drive than the BS 32x Combo they include? $40 Firewire case. Need more screen area? Put it on eBay and buy a new one. Dislike anything about the machine? Too bad.

    I like my PowerMac G4 even though it's technically slower than an iMac or eMac. First of all, despite being a paltry dual 450 MHz machine, it's still nearly as fast as my 1 GHz eMac was. It also has dual internal hard drives, a 48x Combo drive that I installed myself in the span of five minutes, three RAM modules with room for a fourth (limit of two on the eMac), and if I dislike anything about it I can just kind of mess around with the computer until it is how I like it. I don't like the handles with the ribs on them so I bought a set of clear, ribless handles from a guy who turns PowerMacs into rackmount servers. So now my G4 looks just a little cooler and a bit different from everyone else's.

    Yes, MOST things can be done on an iMac as well. If you want 5.1 surround, you can get a USB audio device. If you need more USB or Firewire ports, just pick up a hub. If you need a new optical drive or hard drive, get an external one. But the PowerMac does it smarter - everything internal. Audio card, USB/Firewire card, internal hard drives and optical drive. If I ever want Serial ATA, I can easily have it (I'll probably end up getting an S-ATA card before I get rid of this computer). Same with Firewire 800 and numerous other technologies that can never be had on an iMac.

    I'm not saying the PowerMac is the perfect choice for everyone, but it seems like a good deal to me at least. I enjoy it, as a tinkerer, but for many the iMac is the better choice.
  • Reply 3 of 9

    Originally posted by Mac Voyer

    (Clicking on the Submit New Thread button, I mutter to myself that this thread will veer off topic by the third post and I will be insulted by the fifth. Before the post count hits 10 this thread will have devolved into an all out flamefest. Oh well. Click!)

    The iMac can't do the "Blue screen of death"

    (sorry, I had to do that...I am so bored) in all fairness though, I have heard of the "spinning cursor of death"

    Carry on towards flamefest

  • Reply 4 of 9
    Oh, I suppose there are lots of things my iMac cannot do, but my needs have been met so far by this 800 MHz, 512Mb 15? FP iMac. I am on the Internet, e-mail, excel and word daily.

    I bring home excel and word files work on them and carry them back to the office with no problems.

    There are just no easier programs to use than iPhoto, iTunes, and iDVD.

    If I were making a living using a Mac, no doubt it would be the latest G5, but for the money the iMac is the way to go for the vast majority of users.

    The work machine is a dell. How do I get my files from work to home and back with no floppy? My trusty Piccolo 64Mb flash drive??very handy.
  • Reply 5 of 9
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    The iMac can do pretty much anything that the majority of G4s out in the field can do. So you can run all the taxing apps on a 1.25GHz iMac - just don't expect it to be as snappy as a dual G5.

    The question's not what the machine can do today, but rather what is it going to be able to do in three years time (or perhaps even longer). Historically, a machine's useful lifespan is determined by its ability to evolve as new technologies and functionality are introduced. AIO as a concept, has a problem doing this, simply because the manufacturers tend to artificially limit the AIOs upgradeability. There's no reason why they should do this, other than to try and tie you down and keep the machines useful lifespan as short as possible (forcing you to shell out again).

    So the pertinent question is will you be able to run future versions of software at full whack - and if not, will you be able to extend the iMac usefull lifespan by upgrading it? All the indications are that the answers to these questions are no and no.

    You can't upgrade the graphics card in an iMac, and thanks to QuartzExtreme this is no longer just an issue that affects gamers. There is no good reason that the graphics card on the iMac isn't on a daughtercard that can be replaced.

    Likewise, if a new industry standard comes along you won't be able to incorporate it, or it's benefits into the iMac. For instance, wireless connectivity seems to be something that everyone is keen to experiment with at the moment. New technologies will allow us to do exciting new things - I don't know what these new technologies will be, but I know that a G4 tower or G5 tower stands a better chance of being able to embrace them.

    Also, bear in mind that Dads and clients invariably expect their computers to remain at the cutting edge for longer than three years. This is absolutely unrealistic. No computer can do that. What are you going to say when they turn around an blame you, because their two year old iMac can't be upgraded to GREAT NEW PRODUCT PRO - and you said it was a great computer to buy, two years ago. Explain to them now, that the iMac's functionality cannot be upgraded - at all - and see how keen they are to buy one. The iMac is a dead end machine - that's fine if you know what you are getting yourself into, and plan to get rid of it within two years.

    More Apple specific unknowns:

    Apple's market is smaller than a PC manufacturers market. Because of this, they like to keep their market as captive as possible, and to keep kick starting the market ever so often. This ensures a renewable revenue stream. Apple has kickstarted the market a number of times in the past - QuartzExtreme was a classic example, it changed the hardware landscape over night and suddenly even the shiny new iBook G3s sitting on the shelves were "obsolete". Suddenly everybody wanted a machine that was QuartzExtreme compatible, and nothing else would do.

    Thanks to Apple's cloak and dagger approach to it's roadmap, nobody can predict what these kickstarts will be in the future.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    It seems the consensus is that the iMac is a great computer for mission specific tasks. Businesses and schools that run specialized software come to mind. They run the same programs for years and do not change until they must. Also, home users whose needs play into the current strengths of the iMac. People like my wife who don't do a lot with their computer but who need a reliable and easy way to email and surf and play Snood. Such people do not even know what is possible with current technology until someone like me tells them. They have no idea that they are limited and so they are not. But for people who like to live on the cutting edge of technology and have all possible connectivity and remain current with the latest advancements, the iMac is a bad idea. Even if it is powerful enough, it is not compatible enough with the future to be a wise investment.

    In spite of all that. I still remain a fan of notebooks. They have all those limitations and they are ergonomic nightmares. But they do have one killer app; mobility. The i (e)Mac is as tied to your desk as the largest PM. It has all the disadvantages of a notebook without the killer app. Still, I can see where the iMac is a great computer for a person who has more than the average disposable income and does not mind trying to sell it every year to benefit from current advances in technology. Does that pretty much sum it up or am I all wet?
  • Reply 7 of 9
    The iMac 2 (FP) cannot compete in the price/ performance arena nearly as well as either the original iMac when it was released (or even through most of the products life-span in Apples line-up) or the new G5 PM's.
  • Reply 8 of 9
    It's not so much what it can't do, as what it doesn't have.

    2 RAM slots, instead of 4 on the G4 towers, and 8 on the G5s. Can't add 2nd internal hard drive. More limited options for attaching 2nd monitor. no FW 800. No PCI expansion slots.

    I'm not bashing here, as I own both a Cube and a FP iMac 800 (I love them both, and they're operfect for home use), but you have to go in knowing that you won't ever need more than 1 gb RAM, 1 internal drive, etc. They're fine for consumers in that regard, since 95% of the computer-buying public is never going to need a PCI slot or whatever.

    We have Towers at work, for the same list of reasons-- I have extra PCI cards, a ton of RAM and internal drives in both of them, and for professional use, I would have found the iMac lacking.

    However, an iMac, out of the box, should do everything that a tower will do, out of the box, albiet more slowly.

  • Reply 9 of 9
    My iMac can't change my kid's diapers .... but it's an old G3. Maybe the new FlatPanel iMacs can do that ???
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