Pros Snappy performance
Cons Glare from screen, OS upgrade unclear, peculiar wireless keyboard
Summary I upgraded from a 1.8 GHz G5 iMac to the 2.4 GHz 20" aluminum iMac. The new machine has a much snappier feel to it overall, and individual apps such as iPhoto and Civilization IV perform much better (in the case of Civ IV, it performs as it should have all along). The new keyboard is surprisingly good for a fast typist such as myself, and iPhoto '08 is sensational! I don't think I care for the glossy screen, though, as it reflects too much glare. I also wanted a wireless keyboard, but the new Apple model is missing a lot of useful keys. These are minor complaints--I'm quite delighted with the purchase.
Pros Elegant design, price, feature set, mac
Cons not fully upgradeable
Summary CNet cons - don't know how to upgrade to Leopard? With a DVD, of course, the same way everything has been upgraded for all of history. Why is this a con? Why is this even mentioned? You might as well say - Cons: Don't know how to plug power cord into wall. C-Net needs to hire new editors with legitimate cons. Phone support is weak? Maybe you had a bad rep. In general, Apple has some of the best phone support available.
Unless you need multiple hard drives or extremely powerful graphics processing, this computer is the most compelling desktop on the market.
Pros Design, size, user interface, speed, and cool factor
Cons Fashion-forward keyboard, at-home customization lacking
Summary The first computer I ever owned was an Apple IIe. I still believed in Santa and learned the Turtle programming language. The next 24 years were a blur of IBM Aptiva, PC clones, Dell Inspirion, and there might have been an HP in there. I struggled to understand how to use poorly integrated PC software, freezes, virus program after virus program, and eventually fatal crashes.
On an impluse, I walked into the Apple Store in Bridgewater, NJ asked for the new 20" iMac and bought it. No questions. From the two hours it took to open the box, have ALL of my old PC files uploaded to the new iMac, iPhoto organizing all of my 2,000+ photos, iTunes loaded with songs from my iPod (legally, of course), e-mail accounts configured, and surfing the net on my wireless network I was completely hooked. That's not even the good part.
The user interface (UI) for the Apple software is super-slick and so well integrated it hardly seems like different pieces of software. I wouldn't ever considered how to create a website with my photos and videos with a blog and soundtracks to each page, but with iWeb I can. I have a degree in finance and couldn't tell the difference between a subnet and a Java and here I am inviting my friends and family to vew my wesite.
More things that are awesome about this iMac...no drivers. Everything I plugged into the USB ports (three on the head and two on the keyboard) just worked. From cameras, cell phones, external hard drive, video cameras, etc. They all just worked.
OS X has also simplified the menu screens. There are no long hierarcies to wade through to find what you want. It is more or less an experience you need to have with the machine, not have some idiot like me tell you about it.
STOP READING THIS REVIEW AND BUY THIS COMPUTER!!
Pros Rich colors, ultra-clear screen, very quiet, small footprint
Cons Placement of FireWire/USB ports; terrible mouse; DVD slot;; OS X
Summary I've built my own PCs for many years now, so the price of any Mac was always about three times more than I ever cared to pay for a machine of the given specs. I'm a tinkerer, a tuner, a customization junkie, and I love to be able to design a system to exacting custom specs -- namely, mine. I also love to be able to upgrade, enhance, and overhaul at will, and again, Macs generally don't satisfy in that regard.
But still, I'm also a believer in using the right tool for the job, and there were certain things (some Mac-only apps) which made sense for me to use, so I purchased my first Mac - a 20" iMac. Of all possible Macs, it was the correct fit for the relatively light duty I need for it to perform.
I immediately appreciated the clarity and color response of the display. Rich colors are very much like candy to me, and I really liked what I saw.
I also liked that it didn't take up much space, because I don't have a whole lot of room for it. I was quite impressed with how quiet it is, too, and it actually took my wife a little while even to realize it was sitting there. Despite its size, it really does keep a low profile.
A few things about the design are very irritating, however. The FireWire and USB ports being on the back of the case is a very poor design decision; whenever I build my own, I make sure I have plenty right up from and easily accessible. USB plugs have to be aligned correctly in order to insert, and it's not the easiest thing to do when you're trying to reach around the back of the screen.
I also don't particularly care for the DVD drive slot. I don't like complicated transport systems; it's too much which can go wrong, and in an all-in-one system, any repair means you're without your machine for the duration. I also do not like the ejection; it's difficult to remove a disc without touching the business side of it, and I like to keep my discs print-free.
Overall, it runs fine, robustly and quietly. I do realize it's a fluke, but it's also the truth -- when I got through the registration and booted up for the very first time, I opened the very first app -- Safari -- and the system locked up. I have not had a problem since, and have no reason to anticipate one, but it seemed worth mentioning.
Now, having come from a Windows or Linux environment, I was actually looking forward to fully immersing myself in OS X. I have to say, after working with it for a while, I do not find it intuitive or as user-friendly as it could be. Right-clicking for item menus is second nature to me, and it's frustrating to have to go the extra step of holding down CTRL while I click. Also, I find the number of choices pretty limited when you do finally get to that menu. For example, I wanted to re-format an external hard drive and found that you can't just do it with a right-click; you need to dig through a couple of folders to get to the disk utility app, and then go through a number of steps.
Also, I've been tripped up multiple times by the need to "eject" an external drive or (to a lesser extent) a USB thumb drive before disconnecting; it keeps the devices from being truly plug and play and it's just not necessary in Windows -- and the need for OS X to write hidden files ("Trashes," e.g.) to the devices is a little creepy.
Further, the lack of customization options for the OS interface as a whole is disappointing. Being used to the ability to customize just about every pixel on the screen, I find the few choices in OS X rather limiting.
I do enjoy the direct access to Apple trailers and everything else accessible from the remote control; I think it's a nice touch. It's not something useful for work, but it's a nice diversion on a break.
I can see where the iMac might have considerable appeal to the light-use home user who just wants to surf the web, organize photos or videos, listen to music, chat online, etc.. And it'll be fine for running the few apps I need it for. But I'm just too used to having a very high level of control over both the hardware and the OS I use, and I don't have that with the iMac. I *really* want things done *my* way, and OS X doesn't seem ideal for that.
So, while it's a solid performer, has a fantastic display, and is going to do what I need it to do, it won't lure me away from my main machine for the bulk of my work.
"Sleek Sleek Sleek"on by auscop
Pros Very small form factor, very sexy, Unix based OS, not Microsoft.
Cons No current cheap/free upgrade plan to Leopard
Summary I have only just joined CNet reviews and I am about ready to quit just because of the sheer stupidity of some of the posters, where's my morning coffee... Folk need to remember what are we reviewing here, we are not reviewing the latest gaming machine or the latest xtreme PC for upgrade geeks, (me in my former life )The iMac is designed for the average user and family, to send e-mail, surf the web, etc. etc. but the main reason to go iMac is for it's Multimedia abilities, not to play the latest online game. Now here's your chance to slam me, I don't own the iMAC yet, the last time I owned an Apple was the Apple 2GS back in the late 80's so why should I be able to rate the iMAC? Well I am done playing graphically intense games, I am done with having to worry about viruses on my PC every day, I am tired of the Blue Screen of Death, I am tired of upgrading my PC that has so many parts something is sure to fail once every 6 months or so, I am tired of trying to use Pinnacle software to make home DVD's and have it suck up 80% of my 2GB of RAM, I am tired of the noise the 5 fans in the PC make, and lastly I need to upgrade as I recently blew all the USB ports in the computer and I sure hell ain't going to go with VISTA.
So if you are not going to use the iMAC for what it is intended, then don't rate it for what it is not. If you want to upgrade look in to the MAC Pro. As soon as Apple offer a good deal on upgrading to Leopard, I will be buying the 2.8Ghz beast. For now it is nothing but pure engineering brilliance and I look forward to be having a true multimedia experience.