"A decent second computer, but will never be my workhorse."3.5 starson by dnj1706
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.