I was somewhat apprehensive when offered an iMac to play around with for two or three weeks. I didn't immediately jump at it, as I had never really used a Mac before. But, then I said to myself: "What the heck. You can never break a Macintosh, no matter what you click." So I said yes to our friend Vishnu Mahmud, who offered me this rare opportunity.
And there it was: A brand new 20-inch iMac that looked so gorgeous it was completely out of place in my super-cluttered study!
Everything came in a single box. It took me literally less than five minutes to lift the computer out, place it on my desk and plug in the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet and power cords.
Without opening the booklet, I was able to find the power switch in two seconds, and in less than one minute the iMac was up and running. Well, it wouldn't be an Apple product if it was more complicated than this; to set it up right out of the box.
MAC ATTACK: iMac (20-inch version). JP/Zatni Arbi
And everybody knows how great Apple is in the area of aesthetic design. The 20-inch iMac is a clear example. The aluminum exterior is so seamless and glossy that sometimes I forget it is a computer. My fingers just want to caress the unit over and over.
The CPU, the hard disk, the mainboard and the DVD drive are all packed in the back of the bright and pleasing LCD screen. Despite the machine's high-end specs, the enclosure is not much thicker than a regular LCD panel. The well-balanced stand is stable enough to prevent the iMac from toppling over.
So, what has Apple thrown into the back of the luscious LCD screen?
First, this Mac runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 2.4 GHz clock speed. Then there's one gigabyte of 667MHz memory -- the maximum memory capacity is 4 GB. The hard disk can store up to 350 GB of digital stuff. It is a Serial ATA hard disk spinning at the speed of 7200 revolution per minute (RPM).
Although I didn't get the chance to run Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premier, I believe there's more than enough horsepower to manipulate photos without the frustrating sluggishness suffered in the past.
The keyboard is very thin and very stylish. Despite the short key travel, the key buttons are responsive enough. They didn't feel mushy at all. The keyboard has an aluminum base as well.
Here's one caveat, however: If your wall outlet is not correctly grounded, be prepared to feel an occasional sting as your skin touches the keyboard edge. I know, because the electrical wiring in my house is not properly earthed.
On the right side there's a slot for CD or DVD. Honestly, I prefer a tray model, having had two slot-type DVD players refuse to eject my CDs on their own. But, a tray would not look as pretty as the slot. Hopefully, if you always use original and high-quality CDs or DVDs, it won't give you any problem. The DVD drive is a SuperDrive that can read and write to double-layer DVD.
What about the connection? In addition to the Ethernet port, there are three fast USB ports. The keyboard is also a USB hub with two more ports, but one is usually used for the Mighty Mouse.
Wireless LAN is provided though AirPort Extreme 802.11g. I didn't try out this one, though, but I know it should function smoothly. A petite remote control is also in the box, enabling remote control of video playback and volume adjustment.
There are two Firewire ports, too: a Firewire 800 and Firewire 400 for connection to audio/video equipment. On top of the screen, unnoticed unless you carefully look for it, is the iSight camera. The microphone is also cleverly camouflaged. There is a mini-DVI port at the back, in case you want to connect the iMac to another display screen for a full-fledged video conferencing session.
My preview unit has a widescreen 20-inch LCD that is protected with a glass panel. It has a resolution of 1680 x 1050. It is already too big for me. For a week, I had to struggle to find the mouse pointer in such a large screen. Then Vishnu e-mailed me the steps I should take to enlarge the pointer. Once I changed it, I could use the iMac much easier.
By the way, if a 20-inch screen is already too big for me, can you imagine how easy it is for me to get lost in a 24-inch screen? Yes, the new iMacs come with 20- or 24-inch widescreen display.
The software requires more time to learn and discuss, of course. This machine has Mac OS X Leopard already installed. The Leopard, which is now available in Indonesia for Rp 1.5 million, has 300 new features compared to its predecessor. Among others, there is the new Time Machine that helps us back up our files so our children no longer have the excuse to say "I couldn't find my assignment. I must have deleted it by mistake."
While on the subject of parenting, Leopard also has Parental Control, which prevents children from visiting unsuitable websites. Parents can also monitor and limit their children's online activities. Incidentally, if your family members are all Mac users, you can buy a five-user pack for Rp 2.3 million.
What about running Windows on this Intel Inside machine? No problem; Leopard has the full version of Boot Camp that will allow us to do it.
The stereo speakers, which are located on the bottom of the computer, produce great sound. The crystal voice of Sarah Brightman singing "Con Te Partiro" emanating from the speakers was so enjoyable that I began to drift into a dream world.
My wife and I spent a few hours watching DVD movies on this iMac, and we both agreed it was a great experience. Too bad, we don't have enough justification -- and especially the cash -- to buy our own iMac.
So, it was a sad day when I had to put this very nice computer back into its shipping box. In case you're wondering, the price of the new iMac is less than its predecessor. The model I played around with can be purchased for around Rp 18 million. The 24-inch model will set you back Rp 22 million or so, but, hey, the screen is really a gigantic one!