GADGET WATCH: 2012 Apple iMac

The iMac hadn’t received a decent update in a while, prior to Apple’s most recent announcement. But the new version is certainly a significant upgrade, featuring a thinner design. There has been some criticism about the fact the new iMac doesn’t have a Retina screen, but will be that be enough to keep prospective buyers away?

Hardware and features

There are a few different versions of the 2012 iMac, but they all contain most of the same components.

The base model features a 2.7Ghz quad-core Intel processor, although that increases to 3.2Ghz for the 27-inch model. Each version contains 8GB of RAM, along with a 1GB hard drive. Anything above the most basic model features a fusion drive, which combines solid-state and mechanical components.

All models feature a FaceTime camera, along with a headphone jack, gigabit ethernet, Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports. There’s also an SDXC card slot.

All models also come with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, a full wireless keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad.

What’s the consensus?

One of the biggest changes in the new iMac model is the design. It’s much thinner than the previous versions, and as TechCrunch points out, the tapered shell makes the display feel “like it’s just floating in air”. This is partly due to the fact the display is much closer to the glass panel of the screen.

Of course, this thinner design means that you’re going to miss out on optical drives, although if you’ve owned a MacBook Air or any sort of ultrabook you’d be used to that by now.

Over at The Verge, there was more praise for the 5mm edge on the iMac, although it also pointed out that a lack of an optical drive makes some media inaccessible.

It particularly enjoyed the wide viewing angles for the screen – content could be viewed at nearly 180 degrees.

“The wide viewing angles give you another way to defeat glare, by tilting the screen forward or backward — unfortunately that’s about all the iMac’s stand lets you do, but it should always be possible to find a good angle for the display”.

Engadget took a different approach, saying that while the new design is nice, it’s certainly not the main reason you’d buy a new iMac.

The publication had a lot of good things to say about the performance, noting all the new processors are snappy enough for what you’d expect from a computer built in 2012. Although, it notes the FusionDrive technology is probably behind a lot of the improvement. What does that mean?

“Very little waiting. The system cold-boots in just 16 seconds.”

Engadget noted that while Apple doesn’t necessarily beat the competition when it comes to hardware, the iMac is still a “tempting offer” given the graphics power, which is better than on competitors’ systems.

Of course, there are always downsides. As PCMag points out, the cost is still comparatively high when compared to the Dell XPS, or the Acer Aspire desktop models, and it complained you aren’t able to upgrade anything other than the RAM.

The publication noted that while the device is a solid buy, “it’s not without a few frustrations”.

Who’s it for?

Everyone, really. If you’re a Mac user, this is a good time to upgrade. Don’t bother if you bought an iMac in the past year or two, you’ll still do fine. But if you’re after a powerful, fast and useful desktop computer that gives you the least amount of fuss, it’s worth shelling out a little extra for the iMac.

There are a few hassles, like the lack of an optical drive. But they’re not enough to recommend the competition, which are mostly Windows 8-based machines.

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