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Summary:

Lost in the madness and hype around iPad Mini is Apple’s newest waif like iMac, which has lost a lot of weight, got a new screen and it might be Apple’s best desktop computer just yet. My quick hands-on with the iMac.

iMac October 2012 event
photo: Om Malik

Apple launched a series of products today including the widely expected iPad Mini and a new Macbook Pro. However, the product that stood out most in my mind is the new iMac, which is thinner than supermodel Kate Moss. It was hard to figure out where the screen ended and computer started in this manufacturing marvel.

While rest of the crowd was taking time playing around with the iPad Mini, I spent my time with both the 27-inch and 21.5-inch models of the new iMac. And after 10 minutes, I knew I wanted one. First, the display screen, while not eligible for Apple’s Retina label, is drop-dead gorgeous. The color and the contrast is amazing. The dreaded reflections are almost nonexistent. You cannot resist the urge to reach out and touch the screen and flick things around much like on an iPad.

Apple new iMac October 2012

The two models on display were top of the line and it was easy to imagine that they would be speedy. However, nothing prepares you for the hybrid Fusion Drive Apple is using in this device. Apple’s iTunes by far is the worst application on my old iMac and that is why I clicked on it first. And it open almost instantly — it felt faster than the iTunes on my flash-drive based Macbook Air.

The other two major applications on a computer for me are the browser and the email client, and both of those were breezy fast with no lag in either of them at all. Of course, both these apps (like other pre-installed Apple apps) reside on the flash-part of the hybrid drive. Ten minutes after using the new iMac, I know I want to spend more time on one.

Here are some of the facts about the new iMac from Apple’s press release.

  • It occupies 40 percent less volume than its predecessor and an edge that measures just 5 mm thick.
  • The new iMac reduces reflection by 75 percent.
  • The cover glass is fully laminated to the LCD and an anti-reflective coating is applied using a high-precision plasma deposition process.
  • It features third generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processors that can be upgraded to Core i7.
  • It used the latest NVIDIA GeForce processors deliver up to 60 percent faster performance for advanced gaming and graphics intensive apps.
  • It comes standard with 8GB of 1600 MHz memory and a 1TB hard drive and can be upgraded to 32GB of memory and a new 3TB hard drive, or 768GB of flash storage for ultimate performance.
  • It has two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports.
  • Fusion Drive combines 128GB of flash memory with a standard 1TB or 3TB hard drive to create a single storage volume.
  • The 21.5-inch iMac is available with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 for $1,299; 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 for $1,499.
  • The  27-inch iMac is available with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 for $1,799 and 3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 for $1,999

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  1. Love them or hate them, Apple products really are works of art (for the most part). It’s the kind of computer you aspire to have on your desk.

    I just upgraded my PC with comparable/better specs for a pittance in comparison (less the screen; I have two LCDs that are totally mediocre), so it isn’t for me. That said, I can’t deny the allure of the new iMacs. It would look awesome standing over my Sayl.

  2. Unfortunately they did away with the line-in jack :(

  3. “It occupies 40 percent less volume than its predecessor and an edge that measures just 5 mm thick.”
    That might be true but the depth with stand is only .15″ less than the outgoing 27″ model.

    “It used the latest NVIDIA GeForce processors deliver up to 60 percent faster performance for advanced gaming and graphics intensive apps.”
    Sorry, the iMac may be using the latest notebook parts from nVidia but they aren’t close to the task of “advanced gaming” or “graphic intensive apps” at the native resolution of the iMacs display.

    Please, do everyone a favor and not regurgitate press release BS. I am a little embarrassed for you.

    1. Dude are you getting a Dell? The iMac is 5 lbs lighter why not make it smaller if you can.

    2. Thanks for reminding everyone that gamers still think their requirements predominate.

    3. I do agree that a list of PR-sounding bullet points in this article looked weak. Didn’t give the impression of a news article. Then again, if Om was basically going to be rewriting those specs into paragraphs anyway, it would have been phony of him to rewrite it in different words, but have the same data, just to make it APPEAR to be original analysis of some kind.

  4. I have a 15″ MBPro Retina. When I look at that new screen is it going to bug me like when I go from MBPro to my April 2009 iMac?

    1. Jason

      I feel that way :-) I now need to figure out what to do with my old iMac ;-) eBay, here I come.

      1. So even though it’s not Retina, I don’t need to worry about being bugged by pixels is what your saying?

      2. This is the saddest part of being in India – not able to get old Apple hardware at bargain prices.

      3. Which is why I maintain an ongoing relationship with a reseller who takes trade-ins. I’ll wait an extra week for them to be in stock after the Apple stores; but, they offer me double the offer from Gazelle for my 2-year-old iMac.

        1. Interesting. Who is that reseller :-)

          1. PowerMax up in Oregon. This will be 3rd trade-in.

      4. Another shout-out to PowerMax in Oregon. Got back quite a bit for an old G4 Mac Mini and for an even older Apple display. They also sell refurbished products. Have purchased, over the years, four different refurbs (and two new computers) from them, and have never had a problem.

        They used to run a Mac-only reseller, “The Computer Store” in the Northwest, which also had a very good reputation as a reseller (and had great service and support).

  5. I have been waiting for the new iMac for a long time. Now I can wait.

    I love being mobile (iPhone and iPad) but when I am at home, I want to sit on a nice chair and a computer with a big screen even if I want to browse internet.

  6. Shame it doesn’t ship with Snow Leopard. Love my iMac but I’m a Lion refusenik

    1. Another Lion hater here. But if it’s any comfort to you, Mountain Lion is a lot nicer. It just *feels* better (and I wish I could be more specific about why I like it more).

  7. Well, I have been waiting for the new iMac to come out and now I am disappointed. I use the SuperDrive from time to time, and I use an SD card alot. Not having these components convenient to use means I will be looking at a 2011 model. I might as well get a refurbished unit and save some more money. I think Apple is getting away from practical products in their quest for thinness. I think the Hybrid drive is a great idea and the display is awesome but the new iMac just loss my business because it lacks some basic usefulness.

    1. SDXC card slot is standard.

  8. Slightly off topic but is it likely an updated cinema display will be launched anytime soon ?

    1. Probably not until they are shipping iMacs and have cleared out the backlog.

  9. I can honestly say I have never used the line in jack of any of my computers for the last five years. And I am a music producer and DJ. Pick up an iMic, it’s completely inexpensive and you get a second output as well.

  10. What’s the fan noise like ? Can it update email and notifications in sleep mode like laptops ?

    1. yeah it can, all models with lion and upwards can

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