The New iMac… buy it – but with caution

Like anything I guess… if you work in an industry long enough you see a trend, seemingly long forgotten and considered a bit daggy, come around again.

In 1996 the Mac was reborn as the “iMac” and it came in different colours and had transparent cases. The keyboard was colour coded, the mouse was colour coded and even the power cable had a transparent vibe that made it stand apart from the normal grey.

They were a huge hit, they reinvented Apple and they are the reason I run macservices instead of working in a garden nursery killing all the stock with my infamous black thumb.

Fast forward 25 years or so and here we are again. iMacs that come in different shades with colour coded mice, keyboards and power cables. It is a retro vibe, but it is a throw back to the past in appearance only. And even then it is a hint rather than a lazy attempt at reliving past successes. 

Leave that to Porsche!

We have the colours of the past  and the colour coded accessaries but gone are the bulky  – and little – CRT screens, the terrible hockey puck mouse  – that was surely designed by a mad man and the see through power cable. That is now braided and colour coded. 

Basically, whatever colour you choose your office desk will be awash with it.

At first glance it might be easy to dismiss these Macs as ugly and a little off putting what with their muted colours at the front and white bezels around the screen.  But trust me all of that melts away once you meet one in person. You actually get to see and feel just how light the whole thing this. How thin the screen is (thinner than an iPhone) and how comfortable it is to look at as the muted colours, white bezels and lack of Apple logo at the front draw your eye to what matters… the content on the screen.

Then there is the M1 chip to consider. As with the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini before it, the iMac is now running Apple’s latest chip. And, just like the other M1 pioneers, this new Mac absolutely flies. With the combination of Big Sur and the M1 chip this Mac represents the nicest experience when using a Mac in years!

So it is thin, it is fast and it is the most exciting iMac to come out in almost a decade.

So should you buy one? Well… not so fast. There are some things to consider.

Firstly they all have glossy screens. At the time of this article the only screen size available is 24 inches and a lovely 30 inch screen should be available soon. But regardless they will all be glossy. Not overly glossy, I will admit, but it is something worth seeing in the flesh before committing.

Then there is the matter of storage. As with all modern Macs, Apple has moved to a straight SSD configuration as apposed to decades old spinning drive or the hybrid black magic, chicken sacrificing mystery that was the Fusion drive.

Now this is a good thing. A very good thing, but in order to keep sticker prices to an attractive level most models are listed with the 256GB SSD option. In most cases this will not be enough, what with most people taking over 2000 photos at every party, trip or picnic and keeping every single one of them… just in case. So when buying you most make sure to look at what you use and buy the SSD that best suits. This is an easy thing to overlook and is nothing but frustrating once you realise the mistake.

And  don’t be tempted to save money and store photos and music, ect on an external hard disk. I mean, not only is this a bad idea from a data security and backup point of view, but as these Macs come with limited ports it can add insult to injury. And while we are talking about ports… lets talk about ports.

…or in some cases, a lack of.

No matter what, I would think strongly before buying the entry level iMac. 

For starters you don’t get the TouchID keyboard and while you might not think this is a big deal, once you have opened your computer, paid a bill or installed an update without using the dreaded login password you are unlikely to want to go back to forgetting, looking up, entering it incorrectly, rechecking, realising your mistake and then finally entering the password correctly, ever again.

You also only get two ports which will, almost certainly, mean you’ll need some ugly (more than likely not colour coordinated) USB hub hanging off your new iMac.

And when I say you get two ports… I really mean it. You don’t even get an Ethernet port!

And finally, the colours are limited to just 4. All other models get 7.

But if you get the middle one (always my default unless there is a particular need), pick your favourite colour and you choose the appropriate sized SSD you will love your new Mac.

There is, however, one final gotcha.

In the past the smaller screen iMacs couldn’t have their ram upgraded anywhere near as easily as the 27 inch models. While it could be done it was a major operation as opposed to a little hatch you lifted in the 27inch model. This new iMac cannot have its ram upgraded at all. Ever. So when you buy it, make sure it is the configuration you want because that is the way it is going to be from day one.

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