I’ve coveted the 24” iMac since it was released in early 2006. I admire its space and energy saving design, as well as the speed offered by its powerful Core 2 Duo processors. Also, the beautiful 24” monitor is perfect for multi-tasking – I can open two full word-processing documents at once. When Apple released the faster, redesigned iMacs a couple weeks ago, I decided the time was right for me to take a leap and make the purchase. I brought home a 24” iMac, with the 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 320 SATA hard drive, and simply added another 1GB RAM chip.

My review in a sentence: The new iMac is simply the best Mac I’ve ever used at any price; with its bundled software and premium components, it’s also an incredible value. I am very, very happy with mine. A few details:

  • The new iMac is very fast. One of the reasons I bought this iMac was to organize all my digital assets – all those years (and gigabytes) of documents, movies, digital photos, and music have added up. Even on my MacBook Pro, organizing all that stuff was tedious, in part because the computer suffered from delays while moving, coping and deleting data. Not on the newest iMac!
  • I am loving the new version of iPhoto, included with iLife 08. The new keyword feature, which allows you to assign individual keys on your keyboard to keywords is excellent. I will finally have meaningful keywords on ALL of my digital photos. Keywords help make Smart Albums and photo sorting and cataloging practical and easy. Also, Spotlight “sees” keywords in iPhoto, making it easy to search for photos on your Mac with 10.4 or higher.
  • So far, iMovie 08 is confounding. I need to use it more to review it.
  • I was concerned about the glassy / glossy screen, but so far it has not been a problem. In fact, I was impressed by the monitor’s apparent color richness and depth. It’s really nice to look at.
  • I am OK with the new keyboard, but not totally convinced. In time I might grow to really like it. At Small Dog, I use the Matias Tactile Pro keyboard – a big battleship of a keyboard with big clicky keys. I’m a slightly slower typer on the iMac than I am at work. It does look “cool” on my desk – and I can use any help I can get in the “cool” department. One important thing about the new keyboard – it sits very flat on the desk, reducing the angle I have to type at, and thereby reducing wrist strain. I do like that.
  • I don’t like the Mighty Mouse, so I didn’t even unwrap it. All iMacs ship with built-in bluetooth, so I used my Kensington Si670m bluetooth mouse instead of the included Might Mouse. (We sell the Kensington bluetooth Si670m mouse here: http://www.smalldog.com/product/42210).
  • I love the silvery / black look of the new iMac. It looks sharp. The iSight is totally hidden in the black bezel around the screen – which I like.
  • The new iMac is silent. I only hear the fans when it “wakes up” from deep sleep.
  • The single 1GB RAM chip (versus two 512MB chips) is a nice touch. It’s great to be able to add up to 4GB (as two 2GB chips) as needed.
  • The new iMac is not yet optimized for gaming. Here’s an exact quote from the invaluable Barefeats.com page. Note they are talking about gaming; the iMac scored well in various Photoshop-type tests:

“The new iMac (2.8GHz, 2.4GHz) with the Radeon HD 2600 Pro GPU disappointed us. It only beat the previous generation iMac (2.33GHz) with the optional GeForce 7600 GT in two out of six 3D games we tested. However, we expect, since the Radeon 2600 driver is brand new, that performance optimizations will be made to it in the near future. When that happens, we’ll retest to see what gains it affords.”

  • Only three USB 2.0 ports on the back of the iMac: LAME! There should at least be five. The two USB ports on the keyboard are unpowered – so you can’t use them to charge or sync an iPod. However, you can use them to transfer photos from a camera.
  • FireWire 800 port on all iMacs: SWEET! I have several FW 800 LaCie drives, so I really appreciate this feature.
  • Mini-DVI port: SWEET! If I wanted to, I could get a second 23” monitor and plug it into the iMac. I won’t; but it’s nice to know I could.

The 24” iMac was a great value when introduced last year at $1999. The current redesigned iMac is an even better value at $1799. In fact, all of the iMacs are great values, with the 20” models starting at $1199. It is a very powerful home computer with the ability to work as pro-caliber machine.

In fact, we’ve sold many dozens of the previous-gen 24” iMacs to high-end, professional graphic designers, videographers, photographers, musicians, as well as avid home users and hobbyists. The Intel-based iMacs we’ve sold have been used in the design and production of nationally-known TV shows, movies, magazines, websites, and books.

I plan on keeping this iMac for a few years. As I mentioned, it’s the best Mac I’ve ever used or owned.

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