The iMac has had a firm place in Apple’s product line ever since its introduction in 1998. This is hardly surprising considering that many credit it with practically saving the company and helping it re-emerge on the stage. Each of the iMac’s generations came with its own characteristic design that may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but certainly influenced other companies’ design efforts in one way or another. Thus Apple’s all-in-one consumer system quickly secured its spot in the limelight and shows no sign of relinquishing it any time soon.
In 2006, Apple surprised and in some cases shocked the world by switching from PowerPC processors to Intel CPUs. This move opened up a great many options for the company, not the least of which was giving users the option of booting into Windows as well as its own OS X operating system. Many who had previously only hypothetically considered Apple hardware now found themselves with a safety net of sorts, allowing them to test the waters before taking the plunge and switching to Apple completely. Tom’s Hardware had the opportunity to take a closer look at the 24" model of the current iMac series.
Apple tends to polarise its audience. People tend to either fall in love with its designs or reject them. Either way, the iMac certainly has the "Wow-factor" on its side. It’s hard to imagine that full-fledged a PC could be this thin, especially after having looked at the list of components the slim enclosure houses. Although it sounds like an overused cliché (not to mention an advertisement) by now, iMac owners should get used to the question "But where’s the computer?"
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In designing the current generation of iMacs, Apple made a departure from its previous colour scheme. While the previous iMac used the same white-and-acrylic colour combination as the rest of the consumer products (iBook/MacBook, iMac, mac Mini), the current iMac now sports the aluminium enclosure previously reserved for the professional lines (Powermac/Mac Pro, Powerbook/MacBook Pro). This model also comes with a glossy screen that is flush with the rest of the enclosure and no longer recessed by a few millimetres. The iSight camera still sits in the middle of the frame atop the display. Due to the black bezel it is much harder to make out, though. The imac also retains its characteristic chin that has become something of a trademark of the recent iMac lines. On the whole, the new design gives the current iMac a more serious feel that that of its white predecessor.
From a purely visual perspective, the large screen has one major disadvantage. Every smudge and fingerprint stands out on the glossy surface. Apple, always known for its attention to detail, ships a polishing cloth for this very reason.
Apple has also redesigned the keyboard completely. The previous model shipped with the classic Apple keyboard with its sloped rows of keys that notoriously caught every crumb or speck of dust that happened to float by. The new keyboard follows the design motto of the new iMac - it is extremely slim. We’ve recently seen another keyboard that features individually spaced keys with very short travel in an Apple product, namely the MacBook. It seems the company liked this design enough to carry it over into the desktop realm. The white optical Mighty Mouse remains unchanged, although the iMac’s version comes with a very short cord.