Those colorful new iMacs are officially available.
Some dismissed Apple’s pastel color options, and others didn’t like the “chin,” the horizontal area below the display where the Apple icon usually resides. But few have questioned the new iMacs’ functionality.
Each comes equipped with the new Apple-designed M1 chip, versions of which already power some MacBooks and is similar to chips in some of the latest iPhones. The new chip, Apple boasts, makes the new iMacs perform up to twice as fast as previous 21.5-inch iMacs.
Computer tech tips:Speed up your Windows or Mac startup the easy way
Use Google Photos? Unlimited storage goes away on June 1. Here are your other options
iMac details: Apple has a hit on its hands
Consumers evidently have the bug for these new iMacs, too. Preorders began in April, with deliveries beginning to arrive Friday, Apple says. But if you haven’t ordered yet, on Apple.com I see delivery dates beginning June 23 for a 512GB model and July 1 for a 1 TB model.
The new iMacs have a 24-inch Retina display capable of 4.5K video – that’s better than 4K – and they start at $1,299 with 256 GB of storage. They are available in blue, green, pink and silver finishes. Models with a more powerful 8-core graphics processing chip (the others have a 7-core GPU) start at $1,499 (with 256GB SSD).
Luckily, I didn’t have to wait to put one of Apple’s new computers through the paces. The model Apple sent for me to check out retails at $1,699 with a 512GB solid-state drive and is purple-hued, one of the additional color finishes, along with yellow and orange, at the slightly higher price.
iMac review: I’ll take it on the chin
Sure, these iMacs may not arrive in all my favorite colors. But the pastel choices didn’t bother me, and hey, you can always opt for the plain silver finish.
And as for the iMac’s chin, the look works for me because it houses a beefed-up sound system with six speakers, compared with stereo speakers on the most recent 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs.
Unpacking and getting the iMac up and running took about five minutes. The one-piece display and stand rested nicely on my work-at-home desk. I plugged the new magnetic power cord into the back and tapped the power button, located just on the rear lower left of the display.
After logging in with my Apple ID, I set up the Magic Keyboard’s Touch button, which gives you one-touch password verification. The iMac also comes with a magic mouse and pad, and connected over Wi-Fi to my home broadband network.
Can new iMac improve work at home?
The iMac will look good on your desk – and in my case, left plenty of room on my desk for my work MacBook. Apple says the M1 chip, which is actually a “system on a chip,” let designers decrease the iMac’s footprint. Its depth is 5.8 inches, compared with 6.9 inches for the current 21.5-inch iMac. It’s also lighter at just under 10 pounds compared with 12.1 for the 21.5-inch model.
This new iMac has a 1080p HD webcam, so you’ll have no more hazy feeds when you call in to videoconferencing calls. That was certainly the case in the several Zoom meetings I have connected to with the new computer.
I usually use a Blue podcast microphone for recording podcasts but instead just used the iMac’s for an episode, and the three-microphone – Apple says it’s best mic system in a Mac so far – sounded great. I did connect the Blue microphone using a USB adapter, and it worked fine, too.
And the display is large enough to have multiple programs open simultaneously. I had a Word file and Safari up running at the same time, with plenty of room for messages and other alerts.
Then I cranked up a Final Cut Pro video editing software (I signed up for the 90-day trial). I rarely do video editing, but I’ve done enough to know that the iMac handled this like a breeze, with immediate uploading of video files shared in iCloud from an iPhone and quick response on editing commands.
There are also some handy upgrades for those who have multiple Apple devices. For instance, you can “hand-off” certain tasks from your iPhone to iMac (and vice versa). If you have started a note or document – or even a Safari search – on your iPhone, the activity will show up in the iMac’s dock and you can grab it there.
Calls and messages are available on the iMac and iPhone. You can also use a universal clipboard; whatever you highlight can be pasted across devices.
Apple’s iMac plays nice, too
When it comes to fun, the new iMac is a multimedia monster.
The display is large enough for movies, TV and video games. And the robust sound makes beautiful music.
First, I downloaded the video game “Hades” from the Epic Games Store – yes, I know there’s an ongoing court trial between Apple and Epic – because I’ve been lusting after the game since it was nominated for a bunch of end-of-year awards. My character seemed to almost skate along, and the sound of battle and background music immersed me.
For another sound and visual treat, I went to “Sayonara Wild Hearts,” a game I first spied nearly two years ago. The mesmerizing action – pink and purple motorcycles are involved – flowed smoothly on the iMac.
A clip of “Star War: The Rise of Skywalker” felt just like watching on a big screen with plenty of accompanying space operatic sonics. And the super-precise display, which Apple says is capable of reproducing more than 1 billion colors, made watching “Ted Lasso,” the Apple TV+ soccer comedy, feel as if you were watching dailies on set.
With the iMac’s video and sound quality, I could easily see it upgrading any living room, bedroom or kitchen counter or island to help keep the family connected and entertained.
Is this iMac for you? That depends
Depending on your mission, the iMac could raise some concerns. For instance, the onboard solid-state drives provide modest storage, in fact, this iMac has the same storage as the iPhone 12 Pro model I carry (512 Gigabytes). Crazy, right?
However, you can pay more for a larger hard drive. The lowest-priced model can be ordered with a 1TB drive for $1,699. The pricier iMacs, which start at $1,499 with a 256GB drive, come in 1TB drive configurations ($1,899) and 2TB ($2,299).
Like most computers, there’s no optical drive. But you can connect one, as all models have two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports for connecting external drives, cameras or another display. The pricier iMacs also have more connections – two USB 3 ports – and gain Touch ID on the Magic Keyboard.
And this new batch of iMacs feels priced properly between the current 21.5-inch model, which starts at $1,099, and the 27-inch iMac, which starts at $1,799.
The iMac has obvious work-from-home strengths. But what if you don’t always work from home and need a more portable option?
If mobility is key, other members of the Apple family might be worth considering. You could opt for a 10.9-inch iPad Air, starting at $600. And the newest iPad Pro models, announced at the same time as the iMac, are on the way, too.
The 11-inch iPad Pros, starting at $799, have delivery dates starting May 25 on apple.com, while the 12.9-inch models ($1099 and up) have dates starting June 24.
Another option: an Apple MacBook. The 13.3-inch MacBook Air laptop (starts at $999) and MacBook Pro 13-inch notebook (from $1,299), both have the same M1 chip as the iMac, so you’ll get that snappy response. And there’s also a 16-inch model ($2,400 and up).
So you want to buy a laptop:Reviewed.com’s laptop buying guide
If you aren’t wedded to Apple’s operating system, you have a lot of options available in lower price ranges, including Chromebooks. And there are plenty of other options, including versatile light tablet PCs such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7+ for Business ($850 and up) and HP’s Elite Dragonfly G2 notebook PC ($1,800 and up).
There’s also Samsung’s recent Galaxy Book Pro line-up ($999 and up) including a Galaxy Book Pro 360 model with a 15.6-inch display – it also works as a tablet – and 1TB of storage starting at $1,499.
But if you are an Apple advocate, this iMac could be a nice addition to your home – whether for work or play. And if you’re worried about the colors not blending into your decor, just opt for silver.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.