Let's Get It Started in Here §

I mentioned briefly a couple of days ago about the new iMac G5, and that my feelings toward the machine could be summed in a single word: stunning.

I stand by that review, and though I have not had the opporunity to physically use one (I can’t afford to go to Paris to attend AppleExpo), my review stands. I want to discuss the reasoning behind that review in this article.

applaud the iMac design team for this. They were faced with a huge area below the screen, and the fact that they chose to do nothing with it adds up to pure design brilliance.

For Starters

First of all, it is a G5 based architecture. That’s 64-bit computing, with a 533 Mhz (on the low end model) - 600 Mhz (on the middle and top of the line models) front side bus. That is incredible in today’s machines. The frontside bus is what facilitates communication with the processor, and the faster that is, the faster the overall performance. Consider that most PCs today don’t go above 133Mhz, and you see the performance difference.

In addition, this iMac supports up to 2GB of ram. The previous only supported 1GB; and while the Power Mac G5 can take you up to 8GB of RAM, this is not bad for a consumer modelled PC.

Design

There is a lot of debate over the design of the new iMac. Generally it is like this: PC Analysts hate it, and criticize it; Mac users and most design zealots love it. I fall into the latter category. The design meets function aspect of this new iMac is far superior to any previous iteration of the machine.

First of all, this iMac returns to true all in one computing; as its original iMac was famous for. This form factor embodies the soul of the Macintosh in general. From day one Steve Jobs pushed for all in one, and sacrifices were made in the beginning to push that. Here in 2004, those sacrifices aren’t as obvious and the design is able to be “stunning.”

The thing that gets me the most, and makes me thing this iteration will be far more successful then the others, is the user servicability factor. In previous iMacs (even the eMac), user serviceable parts were limited to the RAM and AirPort. It was not recommended that users delve any further, especially with the old CRT form factors, because of pent up static electricity (it could kill you) and other the general way that it had to be designed did not allow for it.

In the new iMac, this is not the case. There are three screws on the bottom of the machine, simply unscrew them (and they are caputured, by the way, which means they do not come all the way out, so there’s no way to lose them: brilliant) and slide the back off. Upon completion of that action you have access to every single aspect of the machine. You can add RAM, an AirPort card, but you can also swap out the Hard Drive, service the Optical Drive (slot loading Combo or Super Drive), etc. This will be a selling factor for many PC users who like the ability to service their machines themselves.

Simplicity has always been job 1 with the iMac, and that philosophy has not succumbed to function in this iteration of the family. All of your ports are lined up on the right hand side of the display, with a large enough opening in the stand to run your wires through to prevent clutter. The power button, as always, is on the back and out of the way; yet, as Phil Schiller pointed out at the introduction, it is the only thing on the back raised above the surface making it super easy to feel around and find it.

The Front Bezel

Many have criticized the front of the machine, saying that the lower “lip” is far too large, and makes it unsightly. I disagree with this entirely. In my opinion, it could be a lot worse. While I can admit I see where this line of reasoning comes from, I disagree that it detracts from the overall presentation. The machine is stunning, in that the space in front is sparse. There is one thing, the Apple Logo, and that’s all that needs to be there.

This is an excellent example of minimalist design; the lower lip needs to be large so that the Mac can house it’s power supply below the system board and I/O devices within. Apple could have easily adorned the front with more gadgets (USB and Firewire on the front perhaps, gross) or even cluttered it up with Stereo Speakers (as they chose to do on the eMac); I think the fact they chose one single device (the Apple logo) surrounded by white space is brilliant. It heralds in the minimalist principles of the iMac and pulls together the entire presentation.

I applaud the iMac design team for this. They were faced with a huge area below the screen, and the fact that they chose to do nothing with it adds up to pure design brilliance.

Price Tag

You have to love the price. $1299 for the low end, $1499 in between, and $1899 for the high end. I think it is well worth it. They may have skimped on some of the technologies, but doing so was necessary for this price point; and those technologies are arguably unnecessary for this consumer targeted iMac. (these include Bluetooth included and Firewire 800). I can only assume that Apple knows better than us here.

Marketing

No discussion of the iMac G5 is complete without a look at the marketing aspect. Absolutely brilliant. For a long time it has been suggested that making the iPod available to Windows users was to open up the market, but mostly to open up the market to people who may never have thought of using Apple technology previously. Once they use the iPod, see its simplicity and its elegance, the might be tempted to try a Macintosh. There have been no numbers (as of yet) to show that this is working, but the single phrase associated with the iMac G5 marketing should change all of that; and is clearly aimed at those Windows users who own iPods. What is that phrase?

From the makers of iPod: The New iMac G5

Simple in its approach, adoarned with a photo displaying the two cousins side by side from the side. The sleek lines and obvious attempt at making them look similar is very clear in these shots. And “From the makers of iPod” simply drives the case home.

This new iMac is simply stunning, from the price point to the design; the marketing is clever and I have to hand it to Apple, it is the perfect timing. Will the iMac enjoy the same success the iPod did? One can only speculate at this point, but judging from the amount of negative comments from industry analysts, my answer is yes. Afterall, the iPod wasn’t received with praise when it was released either… in fact most Apple products aren’t. The consumer is a whole lot smarter than the Analysts.

See for yourself, visit http://www.apple.com/imac/.

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