Sunday, January 30, 2011

# 5: Apple iMac 27-inch Desktop MC510LL/A

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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Upgrading from an old iMac, July 29, 2010 This review is from: Apple iMac MC510LL/A 27-Inch Desktop (Personal Computers) First things first: the iMac offered on this page has the dual-core Intel Core i3 processor. A configuration with a quad-core i5 processor is also sold by Amazon. In addition, an even more powerful quad-core processor, the i7, is available as a build-to-order option from the online Apple Store. Be sure you're looking at the configuration you want. Apple makes four 27" Aluminum iMac processor setups in all: an i3, two with the i5, and an i7 (see the Comments on this review for a link to Apple's official tech specs).

Now then, on with the show. Many reviewers of the previous release of the 27" Aluminum iMac have already discussed the essential hardware and software features. So, rather than repeating stuff that has already been said, I am going to focus this review on my experience of upgrading from a G4 igloo iMac that was running System 10.5.8 .

Migration Assistant
*I used a Firewire 400 to Firewire 800 cable to move the contents of my old computer to the new machine with Migration Assistant.
*The process was virtually seamless, with only a few minor adjustments necessary to the transferred data. Only four applications required reinstallation: ClamXav, iTunes (due to the Soundflower plugin--in any case, no music was lost or damaged), Microsoft Expression Media 2, and a Juniper Networks remote access program (part of a corporate telecommuting package).
*Rules for Little Snitch, a third party utility, need to be reestablished.
*Customized preferences for Spotlight must be reentered.

Magic Mouse
*iMacs now come with a wireless mouse as standard equipment. The Magic Mouse is a vast improvement over the Apple Mouse (aka Mighty Mouse) because it doesn't have a roller ball that eventually stops working. In fact, there aren't any external moving parts on the Magic Mouse, other than the on/off switch.
*Expos? and Dashboard functions are now on the top row of the keyboard, not on mouse buttons.
*If you're interested in the new Magic Trackpad, you'll have to order it separately. It doesn't come as standard equipment right now.

*The chiclet style keys took me a little while to get used to, but now I prefer them to traditional "long stroke" keys.
*For some reason, Apple has made a compact laptop keyboard the standard iMac keyboard (Steve Jobs must be nostalgic for the original 1984 Mac keyboard). Anybody who relies on Page keys for navigation or on a numeric keypad for data entry is out of luck.
*An extended keyboard with Home/Pg Up/Pg Dn/Delete keys and a number pad is available as a build-to-order option, along with additional memory and other treats, at the online Apple Store.

Audio System
*Optical digital audio input and output requires cables or cable adapters with 3.5mm plugs. Standard size TOSLINK connectors won't work. Also, digital audio I/O is run through the microphone and headphone ports. It is consequently impossible to use headphones or an external mic when the computer is setup for optical digital audio use.
*The speakers are a weak point in the design. They are small, underpowered, and sound tinny. I think the igloo iMacs had much better sound. If I recall correctly, they had a specially tuned amplifier--plus the speakers were fairly large and were not built into the computer housing. Users who use their iMac as their main music source or who work with music and sound will want to buy a separate pair of speakers.

Using the computer: screen, fan noise, heat, Rosetta
*This iMac is all about the gigantic 27" screen. It's incredibly sharp and bright, with better-than-HD resolution. Excel users will love being able to see columns A-AE and rows 1-95 all at once at 100% zoom. No more wasting time scrolling around and splitting windows. Photos, movies, and graphics all look absolutely fabulous.
*I initially thought I would hate the glossy finish on the screen, especially after seeing how much glare demo models at the Apple Store showed. But, as it turns out, the shiny glass isn't distracting at all in my home office. That said, anybody who hasn't ever seen a glossy screen computer in person should go check one out before placing an order.
*Something that I miss from my igloo iMac is the ability to move the screen both from left to right (x-axis) and up and down (y-axis). Aluminum iMac screens can only be swiveled up and down, in a fairly limited range.
*Under most conditions, the computer runs very quietly. Fan noise is normally inaudible.
*The top of the computer can become noticeably hot to the touch. Not hot enough to cook the proverbial egg, but definitely warmer than most other electronic devices (except for the original PlayStation3, otherwise known as the Sony Spaceheater).
*PowerPC applications run well under Rosetta. Once it is downloaded automatically, upon demand, it runs invisibly.

Bottom line: it's the screen, the SCREEN, THE SCREEN!! Massive amounts of screen real estate, combined with fast performance, make the 27" Aluminum iMac a true joy to use for both work and play. One star penalty for not making an extended keyboard standard and for the terrible built-in sound system.

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars More Than I Expected, October 7, 2010 This review is from: Apple iMac MC510LL/A 27-Inch Desktop (Personal Computers) This was a transition from the PC for me, and I was originally going to get a Macbook, until a friend convinced me to try the all-in-one iMac. Great decision, and this has been a perfect experience. I've never had a machine go from in-the-box to in-use in such a short-time. My first reaction when I opened the box was "uh oh, where are all the cables and books?" It set up in no time. The display is nothing short of amazing, it's surprisingly intuitive for someone coming from a PC, and it comes with a stunning array of features like chat, photo apps, utilities, etc. It's nice to be able to turn it on, and use it in seconds instead of several minutes waiting for things to load. I've not had a single software or application conflict or install problem. The Time Machine backup runs silently and reliably in the background, so backing up is not a huge deal like it was for me before. The built-in web camera is clear and the sound is excellent. I use this with photo apps that get memory intensive, and it works remarkably well with them. I would definitely recommend this.
The only negative I can think of at all is that my financial software, Quicken, is not available in a comparable version for the Mac - there is a version of Quicken for the Mac, but it doesn't have the features that I need that the Windows version has. The other negative is that iWork doesn't substitute for Microsoft Office -- I can't create spreadsheets in it and have them open up in Excel, so if you really have to use Microsoft Office, you will need to buy the Mac version of it instead of trying to move between Office and iWork.
Small things though, and it is worth working around them. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? 

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars iMac Easy, September 17, 2010 This review is from: Apple iMac MC510LL/A 27-Inch Desktop (Personal Computers) What a computer this is! I bought an iMac to replace my Toshiba laptop. I believe this is one of the best investments I've ever made. Sure you can buy a Windows computer for substantially less, but what have you got? A computer that crashes constantly and never lives up to the hype that Microsoft puts out. Windows Vista and Internet Explorer are a constant irritant. And I've used Windows 7 and can't say it's any better than all of the previous versions.

What a breath of fresh air from Apple. One reason I replaced my Toshiba laptop with the big 27" iMac was because I almost never took the laptop off my desk. I have another at work, so it wasn't necessary to move it. The big screen is nothing like you have seen before. I also got the Airport Extreme and hooked up the printer so we can print from any computer in the house. This is a really handy and nice feature, especially for our daughter's homework. The wireless keyboard and mouse is great. I also ordered the trackpad. It's easy to maneuver the pointer around the screen, and you can do so much more with it than a regular touchpad e.g. you can use 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers to navigate. I also got 8GB of RAM on this particular model.

Do yourself a favor and get the iMac with the 27" screen. The i3 processor is very fast and handles anything I do. Another plus, you don't have to worry about viruses on Apples. Thats quite a savings right there. You only live once, so do it right. I bought my first Apple product about a year ago -- an iPod. Results count, and I'm a believer now. I just wish I hadn't waited so long. As I noted above, I also got the Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station (Simultaneous Dual-Band) (MC340LL/A) to go with my iMac, and I can recommend that as well.

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