posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Jan 2006 11:28 UTC
IconWhen Apple introduced the latest incarnation of its iMac G5 product line, the reactions were almost exclusively those of praise. They had managed to make the iMac G5 even thinner, while at the same time upgrading its specifications. Apple also introduced Front Row, a remote control, and a built-in iSight camera. MacSupport was so kind as to provide OSNews with this new iMac G5; here are our findings.

OSNews will be making good use of the iMac G5. First off, we'll be focusing on the iMac in combination with Mac OS X. In a second article we will focus on a whole different animal: Linux. We will then take a look at how various PPC versions of Linux distributions perform. However, first things first. In this article, we will try to answer the question if the current iMac G5 is worth its price tag.

Please bear in mind that this will not be a review of Mac OS X Tiger, but of the new iMac G5, and its new features in particular.

Specifications

The iMac MacSupport loaned to us had the following set of specifications:

  • iMac G5;
  • 17" (native resolution of 1440x900);
  • 1.9Ghz PowerPC G5 with 512K L2 cache, and a FSB of 633Mhz;
  • 1024MB 533Mhz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-4200);
  • 160GB Serial ATA (7200rpm);
  • DVD+R DL/DVD+/-RW/CD-RW;
  • Ati Radeon X600 Pro 128MB DDR SDRAM, PCIe 16x;
  • Gigabit Ethernet;
  • AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR;
  • Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse (OSNews review), built-in speakers, remote control.

    These add up to a total price of EUR 1437.32 [$1736.28], which includes taxes.

    The machine came loaded with Mac OS 10.4.2 (which I quickly updated to 10.4.3), which is also available on a rescue CD. As I have come to expect from Apple, the machine was very well packaged, and it was literally plug-and-play.

    Build Quality & Design

    The first thing that immediately came to my attention while setting the machine up on my desk, was the build quality of the machine. The solid, hard plastics, the magnesium stand, the total lack of joints; it all added to the quality feeling of the iMac. There's only one other machine I have that comes close to the iMac's build quality, and that is my Sun Ultra 5 UltraSPARC machine (which also feels as solid as a brick). This is a definite step up from my rather, sorry to say, flimsy iBook G4, which is of a much lower build quality than this iMac (battery and keyboard of the iBook don't fit properly, the armrests squeak when pressed, the 'open lid' button doesn't work as it should, etc.).

    The design is a matter of taste, I guess. Personally, when Apple first introduced the iMac G5, I had a hard time accepting that rather huge 'bar' underneath the screen; but after a few months, it grew on me, and by the time they released the new iMac I was accustomed to it. Now, I actually see it as a style element which adds to the looks of the machine. The frontside looks very clean to me, with the built-in black iSight being the only thing out of place.

    The backside of the imac is also very clean, sporting 'iMac' in large, grey letters. The ports are located in the lower left-hand corner of the backside. These include, from left to right: headphone/optical out, audio-in, three USB 2.0 ports, two FireWire 400 ports, the ethernet port, and an Apple Display Connector (ADC; ADC-VGA adapter not included). In the middle of the backside is the power connector. The stand has a hole in it through which you can route cables.

    All in all, I am pretty confident when I say that the iMac G5 is the best-looking computer money can buy. That may not matter in an office or gaming setting, but for settings where the computer is used to interact with customers or visitors (reception desks, banks, shop counters), it does matter. And for those settings, the iMac is the best option. It's all-in-one design also eliminates any clutter.

    Setting up

    When you turn the iMac on, it goes through the usual new-Mac setup routine. Here, I wish to give some praise to Apple's outstanding Migration Assistant. I already own an iBook, and by connecting it to the new iMac using a FireWire cable, you can transfer your entire user account, including files, settings, preferences, passwords, etc., from your old Mac, to the new one. In my case, the whole transfer consisted of 8.5GB.

    When the transfer is completed, your new Mac looks exactly the same as your old one. That is of great importance to me, seeing there's well over a year's worth of files, applications, settings, and tweaks on my iBook. The only problem I could find was with Apple's X11. In order to use GIMP, I have Apple's X11 installed on my iBook. However, after the transfer, GIMP started to complain on the iMac. It said it needed Apple's X11 and refused to load. I downloaded Apple's X11 off of the web, but couldn't install it; it complained I already had a newer version installed. So I couldn't use GIMP anymore.

    Now, let's move on to the new aspects of the iMac.

    Table of contents
    1. "iMac G5: Intro, Build quality, Setting up"
    2. "iMac G5: Remote Control, Front Row"
    3. "iMac G5: iSight, Photobooth, Conclusion"
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