When a computer fades into the background of your work, it has done the job. While that might not be the intention with the Apple iMac, especially since it has an elegant design and, after all, it’s an Apple device, it proved true again and again during my testing.
I’ve had the good fortune to review Apple products since about 2002, dating back to well before the iPhone and even before the iMac. Long before that, I ran a graphics design department and still remember purchasing the original Mac models (and using the first version of Photoshop). Since then, I’ve tested nearly every new desktop and laptop model, and almost every iPhone. Last year, I took a break from reviews to write a book, but I’m back at it again.
Apple sent me the blue model, and within a few minutes of unpacking and plugging in, I was at the welcome screen and going through the setup process. I’ve noticed over the years that Apple has made ever so subtle improvements to the out of box experience, although it has always been stellar of course. I had no trouble with any of the setup.
At just 4.5-inches thin, the iMac is now so elegantly designed, so slight in appearance, that it almost feels like a large laptop on a stand. I mean that in the best way possible.
The thin design is married to the fact that the iMac uses the M1 processor, which means it can be thin and powerful. All of my tests were nimble and fast, including editing a video in Adobe Premiere without any glitches. I attached a 16TB external drive to one of the USB-C ports and had plenty of room to do all of my testing, even though the iMac comes in a version with up to 2TB of storage. The 16GB of RAM is also handy for the Adobe products I like to use.
I tested the FaceTime camera as well, mostly with Zoom calls. At 1080p, it has a crispness that is much better than the el-cheapo versions that come with many laptops these days. In fact, the webcam really exceeded the quality and audio of dedicated webcams I’ve tested.
The display is glorious. It can support up to 1 billion colors and run in 6K resolution. I switched the monitor to support large fonts so I could see everything easily. I also tested saying “Hey, Siri” and enjoyed setting reminders and asking questions about my projects. When I asked Siri about how to find a bookstore in my town, it worked quite nicely.
I’m a big fan of Apple computers, although I am not a fanboy. I will use any device that gets the job done, and I’m not partial to one platform. The whole time I was testing the iMac, though, the actual computer just melted away and I focused entirely on my work.
That’s the real point of using a computer these days. It is a utility, like having electric power and gas in your house. Yet, the design is so elegant that it also makes a statement about who you are as a person and that you care about good design.
Overall, this is a computer I could use every day. As a desktop, it’s not exactly portable, but I have a laptop I use for that anyway. At $1,299 it is not exactly bargain basement as far as price. I like everything about it, though, and think it’s worth that.