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The iMac G5: A first look at Apple's new all-in-one

September 20, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - OK, let's get the iMac aesthetics issue out of the way right from the start.
Judging from comments on a variety of Mac-related Web sites, Apple fans around the world are sharply divided about Apple Computer Inc.'s new iMac G5 desktop machine. Announced on Aug. 31 and now shipping in dribbles and drabs, the third-generation all-in-one sports a host of improvements and a completely new look. Gone is the flat-panel screen supported by a chrome arm above a hemispherical base.
In its place is an all-white flat screen with the innards of the computer hidden behind it in a case that's just 2 in. deep. Think of it as a grown-up version of the iPod -- certainly that's what Apple wants you to think. Think I'm kidding? See for yourself in this Apple video.
Although Mac fans generally seem to like the hardware (with the exception of the Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics card), they're decidedly mixed in their views of the flat machine's look. Some have called it a step back for Apple from the obviously cool "iLamp" model that preceded it. Others say the new machines represent the best in minimalism and will fit right in with most corporate environments.
For the record, I hold with the latter crowd. I like the look, though not because it represents a great leap forward in the design of desktop computers. The idea of packing a computer's hardware into the area behind a flat-panel screen isn't new. But Apple's usual attention to detail in how that's done, and the resulting iMac hitting store shelves now, shows that old ideas and designs can be made new again.
I should note here that this isn't an extensive review of the iMac G5, which I've had for only four days. Computerworld columnist Yuval Kossovksy will take on those duties in the next few weeks, and is expecting an iMac G5 for review purposes from Apple. Instead, I want to offer a quick overview of the hardware.

iMac G5 up and running
iMac G5 up and running
Image Credits: Ken Mingis
To me, the new iMac looks like a 1969 vision of a 21st century computer, the kind of thing Stanley Kubrick or George Lucas might have included in a sci-fi movie just about the time man was landing on the moon. It has a retro-futuristic appearance that seems bland at first, and then very, very sharp upon further examination and use.
I bought it sight unseen. Or rather, I'd seen pictures of it on Apple's Web site and taken the virtual tour online, but I'd never laid


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