10 things you probably didn’t know about Apple’s latest iMacs

The perfect photography companion?

Apple, iMac, Mac, Macintosh, OS X, PC

In customary defiance of industry trends, Apple set fresh Mac sales records by selling 20.6 million machines over the last fiscal year. You could argue that its focus on constantly enhancing its products, rather than treating them as low-value commodity items, is part of the reason it is able to do this.

These 10 things about the iMac support the notion.


Apple decided to use a digital cinema industry color standard called DCI P3 (Apple calls this P3) in the new iMac. Originally developed for use in digital cinemas, the standard meant movies would look more realistic (blacker blacks and more vivid colors -- the red of a London bus is the kind of color you’ll only really see using P3 displays). Apple’s decision to adopt the standard means iMacs provide a 25 percent larger color space than you get from standard sRGB-based displays. Though supporting P3 required a little work, read on….


Panels have forever been lit by white lamps/LEDs, but the white causes problems when reproducing some colors. To get around this, Apple developed advanced red-green phosphor LEDs that enable the iMacs to display a much wider range of red, green and blue for better results. This means the new iMac displays are capable of displaying 99 percent of the P3 colour space, according to Apple (see above).


“We’ve given these a wider color gamut. Basically means they have a bigger palette of colors they can display,” Apple’s Senior Director for Mac Hardware Tom Boger told Medium. The Retina displays deliver 100 percent sRGB – most other displays only manage 90 percent or less.


The iMac is the first cost-effective display to support P3.

Also read: ‘Every Mac we buy is making and saving IBM money’ - IBM


Most displays are driven by two timing controllers, one for the left, the other for the right of the screen. Apple wanted to deliver a more consistent experience, but even the most powerful timing controllers were unable to manage the number of pixels on the 4K and 5L iMac displays. Apple’s solution was to design its own timing controller capable of handling 14.7 million pixels at once. (It's even better if you’re handling 4K video edits on movies captured with your iPhone).


The 5K display can show 14.7-megapixel photos at native resolution with a 218ppi pixel density. What does this mean? It means photos can be viewed and altered one pixel at a time for the best possible final image quality. While images previously converted to lossy image formats such as JPEG won’t benefit too much from improved screen resolution, any images you happen to have around at full-res will deliver much wider color accuracy than you’ve seen before.


To make contrast better, Apple developed a process called photo alignment. This uses UV light to ensure each molecule on the TFT used in the display lies uniformly on the display, so image contrast appears correct.


Apple puts each newly manufactured Mac through a color calibration process to ensure the colors are exact and meet recognized standards. At its simplest, this means that if you display the same image on a line of 100+ newly manufactured iMacs, the picture will appear identical on each one.


To make the display join seamlessly to the iMac’s chassis, Apple turned to a process called friction-stir welding. This is a process used to make airplane wings and rocket booster camps. It works by combining intense heat with pressure to cause the molecules of the two aluminum surfaces to mix together in a robust manner.

One more thing

The Fusion Drive flash drives are up to 2.5 times faster, because Apple deployed a faster PCI flash in the iMac. These drives are available as upgrades across most of the iMac range, but only ship as standard in the two top-end editions.

What does this all mean? At its very briefest, it means the iMac has become essential equipment for any iPhone user who uses the 12-megapixel camera, as it offers the best possible image reproduction and editing at a price you can afford. And that propensity for integration is part of the secret of Apple’s platform success.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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