I've been a Mac user since the very first model, so I've lived through a lot of ups and downs through the Mac generations/models. This 2011 iMac is the most elegant, most powerful one I've owned, taking up less space (no tower, not even the small footprint of the Mac Mini) with greater expandability.
If you aren't familiar with the concept of the iMac, you need to know this: the iMac is an "all-in-one" -- that is, the CPU (the computer part) and the monitor are combined into one unit with an integrated stand. Your SuperDrive (for playing and burning CDs and DVDS) and memory-card reader are located on the right side of the screen, and all the ports in the back. It comes with a wireless mouse (called the MagicMouse) and a wireless keyboard (no numerical keypad, although one can be purchased separately.) Everything you need comes in the box. If you aren't familiar with the Mac OS, go to the Apple site for a tour or to an Apple store to see a demo. Chances are, you'll love it, although some Windows users do experience an adjustment period.
The monitor/screen is gorgeous in keeping with other recent iMac models. For many people, the stunning display is the selling point, mostly because you cannot find anything like it on any PC monitor. You'll likely be blown away when watching HD content. Wow. Simply wow. If you, like me, have a lot of windows open while working, the huge size of the screen allows better viewing of multiple windows, in full, without have to click back and forth. I had my Mac Mini attached to what I considered an excellent ViewSonic LCD monitor, and when I had both machines up and running during the transition period, I couldn't stand to look at the ViewSonic anymore. Some people have complained about glare, but I haven't experienced any problems at all -- not from floor lamps or desk lamps, although, to be fair, my windows are directly behind my screen, so that sun never hits it directly.
Another reason to upgrade to this iMac is the now-standard quad-core Intel i5 (or, with the customized upper end 27" model, i7) processor, better graphics chip, 1T internal hard drive (standard), and memory that can be expanded up to 16 GB. Since the 21.5 inch version is expandable only up to 8 GB, users who expect to tax the memory either now or in the next few years will want to get this larger screen with its four memory slots. Although I haven't increased the memory, online instructions make it seem like a breeze. Note: installing memory yourself will not void your warranty or AppleCare, although any damage incurred as a result of self-installed memory will render that part of the warranty void.)
This iMac is nimble as it tackles tasks that used to make my Mac Mini struggle. If you want a machine that mostly does email, web surfing, and word processing, you won't notice much of a speed difference except in start up time, but if you do video and photo editing, play games, or use any high-demand software package, you will notice the improved power at once. Note/Update: this Mac now ships with Lion, Apple's newest operating system.
Apple has made a big to-do about the two Thunderbolt ports (one on the new 21.5 model, two on this one), but right now, that's not going to do most of us much good since few devices that use the technology exist. If, however, Apple is correct in predicting the near-future explosion of the faster data transfer of Thunderbolt technology, it will put new Mac owners ahead of the curve. Right now, though, Apple has chosen to skip USB 3.0, and instead includes four USB 2.0 ports along with the Thunderbolt ones. I'm not happy with that decision, but if Thunderbolt becomes widespread, I'll change my mind.
If you already own a Mac, I highly recommend getting a firewire cable to transfer all your settings and files to the new one. My Mac Mini has a six-pin firewire, and this iMac has a 9-pin, so I bought Tripp Lite F017-006 IEEE 1394b Firewire 800 Gold Hi-speed Cable, 9pin/6pin - 6ft. If you plan to do this, buy the firewire in advance of receiving the iMac so you'll be able to use it during set up; it saves a lot of time rather than having to go back and use Migration Assistant, although it's not difficult to do. I had 118 GB of files and applications on my Mini, and it took about 3 hours to transfer everything. But when it did, I had all my applications, settings, photos, iTunes library, videos, email (with passwords), keychain, browser bookmarks, etc. on my new iMac. I expected to spend days setting up a new computer -- and it did most of the work itself. Of course, there were things I still needed to do, such as authorize my ITunes account to this computer and perform some software updates to be able to use the included iLife 11 suite. And I still need to figure out how to open Word documents without first opening Word. Small things, though, considering.
Once upon a time, I used to get just discontinued models at a cheaper price, just as the last generation of iMacs are currently available for less from third-party sellers, but the problem was always obsolescence within too narrow of a window. The way I use my computer now won't be how I use it three years from now. For that reason, I waited for the new 27" models, which are offered at the same price as the old (before they were discontinued) with greater power.
Besides the USB 2.0 decision, the only thing I don't like is the small keyboard. I wish Apple made a wireless keyboard with a numerical keypad. As it is, if you want a keypad, you'll have to purchase a wired aluminum keyboard. Using a Windows keyboard is a possibility, although not all the keys will work correctly, and you won't have that handy SuperDrive eject key.
I'm not going to get into Mac v. Windows argument since I've used both, and I prefer the Mac environment. Others won't. But I will say that if you want a powerful machine with an awesome display and compact footprint, this iMac is your baby. NOTE: If you have questions about something I didn't cover, feel free to ask in the comment section.
-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
After waiting and saving for several months, I have just unboxed my brand new 27" iMac and am absolutely blown away! Being a first time Mac user, I can attest to the ease of transition into the world of the Mac OS. The iMac could not possibly be easier to set up (there's just the power cable to plug in). When it first boots, it visually instructs you to turn on your mouse and keyboard and literally guides you in less than 30 seconds through a total set up. This particular model comes with the latest version of the Mac OS 10.6.6 and, of course, has iTunes pre-installed along with iPhoto, iMovie, Safari web browser, FaceTime, PhotoBooth and Garage Band. If you have any familiarity with using a current iPhone or iPad, you'll have a leg up on other newbie Mac users as there are several similarities between the full-scale Mac OS and the mobile devices.
In terms of the hardware: this is the *new* Intel i5 Quad Core Sandy Bridge processor (the latest generation of desktop processors) featuring two of the new Thunderbolt high-speed data transfer ports. While presently the Thunderbolt interface is too new for consumer devices, when it becomes standard issue this will be an amazing, cutting edge feature. However, the most impressive and notable feature of the 27" iMac is it's incredible high definition, ultra-high resolution display. This is NOT just any 27" LCD display-- the 2560 x 1440 resolution is an amazing selling point (compare that to the typical of 1920 x 1080 resolution on run of the mill monitors) and you will be blown away! This display is huge, gorgeous and an absolute dream to work on. When used as a television your 1080p videos couldn't possibly look any better. It's also worth noting that on it's own, a monitor (from Apple or any other manufacturer) with this resolution will easily run you $1000-1300. When combined with the newest generation Sandy Bridge i5 and all the other components, the iMac itself is a tremendous value.
After having used PC's my entire life, I am beyond pleased with my opening impressions on the new iMac. I will be using this as my sole home/office computer (my iPad goes with me on the road). Being a Chemistry PhD student, I am swamped with dozens of lengthy PDF's to read through on a daily basis and reading on this screen has, thusfar, been a great experience. If you are considering the transition to a Mac, I couldn't recommend the new iMac more highly. Its a phenomenal machine at a great price. It sure doesn't hurt that it looks beautiful to boot!
Overall: A+, Highly highly recommended!
on July 14, 2011
I bought this iMac to replace my aging 6 year old Windows desktop. The price tag is much higher than a Windows PC with comparable spec, so I was hesitant to commit to such a big investment. After long hours of research and actually playing with it in an Apple store, I finally decided to bite the bullet. That was almost two months ago.
The 27" display is amazingly beautiful. The resolution is higher than a 1080p HDTV. The available workspace on screen is huge. I could have multiple applications running and their windows don't even overlap! It's fast and reliable. OS X is so intuitive that you don't really need any manual to use it.
The best feature? You can run Windows (and other operating systems) on it too! I have Windows 7 installed alongside the Mac OS with the help of an application called "Parallels Desktop for Mac". Now I can run Windows applications (e.g. Office 2010), while at the same time run Safari, or any other Mac applications. This is truly "two machines in one." I have all the benefit of the Mac for family use, plus the ability to run necessary Windows applications for my office work. All of them work together side by side in harmony. How beautiful is that? The keyboard and mouse are both wireless (Bluetooth), so my desk looks extremely clean. No cables whatsoever beside the power line in the back. Incredible.
If you still hesitate about buying this iMac, don't. It's the best computer I've ever owned. For a guy with over 20 years of experience on various UNIX, Windows and Mac computers, that's saying a lot. My next project? Put Linux on it.
on November 13, 2011
I have been an avid PC user over the last 12 years, but I have had several Apple products over that time including: the Original click wheel iPod, iPhones, iPads, and most recently a Nano. I have been pretty happy with all of the Apple Products I owned, but I bought into the hype that the Macs were overpriced based on their hardware compared to a PC with comparable hardware. To be fair Windows has been O.K., but I always found it a little quirky and the bloatware, spyware, and constant updates finally made me stretch my computer budget and grab the iMac. Hardware aside, the Mac OS totally justifies the extra cost to purchase a Mac over a comparable PC. I have been using Mac OS for only a couple days and already I feel as comfortable with my iMac as I have with any of the Windows computers I have owned. Everything is easily found, no digging through 3,4, or 5 menus to find anything. The included iPhoto and iMovie software are excellent and blow away the default Windows programs for managing Pictures and editing movies. Start up times from both shut down and sleep are lightning fast, even when compared to the Intel i7 Alienware I had prior to buying the Mac. There are several other things that I like software wise which have to do with the gestures on the Magic Mouse as well as some of the basic options for power management etc...
In my mind the Mac OS made the switch worth it, but when you factor in the beautiful clean design and the 27" Super HD display this computer is a steal. The fit and finish are outstanding and the iMac looks great sitting on my desk with no other cables or clutter. While this does have a large display, the iMac itself is compact and doesn't take up much space at all. The Magic Mouse is like no other interface device I have used before. The whole top of the mouse is a touch screen itself and the gestures are intuitive, easy to learn, and customizable. The keyboard is great, although a little small for typing. The shortcut keys for brightness, volume, and other things require no customization and work right out of the box. I have tried X-Plane 9 Flight Sim and Half Life 2, just to get a feel for the graphics and I must say that even with just the 512MB Video Card, it does a very good job of generating some really nice graphics. Granted neither of these games is cutting edge, I am sure that it could handle far more and both games look amazing on the 27" High Res display!
Overall, I am extremely impressed and very happy with my purchase. Having said that there are a few things which I will have to get used to. They are all hardware related as I am yet to find a fault with the software. Because of its focus on the design of the iMac, Apple sacrificed a little bit of convience by not having USB ports on the front or even the side of the iMac. All the ports for USB, Firewire, and Audio are on the back bottom right corner and getting to them is a little bit of a pain. It is also somewhat surprising that there was no option for a Blu Ray Player on the iMac, ecspecially given the resolution of the monitor. Standard DVDs look as though you are watching a VHS as there is no up coversion built in to the iMac. The playback is 4:3 on a standard DVD. I won't be using it for movies much anyway so not really a problem for me and iTunes and Amazon Instant Video are both available. The monitor itself can be a little overwhelming and does tend to strain my eyes, but enlarging the font size and zooming in using the Magic Mouse make reading on it much easier.
Overall I would certainly recommend this computer to anyone in the market for an all-in-one or standard desktop. The transition to Mac OS is easy and any problems you run into can be easily solved by a Google search. I would definetely recommend heading to a local store to look at them before deciding on the 21.5" or the 27". I do think the 27" maybe a bit overwhelming and unnecessary if you aren't going to be doing any graphics related work or gaming. The 21.5" looks great to and even the entry level iMac at $1120 is not too far off spec wise from the entry level 27" aside from the 1TB Hard Drive vs. 500 GB on the 21.5". The only upgrade I plan on making is to get more RAM. I would have bought more initially, but you can save a bunch doing it yourself. 8 GB of extra RAM is only $45.99 and RAM is the only Apple Authorized Upgrade the end user can make and still keep your warranty.
Update 11/17/2011: Just a quick update to let everyone know that unfortunately Apple does not Offer HD Movies to buy or rent from iTunes on the Mac, nor does Amazon Instant Video. HD movies are offered on iPad, iPhone, and Apple T.V. and Amazon offers HD on Mobile devices and on through the App on my Sony Blu Ray Player. Not quite sure what the deal is there, but it looks like to enjoy HD Movies on the iMac, an external Blu Ray Player will be required.
on July 6, 2011
I'll begin by saying that "There's really no reason not to buy a MAC!" I've been completely impressed over the last month - specifically in the following areas:
- Speed (All functions are amazingly fast!!!!)
- Upgradeable Memory (Ability to upgrade memory- up to 16GB in minutes!!!)
- Multi-Tasking (Easily runs multiple applications and begs for more)
- Display!!!! - Most vibrant high resolution display available. You have to see it to really appreciate it!
- True Plug & Play - All of my devices connected upon start-up immediately (CyberPower UPS, Canon Scanner, Western Digitial Network Attached Storage, HP Wireless Printer...) I never had to load a driver, insert a cd or touch a thing. It all happened behind the scenes!!!
- Fully Integrated With My Yahoo Account!!! - Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Calendar syncs and updates instantly!
I was hesitant to make the switch from PC to MAC but I am completely happy that I did. It's probably a matter of personal preference but the MAC OS is amazingly intuitive and provides the stability, ease of use, and power that I need to do everything from web surfing, email, media management(music/video), Word, Excel, Powerpoint to high end photo and video editing! An added bonus - it's an absolutely beautiful computer that complements any desktop!!!
on February 4, 2014
My 27" Mac (bought April 2012) had the backlight go out after 11mo (symptom: dim on nearly 1/2 the screen / lower-left). Apple care took care of the repair at my home, but now I am finding that same problem return 8 months later! Apple is telling me they will replace the same part again. I am asking for root-cause, but they are protective to talk about that.
Look on-line and you will find a large number of owners having the same problem. There was even a class-action lawsuit filed over this issue: tuaw.com/2013/10/29/27-imac-display-fault-spurs-class-action-lawsuit/
buyer be ware
on June 7, 2011
Finally made the switch to a Mac and I love it. It took a week to get adjusted to the Apple operating system. A few things seamed backwards at first; however I got used to it very quickly. The operating system and apps are easier to use than Windows and window based apps. I find it to be easier to switch between opened windows and more productive. I love expose and spaces and the gestures. If you are debating switching to a mac.... go for it. Macrumors is a great place to learn all about the Apple hardware and software and you can get a lot of help in the forums.
on December 29, 2011
I have finally made the complete transition from PC to Mac over the past couple years, and I will never look back! This is the second 27" iMac I've owned, and I can't live without it. I upgraded from the early 2009 version even though my 2009 was running like a brand new machine (I'll explain the reason for the quick upgrade later).
So, here's how I use my iMac... I spend about 8 hours a day on it, for work and play. I run Safari, Mail, iTunes, my magicJack phone, and Microsoft Office (Excel and Messenger mostly) simultaneously almost the entire time, and it's flawless! At times I even run Photoshop Elements and/or iPhoto on top of all these things. This computer does not miss a beat! On top of my usage, my fiancée edits TONs of pictures each week. It never freezes up or stalls; it takes anything we throw at it with ease.
The quad-core processor definitely comes in handy when running task-heavy programs, and running many programs at once. I don't think the things we do on this machine even challenge it a little bit. The processor speed on this model isn't the highest around, but I don't think the average person would notice the difference between 2.7 and 3.1 GHz. Now, if you're just one of those people that has to have the biggest and best, by all means, go for it! However, the processor speed on this model is more than sufficient.
The display is absolutely beautiful! When people come over and see the size and clarity of this thing, they are awe-struck. And if you are a more-than-casual user like I am and plan on running more than one or two applications at once, I would definitely recommend the 27" model over the 21.5" model. You can arrange your open windows very nicely, and you don't have to worry about minimizing and expanding when you want to switch applications or windows as you do on smaller screens. And again, the resolution - it's amazing!!
I won't touch 4 GB of RAM or 1 TB of storage, so there's nothing for me to worry about with these two. I do like that the memory is upgradeable, even though I doubt I'll ever expand it. I just like knowing that the option is there. I can't imagine needing as much memory and storage as this machine has.
There are so many other great things about this computer that are unexplainable... nuances and intangibles that you just have to experience for yourself.
There is one warning I would like to give about the iMac: Do not burn candles within a few feet of it! I made the mistake of burning a candle on my desk with the iMac, and the candle smoke was drawn into the display from the vent on the back of it. I mean, it was actually inside the display! It turned out to be about a $600 fix since the whole display had to be replaced, and I didn't have Apple Care (it was over a year old when it happened). So, lesson learned.. no candles near the computer (or smoke of any kind), or make sure you have Apple Care. I didn't go through with the repair. Instead, I decided to sell it to a friend and upgrade.
Bottom line... Just buy this machine! You won't regret it! It's one of the best purchases I have ever made.
on August 2, 2011
This is my first Mac and I have to say I really enjoy using it. It's much faster and more reliable than using a Windows PC. I also bought Parallels 6 and it easily moved everything from my PC over to this machine so I can still use certain programs that aren't Mac compatible. I also bought 8 gigs of Corsair memory to upgrade the system to 12 gigs which really helps Parallels/Windows 7 run better.
This is a beautifully designed piece of hardware and I regret all those years I made fun of Apple.
Edit: May 1, 2012
I've had this iMac for almost a year now and I'm still impressed by the quality, speed, and stability of this computer. I never have any lockups or random reboots, I haven't had one virus or browser hijack, and Windows 7 runs better in Parallels than it ever did on my PC. Plus, the 27" screen is so bright and clear I could look at it all day. I can't even stand to use my PC at work anymore.
I love this computer so much I'm actually buying another one for my son so we can toss his Dell in the trash where it belongs.
Edit: Dec 28, 2013
2.5 years later and the system still amazes me. No problems, no lockups, so easy to use. I bought one for my son with the same results, it just runs and I never have to touch it. I'm so glad I dumped all of our PC's and switched to Mac's and I recommend them to all my friends.
There are a lot of 5 star reviews out there and I generally agree with all of them, so I'd like to focus my review on my experience buying this iMac for my mom for her birthday. Mom is in her mid-60's and has been using a PC casually for the past 10 years or so (when I got her her first one).
Since I am pregnant with what will be Mom's first granddaughter, I wanted her to have a great multimedia computer for video chatting the baby and photo viewing since I don't live nearby and with modern technology, you really can close a lot of distance. So that was part of why I bought her this gorgeous iMac for her. When the box arrived, Mom assumed that she would need someone to come set it up for her, and since I'm not local she thought she'd have to wait. If it were a PC I might have agreed, but having lots of Mac experience myself, I decided that she could do it! I talked her through getting it out of the box, setting up the wireless mouse and keyboard, and installing Chrome & Google talk. It was a breeze. Mom had no issues. And once we had video chat up and running, she wouldn't get this huge goofy grin off her face. It was so nice to see! She couldn't stop gushing about how gorgeous it was and that this was really her computer. The transition from PC to Mac was also no issue for mom. In a way I think that the less complicated someone's use with a computer is, the easier the switch is. I was worried she'd need to adjust, but she still doesn't understand what the difference is. She still just clicks to get to a browser and pictures still upload from her camera. She asked me "what's the big deal that I've been hearing all these years? And why doesn't everyone have an Apple computer since it's so much better?" Anyway, she's up on email, games, photos, chat, and online shopping without any issues at all.
Now, a few weeks later I can see that Mom still has that goofy grin on her face every time we video chat. This is a computer that anyone would be extremely proud to own and use, because you really do get the feeling that you are using the best. It was nice to be able to tell my mom (and mean it) "Mom, you have the best computer that anyone has in their home"
This is just an amazing machine. Gorgeous, easy to set up, and a joy to use. I haven't had an ounce of regret over the purchase price. Worth every dollar. For those of you thinking of splurging as a gift, I highly recommend this for Moms and Dads everywhere.