iMac form and function

Throughout the years I have mainly put together my own systems when it came to PCs and never worried about fancy cases or doing case modes to do a system look nicer. Components were more important to me than how the system itself looks. I have the 20-inch model with a 2.4GHz processor and the new chipset so the hardware itself is quite capable.


What I find fascinating is the system design and the attention to detail that Apple is known for in this regard. This is really a system that you can place anywhere and look really nice in any room. This can’t be said about most PC’s unless you go for a higher end gaming system where aesthetic design is usually important. Even the packaging the system comes in appears to have had a lot of attention to detail.

The aluminum skin is quite nice to look at and I prefer it to the white plastic look of the previous iMacs. They seemed to come write out of the Woody Allen movie Sleeper where everything had that white futuristic look. I haven’t used a glossy display before and this is the only option for the new iMacs. It takes a little to get use to because it is highly reflective, but once you do I find I prefer it to my other monitors. Blacks really look black and watching video on it is quite pleasing. The viewing angle is not suppose to be as good on this display, but I haven’t noticed any problems in my use of it over the last two weeks.

Apple’s design philosophy seems to be the less the merrier. The iMac has just one button on for power and it is placed on the back, but very easy to get to from the front. Even the power cord has been designed to look nice. The USB ports, firewire 400 and 800, Ethernet, and mini-DVI port are all arranged on the back in a small section. The silver aluminum base allows the power cord to easily pass through it, can tilt the monitor, and provides a convenient shelf for the keyboard.

Though what I find annoying about Apple’s peripherals is that they seem to be designed more for looks than usability. The aluminum keyboard with white keys looks like it should be in an art museum and is really quite striking. Some seem to like it and some don’t. I am in the not liking its functionality camp. It sits way to flat and I have a difficult time keeping my hands aligned correctly on. The keys though do have a nice click to them. I prefer a keyboard that accommodates your wrist easier and so use a wireless Microsoft keyboard to control both my iMac and PC. The keyboard does have an extra USB port on it so that is a nice touch. The iMac itself includes Bluetooth and their is a wireless version of the keyboard and mouse available.

The Apple Mighty Mouse is difficult to get use to if you have used two-button mice. Again the mouse is nice looking – though looks too much like a bar of soap. The scroll button is really small, but quite responsive. I have read though that most people quickly dump Apple mice in favor of ones used by the PC. I do wish that Steve Jobs would just finally admit that one button mice are stupid. Clicking a mouse and having to hold down a key at the same time is just lame. I do realize that the Mighty Mouse is a multiple button device and can be setup to act like a two button mouse, but the squeezy buttons on the side have no tactile response and I just found it uncomfortable to use.

Microsoft has major design problems with Windows, but their mice and keyboards have always been innovative and nice to work with. My Microsoft Mouse is quite comfortable to use, but it is pretty ugly. I wish Apple and Microsoft would get together on this and give us the best of both words of design and functionality.