Apple iMac

In case you have been thinking of buying an all-in-one (AIO) computer, Apple just came up with a tempting new entry-level iMac.

At $1,488, it is cheaper than many AIO computers in the market. But unlike many AIOs, which tend to be - let's face it - bulky and ugly, this latest iMac inhabits the beautiful and sleek ultra-thin aluminium chassis of its more powerful cousins.

It looks like a unibody frame but it is a seamless amalgamation of metal and glass in front, and a mere 5mm at its edges. But at 5.68kg it is no lightweight, so you need to take care when lifting it out of its packaging.

As in all current iMacs, its ports - one Gigabit, two Thunderbolt, four USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack and an SDXC card slot - are all at the back. Aesthetics or no, I still think having to reach behind to insert an SD card is a major inconvenience.

There is also no optical drive but few will miss it. Not to be missed is its 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology which capitalises on the faster Wi-Fi speeds of the newest 802.11ac routers.

The iMac's 21.5-inch full high-definition (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) display is downright gorgeous with great colour contrast and wide viewing angles. In other words, there is little colour shift when you view the display at an angle.

The display's glass is said to have an anti-reflective coating. While not as reflective as many glossy displays, it still shows your reflection.

On the upside, the speakers at the display's base, though barely visible, deliver good omni-directional audio.

For its affordable price, however, something had to give. So it has a slower 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with integrated Intel HD 5000 graphics, 8GB of memory (not upgradeable) and a 500GB hard drive (upgradable to 1TB hard drive, 1TB Fusion Drive, or 256GB of flash storage).

For $300 more, the previous basic 21.5-inch iMac had a much faster 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with a faster Intel Iris Pro Graphics, 8GB (upgradeable to 16GB) of memory and a 1TB hard drive.

The new basic iMac scored 2,736 in the 64-bit single-core Geekbench 3 benchmark test. This is a reasonable real world test for a typical consumer workload, as most applications rarely utilise multi-core processors. By comparison, the older 2013 21.5-inch iMac scored 3,902 in a similar test.

Playing Bioshock Infinite in windowed mode at 1,280 x 960 resolution in High graphics settings, the average frame rate is a decent 22 frames per second but feels jerky with visible screen tearing at times.

However, for everyday tasks such as word processing, e-mailing, Web browsing and listening to music, this latest iMac is more than adequate to fulfil your digital needs.

Many people have always thought Apple products are expensive. The new entry-level Apple iMac proves otherwise and represents great value for money for those who could use a study room or living room centrepiece that handles basic computing duties.

This article was first published on August 13, 2014.
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