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2012 iMac Review Roundup

 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:20 am    Post subject: 2012 iMac Review Roundup Reply with quote

2012 iMac Review Roundup
Friday, December 7, 2012
Posted by: Staff

It's been out for about a week now, so here's a roundup of reviews for the new 2012 iMac. This roundup includes reviews from Engadget, The Verge, PC Magazine, CNET, TechCrunch, USA Today, ABC News, and SlashGear. You can find all of the links and some excerpts down below. We also wouldn't be surprised to see reviews coming out from Macworld and Ars Technica soon, so please check back for updates to the roundup.

Engadget - "The newest iMac is a great product, and despite Apple's reputation for making pricey things, it's actually a great value, too. Even as other computer makers catch up in terms of screen resolution and industrial design, the iMac stands out with a stunning display that really does cut down on screen glare. As for FusionDrive, it's exceedingly rare to find a consumer system that uses an HDD for storage and an SSD for system stuff. That's a clear step up from typical hybrid drives, which use a much smaller amount of flash memory, mainly for caching and improving start-up times. And while Apple doesn't always win on specs, it makes a tempting offer here: you get beefier graphics than on competing systems, which should help creative professionals, amateur photographers and casual gamers alike", writes Dana Wollman.

The Verge "The display is really the only unequivocated improvement in the new model, and it's a big one. The sleeker, slimmer design is great, but it causes a couple of problems and forces a few unfortunate compromises. Yes, it's faster, but only enough to keep up with the Joneses - equal performance can definitely be had elsewhere. There's no question this is the best iMac yet, but of course it is; Apple doesn't have a habit of making its good products worse. If you weren't in the market for a new all-in-one desktop, the iMac's not suddenly so much more appealing that you absolutely have to have one now, but if you're looking for a desktop PC there's still no better option," writes David Peirce.

PC Magazine - "With its beautiful design and quality fabrication, the iMac 27-inch (Late 2012) is the best all-in-one desktop we've ever seen, with a look and feel that manufacturers will be trying to replicate for years. It's not without a few frustrations, like the lack of height adjustment and a price that will give some shoppers a stroke, but there's no denying that the iMac we reviewed - the top spec'ed model of Apple's best configuration - is worth every penny. As a result, it replaces the Dell XPS One 27 as our high-end all-in-one desktop Editors' Choice," writes Brian Westover.

CNET "You might be alarmed by the fact that the design is the most interesting thing about the new iMac. A thin bezel is nice to look at, but it doesn't improve processing speed, workflow, or overall utility. Fortunately for Apple, it evolved that design from a computer with a strong technical foundation. It is the updates to that foundation, and a few points of polish along the way, that keep this iMac on elite footing. I'll suggest you line up behind the Blu-ray fans to those of you hoping Apple will someday add touch-screen input to the iMac. Instead, this is a computer for serious, performance-driven users, particularly those who need a high-resolution display, and fast graphics and disk performance," writes Rich Brown.

TechCrunch "The 2012 iMac is an update that pushes the needle in all the ways we're used to from Apple improved performance, better hardware under the hood, etc. but it also adds the most dramatic and attractive case redesign in recent memory to the mix. This is both nice from an aesthetic perspective, and a welcome change for anyone who needs to move their all-in-one around or just wants it to take up less space on the desk. It also works in target display mode, making it a sleeker (albeit more expensive) alternative to a Thunderbolt Cinema Display as a second screen for your Mac notebook. Some might gripe about the sacrifice of the built-in DVD drive, but in my book that's not even a noteworthy admission given all the improvements on board, including many more high-speed I/O ports than previous generations have offered," writes Darrell Etherington.

USA Today - "One of the arguments made for desktop PCs generally is that you get more bang for the buck. Desktops typically have more powerful processors, greater storage potential and better expansion opportunities. The iMac isn't big on expansion - you can manually add memory by opening a rear door on the 27-inch model, but not the smaller model. But it does boast some beefy specs, starting with the latest third-generation quad-core Intel processors, plus state-of-the-art graphics technology from Nvidia," writes Edward Baig.

ABC News - "The price aside, if you're in need of an iMac upgrade or you are considering a new desktop for the home or office, the new iMacs are worth a very long, hard stare. This isn't just another "eh" upgrade. This is a desktop with as much sex appeal as the iPad and iPhone," writes Joanna Stern.

SlashGear "The new iMac is a beautiful piece of hardware, that's clear to see. Apple's clever construction techniques have enabled a stylish, distinctive all-in-one, but more importantly they've legitimately improved the user-experience, too. The full lamination process takes the same display pixels as from the previous generation iMac and makes them work harder and look better; you'll appreciate the many pounds dropped from the overall weight of each system from the moment you lift it out of the box," writes Vincent Nguyen.

Update: Down below are those new reviews from Macworld and Ars Technica.

Macworld - "The new iMac steps into the future, with cutting-edge design (literally), updated processor and RAM, better sounding speakers, and reduced-glare (but still glossy!) screens. Unfortunately, the new iMac also follows Apple's trend towards less repairable and upgradeable Macs and the elimination of useful features such as optical drives and FireWire 800 ports. I think it's reasonable to drop the optical drive from laptops, where the benefit of reduced size and weight can be immediately appreciated when you walk around with a laptop in your bag. On a desktop computer like the iMac, it's unclear what the benefits are of going without these conveniences in order to have a thinner and lighter iMac at your desk-unless you're admiring the iMac from the side, of course," writes James Galbraith.

Ars Technica - "Happily, the newest iMacs still retain most of what made past models appealing-the graphics processors won't set any speed records, but they compare favorably to those in competing all-in-ones. Fast, desktop-class quad-core Ivy Bridge processors from Intel power every iMac within the pricing spectrum. The screens, while not of the Retina variety just yet, are excellent IPS panels with great color and viewing angles. There are several improvements subtly enhancing their quality over previous models. And as with other all-in-ones, cable clutter is kept to a minimum," writes Andrew Cunningham.



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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the roundup. Pretty favourable reviews.

I finally got to see the new iMac. I set one up in our Apple reseller store and then I loaded up a bunch of Apple demo content. I like the new look.

I like the new screen. It looks much better. Photos, icons etc. look great, but text still has a long way to go. People that say the iMac is near Retina are on glue, or they have never actually used a Retina Display.

There are a few drawbacks to the new model

2011 Model
$1199
DVD
7200 RPM 3.5" drive
4 user accessible memory slots -> 32GB
screen held on by magnets
SD card slot on side

2012 Model
$1299
No DVD
5400 RPM 2.5" drive
2 non accessible slots -> 16GB
screen held on by glue
SD card slot on back

I haven't had a chance to hear the speakers, but some have given them less than a favourable review.

There are many pluses of the new model.
Better screen (with much less glare)
USB 3
2 Thunderbolt ports
Better Processor
Better Graphics cards

I personally think the pluses outweigh the minuses given that they have significantly more impact on the user experience, for those who do not, now is a good time to buy a refurb 2011 model, or buy a Mac mini.
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aquaman
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
Better screen (with much less glare).

I wasn't buying the reduction in glare, but then I saw this picture. Turns out, it looks like a dramatic reduction.

http://cdn.gottabemobile.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/iMac-Late-2012-Review-04.jpg

I might be a buyer of one early next year. It was always the glare that turned me off from buying an iMac. I like to work in Aperture with photos and it was just too distracting.

Then again, I might go the Mac mini route again if the Thunderbolt display gets the same treatment. Guess I need to see one in person first before deciding.
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aquaman wrote:
http://cdn.gottabemobile.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/iMac-Late-2012-Review-04.jpg


That picture is misleading. Yes the glare is reduced, but not to that degree. Not even close.

I'm not the type to pick apart internet photos, but shouldn't the guy be half cut off in the middle if he were taking it from a fair angle. You'd see half of him in the glare side and nothing of him in the non glare side. By toeing them in like that, he could be picking up entirely different light sources. There is probably a big window or light source to the left of the photographer. Look in the picture with the reflection, he's almost glowing on his left side.

BTW, one weird thing that you will notice about the new iMac with the screen turned off is it has a strong purple tinge (like some window tint does) when viewed from an angle. At least under florescent lights, it does.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
I haven't had a chance to hear the speakers, but some have given them less than a favourable review.

I don't think they sound anywhere as good as the previous model. It's probably based on the smaller ports and lack of resonance in the thinner case.

I also don't care for the glued on screen or lack of access to the internals.

I would also agree about the picture being misleading about the glare. There is still a good bit of glare being thrown off by the glass. I do think the picture quality (contrast, saturation and brightness) of the display is better though. I also thought the viewing angles were slightly better than the previous model. So I would much rather sit in front of this display in a bright room.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just added new reviews from Macworld and Ars Technica to the roundup.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenn wrote:
Just added new reviews from Macworld and Ars Technica to the roundup.


I like the Ars title,

"21.5-inch 2012 iMac takes two steps forward, one step back"

They summed up my review in one line. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I trust the Ars review the most. The others are too gushing and glowing as if they were paid off by Apple to make the new iMac's shortcomings sound reasonable or "innovative".

Anyway... these three things are deal breakers for me:

1. Non user-upgradeable RAM. WHA!?! They couldn't design an access cover for that? Whewww....

2. No second sata port on the logic board for another drive. Apple went OUT OF THEIR WAY to make sure the second sata port was REMOVED from the logic board to prevent addition of a second drive. WOW.

3. Glued enclosure. Imagine buying a car and not being able to open the hood by yourself to change a part that has a high rate of failure. Huh?

Yeah, no thanks. Look, everyone has an opinion. This model is definitely not for me, but I'm sure there are lots of people who will love this and get 5+ years of happy service with it. I'll stick with the Mac Mini for my next machine, although, I'll be looking forward to the 27" iMac reviews.

Note: If you do plan on buying a 2012 21" iMac, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR and upgrade to the fusion drive option. I recently bought the base model Mac Mini WITHOUT the fusion drive, and let me tell you, the stock 5400 RPM HDD makes my system VERY SLOW. Like, it takes 15-20 seconds just to get basic applications to open. So, get the fusion drive to reap the benefits of SSD speed.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I was in the market to change my iMac I would have agreed with your summary Bill and gone for a refurbed 2011 model.

Accessible Ram, Magnetic screen and a 3.5" drive are the must haves for me. I've replaced my failing 320GB HDD in my iMac with a 1TB recently and without access to the internals of the iMac I would have been up a creek without a paddle and relying on a costly Apple repair to replace the HDD. Not good and a definite deal breaker for me. Hard Drives will fail and you need access to them to replace them.

On the point about a 2.5" HDD, I have three main macs

    Mini 2.53 GHz core 2 duo, 4GB ram, 3200GB 7200 rpm 2.5" HDD
    MBP 2.4 GHz core 2 duo, 2GB ram, 200GB 7200 rpm 3.5" HDD
    iMac 2.0 Ghz core 2 duo, 4GB ram, 320GB 7200 rpm 3.5" HDD (upgraded recently to 1TB)

The iMac is markedly the faster of the three although its is the slowest CPU wise. This was still the case even when it had the failing HDD in it.

The main performance difference between the three machine's, I think is down to the Hard Drives. The 2.5" 5400 rpm hard drive in my mini is just a slug compared to the 3.5" 7200rpm hard drives in my iMac and Macbook Pro. The Macbook Pro even with less ram still runs faster than the Mini.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Squid3660 wrote:
I trust the Ars review the most. The others are too gushing and glowing as if they were paid off by Apple to make the new iMac's shortcomings sound reasonable or "innovative".

I think a lot of reviewers these days are afraid to speak ill will of Apple. Almost like they are worried about getting uninvited to events and taken off the list for early review units. Which, to be honest, would probably hurt their sites. I do trust reviews from Ars and AnandTech though. They seem to have less of a vested interest in cozying up to Apple. So, most of the time, you get a more honest look at something.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben Tex wrote:
Squid3660 wrote:
I trust the Ars review the most. The others are too gushing and glowing as if they were paid off by Apple to make the new iMac's shortcomings sound reasonable or "innovative".

I think a lot of reviewers these days are afraid to speak ill will of Apple. Almost like they are worried about getting uninvited to events and taken off the list for early review units. Which, to be honest, would probably hurt their sites. I do trust reviews from Ars and AnandTech though. They seem to have less of a vested interest in cozying up to Apple. So, most of the time, you get a more honest look at something.


Most reviews are just regurgitation of feature sheets with the odd opinion thrown in. I like Ars, Anandtech, iMore etc, but at this point, the reviews should just be first impressions, with the reviews to come.

I'd like to see more actually testing the product. ie. sound levels, reflection level, color accuracy, facetime camera, time to complete tasks (boot times, read/write times), Wi-Fi strength etc.... and then I'd like to see some comparisons to last years model, a mini, a PC etc. Nobody seems to be actually doing any work, they are all just racing to get site hits.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:52 pm    Post subject: i Mac Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
Thanks for the roundup. Pretty favourable reviews.

I finally got to see the new iMac. I set one up in our Apple reseller store and then I loaded up a bunch of Apple demo content. I like the new look.

I like the new screen. It looks much better. Photos, icons etc. look great, but text still has a long way to go. People that say the iMac is near Retina are on glue, or they have never actually used a Retina Display.

There are a few drawbacks to the new model

2011 Model
$1199
DVD
7200 RPM 3.5" drive
4 user accessible memory slots -> 32GB
screen held on by magnets
SD card slot on side

2012 Model
$1299
No DVD
5400 RPM 2.5" drive
2 non accessible slots -> 16GB
screen held on by glue
SD card slot on back

I haven't had a chance to hear the speakers, but some have given them less than a favourable review.

There are many pluses of the new model.
Better screen (with much less glare)
USB 3
2 Thunderbolt ports
Better Processor
Better Graphics cards

I personally think the pluses outweigh the minuses given that they have significantly more impact on the user experience, for those who do not, now is a good time to buy a refurb 2011 model, or buy a Mac mini.
Is the quality control better than the 2011 model? Meaning the parts better.
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:50 am    Post subject: Re: i Mac Reply with quote

marv777 wrote:
Is the quality control better than the 2011 model? Meaning the parts better.


You can't tell just by looking at it. The build quality is equal.

Time will tell if the parts are any better. So far 99.9% of the population has only seen internet photos of the internals.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bandit Bill wrote:
Most reviews are just regurgitation of feature sheets with the odd opinion thrown in. I like Ars, Anandtech, iMore etc, but at this point, the reviews should just be first impressions, with the reviews to come.

I'd like to see more actually testing the product. ie. sound levels, reflection level, color accuracy, facetime camera, time to complete tasks (boot times, read/write times), Wi-Fi strength etc.... and then I'd like to see some comparisons to last years model, a mini, a PC etc. Nobody seems to be actually doing any work, they are all just racing to get site hits.

Well said! I don't even know how they come to an honest conclusion without spending more time with the product. It just seems like a giant rush to be first. And that's on top of some of the pandering to Apple. You know, I actually trust customer/user reviews on Amazon and Newegg more than anything coming from the media. As well as those found on forums like this one.
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