The New iMac: One Thing Too Many

by Hadley Stern

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The new iMac has it all. A G5 Processor and a stunning design. It is fascinating to look back at the evolution of the iMac design. The first, now famous, Bondi Blue iMac with its futuristic all-in-one design. Next the cube-like-base with a unique swivel arm holding a beautiful flat screen display. Now the display has become the computer, held by an elegant stand that also functions as an arm. Notice a trend? Everything revolves around the display.

The new iMac is a perfect machine for someone who wants it all, a computer and a display. But a lot of us have old monitors around and, believe it or not, are not obsessed with the clever integration of CPU and flat screen. For too long now Apple has not provided consumers with a computer without a display. For someone who wants to surf the web, check email, and organize his or her photos a G5 desktop is overkill. And for that same person who could be switching from a PC they probably just want a CPU to plug their current monitor into. Paying a premium for a flat-screen monitor with the CPU (albeit cleverly) integrated into a flat screen is money wasted.

I don't mean to put a damper on the wonderful new iMac which, on screen anyway, looks like a winner. But Apple needs to look far back to the tradition of the Performa line. They were great machines that offered a slightly stripped down version of their more powerful cousins. And they didn't come with a monitor.

Would you like a low-end Mac CPU with no monitor or is the iMac perfect as is?


2004-08-31 06:43:56
CPU w/o a monitor
Actually, I'd be quite happy to get rid of that bulky 17" Philips Brilliance that sits on my desk now. I agree that there may be very little reason for an average consumer to be dumping *both* a CPU and a monitor, but that'll likely to dampen the overall experience, wouldn't you agree?
2004-08-31 08:11:52
All things?
Apple isn't trying to be all things to all people. As long as the iMac is selling well and making good money for Apple, I doubt we'll see a low-end monitor-less Mac.

Personally, I've loved the iMac lines. I used one as a primary programming machine for a year, and while I now own a dual 1.8 G5, I still have my old iMac for my kids. They're just too nice a form-factor.

The new one almost reminds me, in a weird way, of the original Apple 2 or TRS-80, where the computer was entirely in the keyboard, and you hooked up a monitor. Now, you do the opposite. I said it was a weird way. :-)

2004-08-31 08:52:50
What's your point?
I can understand your desire for a box to plug into your old monitor (well, actually, I can't, but for the sake of argument, I'll say I can). But how is that in anyway connected to the unveiling of the iMac? Your insta-review says (I paraphrase), "great design, cool computer but what about my need for a cpu for a clunking old monitor I have. And, wait a minute, I bet there are other people out there who are going to purchase a PC if they don't have the cpu I'm talking about."

I must admit, however, I felt the same way when the iPod Mini was unveiled. Great toy, but why would I want one of those when I can, for $50 more, purchase a real iPod. Didn't realize the two have little to do with one another.

Admit it. What you really want is the return of the cube.

2004-08-31 09:53:47
*We* are not the target market
*We*, meaning nearly anyone who has registered at O'Reilly.

I agree with you. I would like to see a low-cost, display-less Mac. I have been using the same 17" display for about three different CPUs, both Mac and Wintel, for about eight years now.

Anyway, do a poll of the target audience, parents, grandparents and friends who are not technically savvy. I have, and what I have found is that nearly every single time this group buys a new computer--mostly not Macs--they buy a new display as well.

Again, I would like personally for Apple to have a lower-cost, display-less CPU, but I don't think they are all that much hurt in the marketplace by not having one.

2004-08-31 10:02:02
The new iMac
Think it over dude : Apple already sells "personnel super computers with no display". It's called the G5. If you want one, just go and get one.

This new iMac is the best iMac we've ever seen. Have you noticed the integrated modem cable? A perfect entry machine, and it fits the iMac concept of an "All in one" design (what the Macintosh was in the old days). So in a sense, I think your comment is out of topic here. This iMac is great.

I suspect that there is an excellent idea for their conception/production line here. This new desktop looks like a laptop design, slipped behind a flat screen ( So watch the new G5 laptop, they could be coming soon.)

I once had a PowerMac with a separate display. I thought I could sell the computer and keep the display. I also believed that it would be cheaper to upgrade the computer instead of changing it all. I proved to be wrong in both cases. I replaced it with a flat screen iMac, the best personnel computer I ever had or even dreamt of.

2004-08-31 10:44:30
What's your point?
"Admit it. What you really want is the return of the cube."

Would that be so bad? I think the Cube would have sold a lot better with Mac OS X installed on it instead of Mac OS 9. Now that Apple uses DVI for their displays, the Cube is an even better idea.

2004-08-31 12:36:25
New iMac
I have to disagree with the author here as well. I think the new all-in-one iMac is great along with the other iMacs from the last 5-6 years. I can't wait to get one. I have an old Performa gathering dust in the basement now as we use out 2 "vintage" iMacs every day. The less footprint the better for us.
2004-08-31 16:09:36
Old Monitors are overrated.
I have a sweet 17" CRT monitor which served me well for several years and still is in good condition. Yet, when it was time to upgrade my computer (2 years ago), I went with the flatpanel iMac because of its small footprint and despite it's relative lack of CPU power.

Then, last christmas, I treated myself to a gaming PC, and a 19" CRT to go with it, because my old 17" could really display the resolutions I want to play in (ok, and an extra desk to hold all the assorted clutter).

So - two new computers within two years, and for neither I did re-use my old monitor. However, I did get to re-use my optical five-button mouse on the iMac...

2004-08-31 16:11:30
Re: Old Monitors are overrated.
Grr - of course I meant that my 17" could not display the resolutions I prefer.
2004-08-31 17:14:46
iMac G5 ... overkill?

"For someone who wants to surf the web, check email, and organize his or her photos a G5 desktop is overkill" ... mmh, I think a G5 is the exact processor you'd want to play with the iLife softwares. If you have lots of pictures or like to make little movies with your DV and creating DVDs, you'll definitely enjoy a G5.
And seriously, between having a huge 17'' CRT display (collecting dust, creating lots of heat and taking most of my desk's space) + a unit somewhere else (meaning cables everywhere as well) or an all-in-one on my desk which is actually *design* too ... I don't know, to me it's a no brainer.
To me, Apple's HW is the only one I can and enjoy seeing in living areas of a home. It's classic and clean design which makes it a piece you actually want to see and show off almost. (how many people were keeping their cube on their desk vs how many people keep their PC tower on their desk).
but then again, this is all personal test.

2004-09-01 06:01:35
Not to belabor the obvious
Apple has had machines with the monitor integrated since, oh, about 1984. They reintroduced the concept in 1998 and blew away the entire industry with the success. They currently have two desktop models that have an integrated monitor, and one with out. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they know their target audience and are doing fairly well with this approach.
2004-09-01 11:15:25
Junk your old monitors
Frankly, if you've got an old CRT sitting around, WHY are you dying to use it?

Unless you are a high-end graphic designer - and if you are, a low-end Mac is NOT what you are going to buy - I can't see any reason for continuing to use a CRT. They're heavy, they take up way too much desk space, they flood your face with radiation, they heat up your room, and they suck electricity like nothing else in your house except your fridge.

I have people tell me that flat screens just aren't good enough for gaming and video, and I tell them "bubkus!". I've had a Sony 19" LCD monitor for three years now, and I use it to play 3D shooters like Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It also plays DVDs very nicely.

If a 3-year old LCD can do that, I have to believe the currently available models are satisfactory.

Then don't forget the environmental issue. Granted, LCD monitors still contain heavy metals and other toxic ingredients. But compared to the heavy metals in the phospor tube of a CRT, an LCD is a nice green monitor.