27" Apple iMac The new quad-core 27″ iMac certainly sounds (and looks) amazing. I’ve been debating heavily whether I should get one because I am doing a lot more with photos and realizing how inaccurate my current laptop’s screen and my desktop’s two 19″ screens are. I use a 24″ iMac at work, and it’s definitely a good machine, so I was pretty excited reading about the 27″ version.

Unfortunately, I found out a few issues that have convinced me to hold off. The biggest issue is that Apple seems to cover their products in a ridiculous gloss coating. It looks great until you realize your monitor is behaving more like a mirror than like a screen. I had that issue with my previous laptop, feeling excited about how amazing the screen looked until I tried using it with a decent amount of natural light. Clearly, many of the expected users are going to be photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and others who need excellent color quality and thus prefer natural light. I see this problem on the 24″ iMac I use at work, and reviews suggest it is even worse on the 27″ version. This reason alone makes me hesitate.

iMac or mirror, you decide

iMac or mirror, you decide

The next big issue is price. You have to expect to pay a premium for an Apple product; they’re in the business of selling hardware. However, you also pay more for the product to be an all-in-one solution (i.e., the hardware components reside in the screen). This is really great and leaves your computer setup very clean, but it’s not one of my reasons for wanting the computer, so I would be paying more for something I don’t care a whole lot about, and that always gets me looking at how ridiculous of a system I could build. Apple needs to make a system between the Mini and the Mac Pro and then let me buy it with a 27″ monitor (or two).

I also dislike the way Apple leaves out some specs on their site. How good is the webcam? What’s the contrast ratio? How fast is the refresh rate? Does it smell like a green apple or a red one? Some questions are clearly more important than others, but the tech specs page ought to give me all the details I want, and it doesn’t.

And why does it not have some of the basic ports that are common on crappy $300 systems? For instance, there’s no external SATA port, so my 1tb external SATA drive that I use for backing up my laptop and desktop becomes a lot less useful (though at least my laptop has an e-SATA port… and an HDMI port for that matter). Every non-Apple computer I’ve seen in the past 5-10 years has had an all-in-one card reader, but Apple’s iMac is just now coming with a single SD card slot. Sure, I can connect an external card reader that costs $10 and can read a billion different types of memory cards, but why should I have to do that on a computer that seems designed for people who will be using various types of memory cards from their electronic equipment?

You can’t even get this with a BluRay drive. I guess Apple’s desire to make you use iTunes is stronger than the logic of including a good optical drive in a computer that would clearly make a good entertainment machine.

iMac Keyboard

iMac Keyboard

And the thing that really gets me is the keyboard. WTF, mate? Seriously, I think they purposely try to hide the full-size shots of it so you don’t realize they took the regular keyboard and chopped off everything to the right of the return key (yes, the home, end, page up, etc. keys are gone). Then they squished the arrow keys into the space where the right control key was. A crappy keyboard for such a nice system… how terrible.

Maybe I’ll get one at some point, but these issues are definitely significant enough to keep me from buying one now. I can build an incredibly nice system for the cost of the iMac….