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Meet the New Macintosh

3 minute read
Josh Quittner

If you thought the original iMac looked cool when it was introduced last fall, wait until you see version 2. Nothing I’ve had in my office during the past few years–from the self-feeding cat orb to the lawnmower-shaped robot–has elicited so many oohs and ahs as the iMac DV Special Edition ($1,499) that now sits on my desk top. Perhaps it’s the classy “graphite” color or the clear plastic casing that lets you ogle its innards. Or maybe it’s that the iMac looks like the slightly upturned nose cone of a space shuttle. With its overhaul of the popular iMac, Apple has again created a masterpiece of design.

But is there enough substance to justify all that style? For the most part, yes. I am generally pleased with the machine and would recommend it for most home users–especially any first-time buyer. The out-of-box experience is simplicity itself, designed to have you up and on the Internet within 10 minutes. Only two components need to be plugged in: the keyboard and the mouse, which slide into ports on the side of the machine rather than the back, which makes them much easier to access. Under the hood, you get terrific value, including 128 megs of RAM, a 13-gig hard drive, a DVD drive (including a complimentary copy of A Bug’s Life) and a superfast graphics card.

On the software side, Apple includes its new iMovie, a consumer-oriented program for editing digital video. You can plug your digital camera right into the iMac, add sound tracks, titles, music and special effects and edit away. Also, starting next week, the machine will ship with Apple’s latest operating system, 9.0, which offers too many new features to list here. My favorite: a speech-pattern security system to keep interlopers off your machine.

So what’s not to like? Apple’s iMac is supposedly so well engineered it doesn’t need a cooling fan, and the silence truly is golden. But run your hand across the top and it feels, well, hot. Apple swears that the heat–the mortal enemy of microcircuitry–won’t fry the computer over time, but it makes me nervous. Also, although the lozenge-shaped mouse has been redesigned somewhat, it’s still way too small and has got to go. Fortunately, you can swap it for something more ergonomic. The only real problem with the Mac, frankly, is finding as much software as you can get for a PC. But if Apple keeps making machines like these–and people keep buying them–that won’t be a problem for long.

–By Joshua Quittner

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