The G5 iMac | October 4, 2004
When the G5 iMac was launched I have to admit that I was less than impessed. While the specs were great, I just wasn't taken by the design. To me the G4 iMac was revolutionary. It's a beautiful piece of equipment that looks great in any home. In fact It's probably the nicest looking thing I own and still gets people talking when they come round to visit. By comparison then G5 iMac looked fairly plain and awkwardly proportioned.
One thing I love about the G4 iMac is it's ergonomic design and the fact that you can move the screen into pretty much any position you want. Apparently Apple did some research and found that people never really adjusted the height of the screen, so I guess that I must be one of the odd ones out. I share my iMac with my girlfriend and while I like to have the screen up at eye level, she usually has it lower and tilted up (I find this gives me neck ache). Also we'd occasionally watch a DVD on the iMac in which case we'd lower the screen completely so it was closer to our sitting height. This was one of the coolest features of the G4 iMac and one reason why the G5 felt like a step back.
However I thought it was best to reserve final judgement till I saw one in person. When the iPod mini was launched I also wasn't impressed by the design. The images on the apple store made them look a little cheap and garish, yet in real life they were actually pretty cool. So despite moving flats over the weekend (remind me not to buy any more stuff), I took half an hour out to check out the new iMac at my local Mac dealer.
My first impressions were a lot more positive than I'd expected. While the images on the Apple site make the G5 look a little dull and lacklustre, in reality they have quite a nice finish. The large space at the bottom of the screen looks much more prominent on the images than in real life, so the G5 iMac doesn't look as out of proportions as I was expecting. So while not as attractive as the G4 iMac, the G5 isn't as ugly as I thought it was going to be and could possibly even grow on me.
The machine was easy to swivel on it's base and the tilt range was pretty good, just no where near as nice as the G4 iMac. The pics made the stand look a little unstable which was confirmed by "bump testing" the table at the shop. I could quite easily see the whole thing coming crashing to the ground if you accidentally knock the table it's on a little too hard. I had a play with Photoshop, running through some actions. I have to admit that I'd expected blisteringly fast results, so as a little disappointed as the speed. However this could have been a memory thing (256MB is far to little memory for even a consumer computer these days). They didn't have Halo installed but Nanosaur 2 ran pretty smoothly. Just a shame you can't change the graphics card yourself or even get a better one as a built-to-order option. As such while the G5 iMac will be fine for the current slew of Mac games, It probably won't do so well with the next generation of games.
So on the whole I was pleasantly surprised. While I love my ageing G4 iMac, it just doesn't have the power or storage I need, so I think upgrading to a new G5 may be on the cards. You do get quite a bit of bang for your buck, but it's still gonna set me back over £1,500 for the 20-inch model with a bit of extra RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth and a wireless keyboard. That's quite a lot to spend on a home computer, especially as my G4 is only a few years old. I guess I better start saving.
Posted at October 4, 2004 12:35 PM