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In case you'd missed any of Apple's advertising for this year's range of iMacs, they're very thin. Apple go on (and on and on) about thinness like an anorexic teenager but surely the one aspect of your desktop computer you rarely see is the side, so who really cares? Will the next iMac have edges so thin that your fingertips get sliced off when you pick it up? Of course it's an illusion really and when you look round the back there's a big bulge where Apple hid all the bits - or maybe your iMac's just very pleased to see you?

WHAT YOU GET: The two 21.5" iMacs come in a new near-seamless aluminium body and with a new laminated display that, although it's technically no better than the last iMac's, looks noticeably better with much less reflection - it has a slight shadowing in the corners but otherwise it's brilliant. The onboard speakers aren't bad at all but do have a muffled, tubular sound - probably because they're mounted in the middle of the computer (to achieve that obssessive thinness) and ported to the bottom edge. The iMac is lighter than before but still feels solid and exceptionally well-made. The FaceTime HD camera (720p) delivers better than average results, especially in low-light. The discrete graphics cards won't satisfy hardcore gamers but are actually quite capable and should run any current game - although you might have to avoid the highest quality graphics settings to get the smoothest framerate.

This standard pack also includes a wireless Bluetooth keyboard (with no numeric keypad) and Apple's Magic Mouse, which puts a touch-sensitive top surface (for touch gesture controls) on a wireless mouse. Round the back are an audio-out port (for both analogue and optical digital outputs, including an iPhone headset), four USB-3 ports (compatible with USB-2 devices), an SDXC card slot, a Gigabit Ethernet port for networking and two Thunderbolt ports. The Thunderbolt ports are incredibly fast and capable but are next to useless right now as only a few Thunderbolt devices are available and they're still expensive - this should change over the next year or so as Thunderbolt (which was mainly developed by Intel) finds its way into PC's too. The Thunderbolt ports also work as Mini DisplayPorts too, meaning you can use them to connect an external display or TV although you'll need the appropriate adapter. If you choose the more expensive 21.5" iMac you get a slightly faster processor and a slightly better graphics card. These iMacs come with OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion installed and you're stuck with it, you can't (easily) back-grade them to run earlier versions of OSX - some long-term Mac users might find a few of the dumbed-down 'features' in Mountain Lion a bit frustrating.

WHAT YOU DON'T GET: Did I mention these things are thin? To satisfy their current tech dysmorphic disorder Apple threw out everything they decided you don't need anymore - most obviously the optical drive has gone. If like me, you have a collection of software, music and movies on disc you might like to install, play or watch on your new iMac then Apple would apparently prefer if you buy or rent them all again from the iTunes Store, where they get a cut of the profits. They'd also like developers to offer app's only through the Mac App Store, where they get a cut of the profits. If you really insist on using optical discs then they'd like you to do it on an overpriced Apple USB SuperDrive, where they get all the profits. Spotting a theme yet? It's certainly true that optical media is on its way out (sales dropped 17% this year) but it hasn't quite gone yet - it's still 75% of the consumer spend on music and entertainment content. On mobile computers the decision to drop optical drives makes much more sense, but on their flagship consumer desktop Apple's choice just seems premature and self-serving. Nice attitude, Apple.

Also, you don't get a 'desktop-speed' 7200rpm hard-drive, you get a 5400rpm one, although it's a reasonably speedy-ish one. You don't get any FireWire ports, so if you have any legacy FireWire peripherals you'll have to buy a Thunderbolt/FireWire Adapter to continue using them. You don't get an inbuilt infrared receiver anymore so existing Apple Remotes won't be recognised. You don't get any after-sale upgrade options at all, you can't even increase the memory, although the standard 8GB is plenty for most people. BTW, the only way into the iMac is through the glued-on display glass - so good luck with that...

To be fair, everything Apple have included in these iMac's is good or great quality, it's beautifully designed and made, it's fitted with a superb low-reflection display and all of it works together seamlessly as you'd expect from Apple. If you're a new or relatively un-demanding computer-user this is probably a 5-star desktop - it should do everything you need, it's fast, stable and very quiet and Apple are banking on the notion that you won't miss what you've never had. For some more experienced users there will be a few frustrations and this is a Mac defined as much by what it leaves out as by what it includes.

PS: I picked up an external optical drive to use with this Mac and went for a Liteon ETAU108-02 Top-Load External DVDRW which is a third of the price of Apple's SuperDrive and, so far, is working perfectly.
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on 20 May 2013
I personally took a bit of a gamble in buying this computer and I definitely think it was worth it. I originally planned to buy a MacBook Pro but after seeing this model in a local shop I was sold. My main reason was that for similar pricing you can get a higher spec and an aesthetically sharper machine.
I have never owned a Mac before so I did encountered a few teething issues but on the whole it is very simple to set up.
The screen is excellent and it can be viewed from almost any angle without reflection.
The inbuilt speakers are also surprisingly good. They don't have great bass but they can play much louder than I expected without a loss in quality.
There are several reviews really slating this computer for its lack of an optical drive and I was originally sceptical about buying this model for this reason. I have however had my computer for nearly a week and not once have I needed a CD drive to set up the computer or move all my files onto it.
I will likely shell out for a cheap external drive as you can pick these up for £25 but I can't really think when it will be used unless I buy physical CDs rather than downloads from iTunes or Amazon.
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on 23 January 2013
Am I the only Apple customer annoyed and insulted by Apple's decision (amongst other things) not to include a CD / DVD drive on the new iMac?

It is a desktop computer. What does it matter if it is thinner than the previous iMac? Who cares if it's "5mm thin"?

It is a classic example of form over function. So long as it is thinner than the stand it sits on it makes no practical difference if it is thinner than before.

What does make a differrence however is how it works, what jobs it is capable of doing and how easy it is for those jobs to be done.

Without a CD / DVD drive a number of jobs / tasks are no longer possible on this machine.

It's obvious but...

You can no longer import your CDs into itunes.

You can't install your software CDs or DVDs onto the computer.

You can't watch DVDs on it.

You can't burn CDs or DVDs for playlists, back ups of data / photos / home movies etc

What I find insulting is that Apple use the excuse of disregarding the DVD/CD drive in an attempt to make the iMac (pointlessly) thin.

This isn't the real reason. Surely the real reason is so that you can no longer import CDs and DVDs, so as a result people will be forced to buy all their music and movies etc through iTunes, and software through the app store.

It is simply a money making exercise. Apple are deliberatley inconveniencing their customers in an attempt to force them to spend more of their money through iTunes rather than buy the cheaper, better quality and often preferable CDs and DVDs.

What is more insulting (and deliberately rude) is Phil Shiller's remark that people wanting the option to have a CD / DVD drive on their iMac are "stuck in the past".

I'm not stuck in the past. I'm a professional photographer whose clients often require images on DVDs. The clients are not stuck in the past either. They are at the cutting edge of fashion, design and advertising.

To say DVDs and CDs are out of date technology is simply untrue. Whilst it may be the case for some, for the vast majority of the Earth's population they are very current technology.

75% of all music and movies are still bought on CD and DVD. Apple might not like that, but it's true.

Most people also have collections of music and movies that they would like to be able to import onto their new iMac.

Apple used to be about building machines that suited the needs of creative professionals. It seems these days are over.

Apple now thinks it is acceptable to insult these customers by pretending that it is more important to have a "5mm thin" computer (at the edges only) than have a CD/ DVD reader / writer.

But this is far from the only appalling design decision Apple made regarding this iMac.

They also chose to have all the USB and Thunderbolt ports out of reach on the back of the machine.

They have abandoned their firewire support completely, leaving everyone with firewire connected external hard drives etc in a situation where they have to buy ridiculously overpriced adaptors in order to use them on these machines.

They also located the DS card slot along side the USB ports on the back of the iMac (the most inconvenient and annoying place possible on the iMac).

Along with the speaker, now facing backwards and away from the computer's user making the sound terrible. How can that possibly be a good idea?

My gripe isn't about money or the cost of an external drive.

I know I can buy an external DVD drive, and I have, but not an Apple one, a Samsung blu-ray writer. But what is the point of having a thin computer when you then have to have a drive sitting next to it using up a USB port?

Apple should not be allowed to get away with these underhand and insulting tactics and remarks.

I've been a loyal Apple customer for twenty years and have a huge amount of Apple computers, ipads, iphones etc. But I'm unhappy with their new direction.

Apple succeeded in becoming as big as they are today because customers like me bought their machines because we wanted something better to use for our work than the technology provided by the PC market.

A good looking machine is fine, but not when it comes at the price of practicality and functionality.

It's time they stop treating their customers this way and give us what we want and need, and not just what they want us to have.

This isn't the Apple that Steve Jobs created, and this company isn't infallible, it is losing it's direction and it's integrity.

If they don't want to continue to lose the support of a growing number of disgruntled customers Apple need to have a word with themselves.
1010 comments|86 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 December 2013
I ordered off the spec on the Amazon site, unfortunately the acknowledgement was slightly different from what I ordered. The acknowledgement stated WIRED KEYBOARD AND MOUSE !
But I did not read the detail of the acknowledgement, and when the IMac arrived it it had a wired keyboard and mouse. I entered dialogue with the supplier, but they stated what was on their acknowledgement, but the eventually offered an exchange for what i wanted for an additional £60.
I then raised a dispute with Amazon, who quickly rectified the problem, with no additional cost.
Well done Amazon for assisting with the problem, top marks, and thank you.
Philip C Rolfe
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on 3 February 2013
Firstly let me say I am a big apple consumer. I have the phone, the Pad, 3 x Apple TV's, a classic,touch and shuffle and finally a 21.5" IMac with a 2tb FireWire disk array for external storage and backup and a second failsafe external back up drive. So a fair amount of Apple kit and it has never put a foot wrong. The trouble is with all the demands being placed on the iMac as the media hub and kids video editor it was running out of steam so I have been desperate for the new iMac. What a crushing blow.
No DVD ???? How am I supposed to create DVDs to send to the family of the granchilds latest adventures?
How am I supposed to get a copy of my DVDs into the media Center that is iTunes? Oh I know they want me to buy even more equipment and try and get me to buy a download of a second copy from the iTunes store.
Oh and how can I use my existing equipment. Guess what. Buy ANOTHER adaptor.
Oh and what if I want to increase memory? I can't I have to predict what I need and buy up front at a price that makes the eyes water.
Load all my software that I have already purchased on CD? Nope.
What to load photos? I have to scrabble down the back for the Sd socket.
But I get a thin screen that looks pregnant at the rear. Don't let the photos fool you it's only thin at the edge.
I welcome being locked in to an environment that means I don't fight with my computers, but the latest releases of OS and OSX are really making me think what the hell am I doing. Why don't I switch back to windows and not feel I am having every penny drained out my pocket. I am so disappointed with this iteration.
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on 20 May 2013
Arrived within the time scale expected.

About as near plug and play as you can get, super keyboard and magic mouse.

The computer just works. Synced with iTunes no problem and also with my MacBook PRO.

ADDITION.

Now I have had the machine a week and I love it, rock stable, I use it with Dreamweaver CS6 and it blows away my Windows machines. So much so that I am now have a Windows free office.
I have disposed of the Windows Laptop and the Desktop. The iMac and the MacBook PRO I bought are so much better for the tasks I need them for.

The display is superb and excellent when used with Photoshop Elements 11 for picture editing. I bought the 21.5" model because the 27" would have been a bit big for where it's located in the home office.

Use Microsoft Office for the Mac, simply because am used to Word and it all performs flawlessly. The keyboard is excellent, better than the Logitech ones I have used in the past and I consider those excellent.
Magic mouse once mastered is a dream to use.

People have commented on the lack of a CD/DVD drive, I chose to buy the Apple USB external CD/DVD drive and it works a treat.

Worth every penny.
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on 13 February 2013
Having used a MacBook for a couple of years, this is my first desktop Mac and I'm not disappointed. Ok, fair enough, you don't get a built-in optical drive & no IR for a remote. I was a little disappointed over this. On the plus side, you get a decent, well built desktop computer, which is blatantly going to last you longer than Windows based machines, which are destined to fail & devalue very quickly - both in terms of software & build quality. Yes, Macs are expensive - but it's because you get a superbly well engineered computer, a solid and reliable software platform, & before you shell out your 1000-odd £££'s for a new computer - well, perhaps you should have read the small print before complaining about what you didn't get in the first place!

OSX is great, runs like a dream and doesn't crash all the time like Windows. It's based on a UNIX system, so solid reliability & straightforward usability is guaranteed. I'd had several Windows based laptops before getting my first Mac & the one big difference I noticed was that my MacBook NEVER crashed, generally swallowing up my work in the process! Yes, it is slimline which is nice aesthetically and also practical if space is an issue. The display in amazing and for watching videos etc (yes, I shelled out for the external DVD drive) way better than even the best flat screens of equivalent screen size. Also, for playing music (no, you don't have to download from iTunes - I only buy CDs and load them onto iTunes via the external optical drive) - the sound is absolutely superb; it's basically a high quality, integrated entertainment system + computer all in one.

if you don't like it, get over it, quit complaining & hand your cash to Microsoft instead!
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on 21 March 2013
the 1st imac i ordered had a defect on the screen and I had it replaced. Amazon has been super responsive in the matter and I received a replacement very fast. However, the new computer has a few dents on the back of it and a pretty visible scratch on its arm (right about where the screen pivots). Also, the keypad when used, its the buttons are making a quack noise (imagine a duck quacking a lot!). This should be on the negative side.
On the bright side, I can say that it's a super fast piece of machine and I, as a Windows user had no issues working on it (even if it was my very 1st time using an Apple computer). I love how easy is to work with it and how fast it converts the video files I need (doing some editing work myself).And 5 stars for the mouse!
The major minus though would be the lack of the optic drive but I can def live without it for now.
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on 8 February 2013
Much better than the older models. better sensor, better sound, thinner, lighter. generally 8/10. you have to remember that the card present in this model is much better than the model MD093.
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on 23 July 2014
After decades of using computers and plagued by 'unwanted objects', I decided to go for the Mac. I tried it maybe a dozen times, but it's hard work for me.
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