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Apple iMac 20-in G4 1.25Ghz Review
by Chuck Brown, Assoc. Editor - Reviews
July 12, 2004

Its big, its small, its unique, its expensive and we all just heard on July 1st that it’s not available anymore. An all-new iMac, Apple announced, would be available after a small snafu (Apples admission) in planning, some time in September 2004.

Originally the nice folks at Apple Media Relations loaned us the top of the line 20-inch G4 1.25Ghz iMac as a test bed for our upcoming “Wireless I/O Devices for Mac and PC” review article. Along with the iMac came Apples wireless Bluetooth Mouse and Pro Keyboard to compare with the standard wired Apple Pro Keyboard and Mouse.

Since we had missed the opportunity to review the 20-inch iMac when it was introduced, we thought a better late than later story with a twist would be nice. The twist would be, could a potential G4 or G5 PowerMac buyer be happy with this iMac.

Well even with the premature announcement that a new replacement for this versions packaging was on its way, we still feel that the concept might still apply to the “replacement iMac”. The marketing people have admitted to the media that the new iMac will be a G5; likely single processor based since cooling the IBM PPC-970 is a big problem, hence the reason the G5 hasn’t shown up in a PowerBook. We hope that the iMac will remain a small footprint, our guess is an all aluminum LCD / Processor enclosure in-one concept.

But rather than delving into the minutia of specification analysis, which has been covered already in other reviews, we are only going to look at usability. No benchmarks, no gaming, just good old street applications.

We loaded up the iMac with applications that generally only “power users” would use for content, graphics, video, audio and web development. Pro Tools for audio creation and mixing, Macromedia Creative Suite MX 2004 for web development, Adobe Creative Suite for Graphics and Publishing and AVID Xpress Pro for NLE Video were installed, along with Microsoft’s Office X and File Maker Pro for general office applications.

As we always do in all of our reviews, a panel of professionals from segments of industry that would normally use this type of hardware and software were enlisted to test this iMacs capability for the story.

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But First these Observations-
We would be remiss if we didn’t make some observations about the equipment and software that the Apple 20-inch G4 1.25Ghz iMac is. After all, we pay our Tech Lab engineers to have an opinion.
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"...Apple performed a miracle stuffing so much computing hardware into this small of an enclosure.."
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The Apple 20-inch G4 1.25Ghz iMac (M9290LL/A) is an impressive computer, no matter what your feelings are about its rather unorthodox packaging. Most of us here have never been fans of the ‘70s retro lamp base look; rather wishing it had been an amalgamation of the trendy G4 Cube and this gorgeous iMac display with the ingenious chromed “arm”. One drawback of this half-a-snowball shape is that doors, like on the DVD/CDRW drive tray, don’t match and close perfectly against the rounded surface as ours test sample doesn’t.

  

Never the less, Apple performed a miracle stuffing so much computing hardware into this small of an enclosure and keeping it pretty cool inside. It helps that the later Motorola G4 processors run reasonably cool, especially compared to the IBM PPC-970 (G5) processors.

        
Everything you need as far is fairly advanced hardware for video graphics display, burning and sound are all in this Mac. But the only thing you can easily upgrade is the DDR RAM and perhaps a bigger Hard Drive. That may be an important limitation to some who need to have a system grow with needs and age.

   All the I/O ports you'll probably ever need.



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