Hands On With New Macs

04Nov09

The other day I went hands on with Apple’s newest Mac line refresh. Some interesting observations are sure to be of interest to potential Mac buyers.

Let’s talk about the new iMacs. The 21 and 27 inchers. The 21″ looks unusually small for a computer that has a 21″ screen. Must be the loss in vertical pixels that creates the illusion of a smaller body. Indeed, the entire computer is now a unibody all aluminum chassis. No more plastic in the back. The black plastic did give the body a “slimming” effect on the old model. The new iMacs look fatter when viewed on the side. The all aluminum back also looks to be much more scratch prone. I often reach to plug a USB or a cable into computers without ever looking at the back, but feeling around for the right port. This is a problem. The “chin” that everyone hated but I thought was fine is now much smaller. For those not in the know, the “chin” is that space below the iMac.

imacchin

Aside form that, the bezel stand is tapered and very svelte. Not a huge upgrade. Comparatively, the 27″ makes the 21″ look so small. The display on the 27″ is gigantic. Perfect for just watching a movie or displaying two web pages simultaneously. I was getting nauseous just standing in front of it. Be sure to sit a good distance away from the 27″ or you might get sick.

Another deal breaker for the iMacs is again, lack of HDMI in/out and no Blu-Ray. I haven’t bought into the entire Blu-Ray replacing my DVDs yet, but that is because I don’t have the whole HD set-up of TV, surround sound, and Blu-Ray Player/PS3. Since Apple is touting full HD resolutions and switching to 16:9 aspect ratio, you would think they’d put some BR and HDMI in right? Not this time around, maybe next year…

Next up is the new unibody plastic MacBook. There isn’t really much to say about this one. This thing does not look good in person at all. It gets dirty easily. The bezel around the LCD looks awful, very cheap feel. Dust and any little bit of dirt is visible without the slightest glance. It’s gross. The rubberized grip on the bottom of the MacBook wears out and like the rest of the MacBook, gets dirty really fast. Ive never had any problem with the grip on my plastic MacBook. Don’t even know what Apple was thinking on this one. Just another afterthought thrown in to make it seem as if its a “feature.”

How can I forget about the fact that the MB is all glossy plastic due to design? Scratch magnet. The matte on the interior of the previous generation MBs is still loads better than this. The loss of the infra-red for access to the Apple remote is a real downer.

A real annoyance that I have had with Apple’s entire unibody all-glass screens are the brightness levels. To put it bluntly: they SUCK. All of them. The only way to see anything on the reflective screens is to crank the brightness level up to the highest, something they are set to default at the Apple Store. I almost never set my brightness levels that high. It’s sitting at half full brightness 90% of the time. Not only is it better for my battery, but its also easier on the eyes. Crank the brightness down to half on the glass Macs and its pretty dim. I won’t buy a new Mac because of this. Apple needs to get this fixed. None of the Apple “geniuses” at the Apple Store noticed this, so I can only assume they are all idiots who don’t know anything.

If I was looking for a plastic MacBook, I’d go and buy an old model. They are sturdier and built to last, compared to Apple’s latest, which don’t amaze. Not worth it. Save another $200 and spring for the 13″ MacBook Pro. It’s just a better deal. $200 for an SD card, better screen gamut, and backlit keyboard, and all aluminum body looks sweeter.

At last we come to the Magic Mouse. This is one beautiful mouse. Really. It is rather flat when you wrap your palm around it. The scrolling works smooth, although there are hiccups that need to get ironed out. The swiping left and right to go back and forward between pages doesn’t feel too great though. You have to use your thumb to grip one side of the mouse and then use your index and pointer to swipe. Takes a little while to get used to. For $70, it’s not worth it. If you want to pay for design, and you got money to burn, then go for it. Better than the Mighty Mouse? Absolutely.

All in all, Apple’s newest hardware is a bit underwhelming. They claim that the build materials are better than ever, but I can’t find much reason to justify purchasing any of them. The 27″ iMac would be a great HDTV, but it doesn’t have built in TV features. $2000 for a 27″ HDTV/computer is not something I want to pay for. I would much rather get a 40″ LCD for much under $1500 and connect a Mac to it.

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