Moving to Intel processors was never going to be easy for Apple. Not only does it have to placate fanatics who consider Windows-friendly Intel the enemy, it also has to rewrite all existing software for the new chips. And then get third-party developers to do the same.
But there are some benefits of leaving the PowerPC chips behind – Apple claims the Intel iMac runs at up to three times the speed of the G5 model. We compared the 20in, 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo iMac with a year-old 1.8Ghz G5 iMac and found that Apple’s benchmarks were optimistic. Nonethless, startup was twice as fast on the new iMac, and the iLife applications (iTunes, iPhoto and the like) ran between 25 and 100% faster.
Problems begin when you use non-Apple software. Adobe Photoshop ran noticeably slower on the new iMac because it hasn’t been rewritten for Intel. The half-speed performance makes little difference for home use, but could be a serious issue if you use such software professionally.
The new iMac is remarkably lounge-frinedly, thanks to a host of wireless options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IR), super-quiet operation, optical output for surround sound and a mini DVI video connection that allows you to mirror the iMac’s screen or use your TV as a separate monitor – so you can watch a DVD and browse the web simultaneously.
As well as mouse and keyboard, Apple has also included iPod Shuffle-style remote control, which magnetically clings to the side of the iMac. Thanks to Front Row’s sofa-friendly interface, you can control iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and the DVD player from up to 30ft away. Which makes it all the more shameful that the iMac doesn’t have a TV tuner. We used an Elgato EyeTV USB plug-in, which worked well, but isn’t compatible with Front Row.
Click here for part two of our review