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Reviewing the Reviewers: iMac Core Duo


I did a review for Cinematical once, where I reviewed other people's reviews of a particular movie, comparing and contrasting with my own impressions; since the folks over at MacInTouch did some great groundwork on testing and reviewing the new iMac Core Duo, I thought I'd review their review, providing you with a slightly less polished, real world set of impressions on the different bits they cover without rehashing too much of what I've said before. So consider this post a companion post to theirs, a Mac-Internet group hug with the new iMac Core Duo in the middle, if you will. You'll find all the nitty gritty bits after the jump...

MacInTouch compares the transition from software geared for PPC chips to software geared for Intel Core Duo chips to the original code shift from OS 9 to OS X, and although it is an easy comparison that I've seen made across the Internet, and one that I myself made before making the switch to a Core Duo iMac, I don't think it is one we should be making. Sure, just like with that shift there are peripherals that lack Intel-based drivers and certain pieces of software that will not run in Rosetta, but this transition has been so completely painless in comparison with the OS 9 to OS X migration that it's really like comparing apples and oranges. Rosetta, unlike Classic, runs seamlessly within the OS. There is no need to boot or launch Rosetta. Programs running in Rosetta either work or they don't. I haven't encountered any programs that work in Rosetta, but crash all the time. It is all very stable. Also, everything that runs native on the Core Duo, including the OS itself and all the Universal Binary apps, run very fast and very stable. That's light years of difference from the instability of OS X 10.0 that had many users screaming to return to OS 9. Several people are complaining about lack of Classic support, but come on. It's 2006. If you're still running some old Classic app that is vital to your day to day, it is *really* time for you to re-evaluate your day to day.

Another note of complaint in the MacInTouch review is the lack of an AppleWorks or other bundled word processor. It comes with an iWork demo. I don't see the big deal here either. I mean, if you're not running Microsoft Office and AppleWorks was good enough for you, then TextEdit should be fine and if not that, simply install X11 and Open Office. Works like a charm.

They also note that people using Photoshop for high-end production work should stick with their G5s. I agree, but I would add the note that if you're currently on a G3 or G4 with your Photoshop, then Photoshop in Rosetta on the Core Duo is going to be just about the same. Might as well go ahead and upgrade to the Intel-based Mac, keep working at the speed you're accustomed to, and then buy CS3 when Adobe releases it and benefit from the tremendous speed and performance boost then, rather than being trapped in G5 land.

The World of Warcraft Universal Binary has convinced me that gaming is great on the Intel Mac. Period. I cannot wait until they come out with more native games for this architecture.

Booting the same hard drive between Intel and PPC processors is not working except supposedly in dual-partitioned scenarios. This is another "Who cares?" point for me. I mean, I can see certain advantages to it, but for the most part, I'm left raising my eyebrow at this just like I raised my eyebrow at all the people who still boot into OS 9 every once in a while. Why? It's so insanely slower, I fail to understand the desire. If I want to use a PPC I grab my wife's 12-inch PowerBook. If I want to work fast, I use my iMac. Although there are certain occasions where it might be cool to boot these two machines off of the same drive, it's such a small percentage that I fail to see how this gripe doesn't self-destruct. I mean, you can still use Migration Assistant (located in /Applications/Utilities/) to transfer files, folders, and even applications from your old PPC computer to your new Intel-based one. No need to boot off the disk to do that.

Hardware-wise, I have no means of comparison between the sound and heat levels of the iMac G5 and the iMac Core Duo, as I've never had a G5 iMac, but it runs entirely silent as far as I can tell and as for heat... it doesn't come close to the heat kicked off by any of my PowerBooks.

My only other notes of difference from the MacInTouch review have to do with the monitor-spanning capabilities of the device. The iMac's video card may not be able to support the 30-inch Apple display, but it supports my 24-inch Dell monitor easily. I have the screen set to be my main display with windows spanned across the two displays. I can run WoW, Front Row, and QuickTime fullscreen off of the external Dell display (although for some reason QuickTime always wants to default to the iMac's screen and I have to manually select the Dell screen each time I use it).

Overall, and especially for the price, the 17-inch Core Duo iMac is a great machine (and I'm glad I didn't go with the 20-inch considering all the bugs I've heard coming from that line) that I would highly recommend to anyone with some money to burn. I give it 9.2 out of 10 fuzzy wombats with Apple-logos burned into their sides.

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