Why tinker with something that is perfect? While that's a valid question for Apple, the new 21.5-inch iMac with 4k Retina display is stunning. It has a sleek aluminium unibody, which is 5.5-mm thick at the edges leading to a deeper cavity at the centre where all the hardware components are placed. The power button is still at the bottom left of the rear; there are four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C) ports, a headphone port, an SD card slot and a gigabit Ethernet port also at the rear (bottom right). Although high on aesthetics, the accessibility of the connectivity ports has been compromised.
The device's 4,096x2,304 resolution with 500 nits brightness makes everything look as close to reality as is possible. By default, the automatic brightness has been turned on for the display settings and 4k resolution can be selected from the system preferences. Apple claims that the new iMac is 43 per cent brighter than the previous models. It comes with a sleek keyboard (the Magic keyboard), which is comfortable to type on, and a Magic mouse with multi-touch support that enables switching between running app windows and web pages for the Safari browser.
Our review unit was the top-of-the-line 21.5-inch iMac with 4k Retina display powered by Intel's 7th generation Kaby Lake Core i5 processor with 8 GB of RAM, which can be configured to upto 16 GB or 32 GB. Based on feedback from gamers, Apple has introduced higher power graphic cards - AMD Radeon Pro 560 graphics with 4 GB of VRAM - that offers higher processing power for gaming, 4k video editing and running 3D graphics. The 1-TB Fusion Drive that comes exclusively with this model in the 21.5-inch range is part flash drive and part hard disk drive (HDD). The most frequently used apps and files are automatically stored on the flash drive, while the rest are saved on HDD, reducing the start-up time and making app launches faster. The company promises a speed of up to 40 gbps through the two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
iMacs still run on macOS Sierra. With the Sierra update launched last year, voice assistant Siri was introduced. It does a good job of recognising Indian accents. The Sierra OS enables seamless communication among Apple devices, allowing anyone using an iMac and/or MacBook along with an iPhone and/or iPad to access files and documents across an integrated ecosystem. But for this to work, all devices should be logged in using the same Apple ID.
The new macOS High Sierra scheduled for release later this month is expected to further enhance iMac's productivity by optimally unitising the processing power from the Kaby Lake series. Online browsing is a far more pleasant experience - Apple has done a good job of disabling cross-site tracking and adverts on Facebook or on the Safari browser. Safari also stopped videos from auto-playing. High Sierra allows changing the entire macOS language to Hindi. For people working on confidential documents, the new Apple File System brings in a new level of data security with built-in encryption, crash-safe protection, and data back-up.
Designers, photographers and developers, who constantly grapple with limited data storage space, can rejoice. The new macOS High Sierra offers more storage within the same space by using its High Efficiency Video Coding standard that compresses videos by upto 40 per cent more than the current standard. The Photos app, too, will receive an update with an expanded side bar making everything easy to search. There are new editing tools such as Curves for fine-tuning and Selective Colour for making colours look more saturated.
From setting up the iMac using my Apple ID to using it as the primary work machine, the experience was smooth all the way. The iMac comes with a set of pre-installed apps - Pages, Numbers and Keynote for creating word documents, spreadsheets and presentations - eliminating the need to instal third party office apps.
It is an ideal machine for creative professionals as it comes loaded with apps such as Photos, iMovie and GarageBand for editing images, videos and creating a fully equipped music studio, respectively. Other apps such as Affinity Photo, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 and Pinnacle Studio can be installed from the App Store. Apple claims that the new iMac is powerful enough to edit 360-degree videos in apps such as Final Cut Pro and for creating 3D VR content as well. The iMac is quick to load heavy images and videos.