It's said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever, but current Apple iMac owners have only had a couple of years to enjoy their desktop PC before being presented with a new object of desire. The latest iMacs are more evolutionary than revolutionary, but still offer a leap forward. The 21.5-inch iMac starts at around £950, while the 27-inch model, upon which this review is based, begins at about £1,350.
Both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs have essentially the same appearance as the old 21-inch and 24-inch models, but elements of the MacBook Pro's design have also crept in, adding a greater degree of design consistency across the Mac range.
The old black plastic back has been replaced with case that's carved from a single block of aluminium, for a 'unibody' feel, and the glass screen now extends right to the edge of the case. The bottom bezel has also shrunk and now measures 60mm on the 27-inch iMac, compared to 85mm on the old 24-inch model.
As you might expect, the 27-inch iMac is wider than the 24-inch version -- measuring 650mm across, as opposed to 570mm -- but it's no taller and so should fit on a desk just as easily. It still feels ridiculously large when you sit in front of it, but we'll probably all be craving a 32-inch model before too long.
The major change for all new iMac models is the move to LED-backlit screens. These pop to full brightness much more quickly than the previous CCFL displays and are more evenly lit across their entire expanse, although our model still had a faint discoloured stripe towards its bottom edge. The new displays also provide a much greater brightness range. The 27-inch iMac screen is positively dim at its lowest setting -- something that couldn't be said of the older iMacs.
The screen might be smaller, but the 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution of the 21.5-inch iMac's display is only slightly lower than the 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution of the outgoing 24-inch model. The 27-inch iMac has a whopping resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels, which is enough to display two 1,280x1,024-pixel windows side by side. The increased pixel density of both screens also makes everything on the display look sharper, but everything in the Mac OS X operating system is rendered slightly smaller as a result.
Apple supplies the new Bluetooth keyboard as standard (it's the same as before, but with one less battery), but you can still opt for a wired keyboard with a numeric keypad. Also included is the new Mighty Mouse, still won't please everyone., which, while a vast improvement over the