The Annoying White iMac
- 2007.02.15 - Tip Jar
Apple is justifiably famous for its industrial design, and in the current assortment of Apple products, the iMac is widely regarded as a great example of what makes Apple computers special. While my 20" G5 iMac is now two generations out-of-date, it's identical to the latest 20" version in terms of appearance and industrial design.
It also really annoys me.
Don't get me wrong I still think that the current iMac design is about the best desktop computer available for home use. Intel or G5 makes very little difference to me; they're all very powerful, elegant, and reliable computers that really don't have any shortcomings in typical use.
So what makes them annoying?
It certainly isn't the form-factor, which is absolute brilliance. Apple engineers managed to pack a powerful computer into an enclosure barely larger than an LCD monitor, and they didn't skimp on either the display or the computer. The 20" LCD is bright, vibrant, and beautiful, while behind it are mounted a fast processor, fast video, fast hard drive, fast SuperDrive, and a pair of good-sounding speakers.
What could possibly be annoying about that?
Okay, I'll tell you: It's white. There, I said it.
While the white casing looks cool, modern, hip, luxurious, clean, and any other superlative you care to use, it's also distracting. Last night I sat and watched a DVD movie on it and found that my eye kept getting pulled away from the movie and toward the white bezel that surrounds the monitor.
I think that this is the reason why most monitors have black enclosures, as do most laptops. Even the aluminum bezel on my old PowerBooks was darker than the vibrant white of the iMac - or maybe it's just that there is so much white on the large 20" model (I can imagine the sea of whiteness on the 24").
I've always thought that the current iMacs would look terrific in black, but watching movies made me really wish it was an option. [Editor's note: MacColors made US$50 silicon "slips" for 17" and 20" G5 and Intel iMacs. Black was one of the colors offered. They are no longer available. Speck Products also made SeeThru hard plastic cases for white iMacs at one time.]
I did a little comparison at the office this morning and put a DVD movie into my two-headed Power Mac. While both 19" Samsung LCDs are electronically identical, one (the cheaper one) has a simpler black plastic case, while the fancier one has a titanium-look case much the same shade of silver/gray as an aluminum PowerBook. I watched a scene on the black monitor, then moved it to the silver one, and then back and forth a few more times.
Unscientific as my test may have been, I found that image seemed larger on the black monitor than on the silver one, even though both are calibrated the same.
Is the white case enough to sour me on the iMac experience? No, I still consider it to be the best home computer ever conceived. DVD movies are still impressive on this 20" widescreen bedroom theater system.
But were Apple to release a black iMac, I just might find it incentive enough to upgrade to both an Intel processor and the 24" size.
Andrew J Fishkin, Esq, is a laptop using attorney in Los Angeles, CA.
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