The iMac Channel

iMac Sites Reviewed

March 21, 2000 - Dan Knight

The iMac Channel has been around since June 6, 1998. It was almost the first iMac site, but I later learned that The iMac NewsPage beat me by a few days. In fact, you'll find that the four oldest iMac sites were all begun during the first three weeks of June 1998. (To promote these fledgling sites, we banded together and created The iMac Ring that summer.)

I'll let you know my bias up front: I think the iMac Channel is the best at what it does. On the other hand, each of these sites does something different. Each has a unique focus that sets it apart. I visit about half of these sites daily.

Unlike my earlier overview of PowerBook and iBook sites, where I claimed to be just a bit player, I'm proud to be a big part of the world of iMac sites.

The iMac NewsPage (June 1, 1998)

The iMac NewsPage takes the prize as the oldest iMac site. Jeffrey Cho of Singapore started it on his own. At my recommendation, it became part of the MacTimes network, then went independent after MacTimes folded.

I've always appreciated the international perspective Cho brings to the site, as well as insider info on the Singapore Mac scene. Remember, a lot of Apple computers are built in Singapore.

The home page is an attractive two-column design with clean artwork and sharp backgrounds. The main text box is an unusual gray with black text and white links. It's a trick picking the right shades to make this work, but it works very nicely. The same can be said of the navigation bar on the left, which uses a shade of orange on a mottled maroon background.

Text is displayed in the remarkably friendly Verdana typeface (if you have it installed) and set to one size smaller than your default. Unfortunately for the visually challenged, the text size does not increase via the Larger button in Internet Explorer. iCab users will not suffer from this limitation.

In addition to their own articles, the iMac NewsPage includes a wealth of links to articles of interest to iMac users from many sources around the Web. Although not updated frequently, the site is a visual treat and a good source of information.

iMac2Day (June 9, 1998)

iMac2Day was launched just days after the iMac Channel and is the third-oldest iMac site in existence today. iMac2Day's strengths are daily updates and lots of interesting new briefs. The pages load pretty quickly and are very attractive. It is one of the handful of Mac-centric sites that uses Geneva as it's default typeface.

Like many sites, iMac2Day uses a two-column layout with a navigation bar on the left. By default, type is one size smaller than the norm for your browser, a size that Geneva displays nicely. However, if you find it too small, the Larger button in Internet Explorer or iCab will make the text larger.

Jeff Keller, who also runs the Digital Camera Resource Page (and my favorite digicam site), created iMac2Day, which is now owned and operated by the Macintosh News Network. It's a site that iMac users should put on their "visit daily" list.

The iMac.com (June 19, 1998)

The iMac.com tries for a trendier look than the above sites, but ends up looking like it's trying too hard. Updates are sporadic, although the Angry Mac Man columns by Rodney O. Lain are definitely something one hopes to find when visiting The iMac. (Okay, Rodney's columns are worth reading anywhere you find them, including here.) At this point, it almost looks like the publishers have lost interest - something not uncommon in a world where most sites call it quits inside of two years.

Design is primarily a two-column format, moving to three-columns toward the bottom of the page, where you'll find news links from last November through January. The body text is small, but can be increased with the Larger button in Internet Explorer and iCab.

The iMac 512 (August 15, 1998)

The iMac 512 is part of the Mac 512 site, which explains the "512" in its name. It was begun on August 15, 1998, the first day the iMac was available, and claims to be the first iMac site designed on an iMac. I don't see how anyone could dispute the claim.

iMac 512 is obviously a hobbyist's site. It's got some good content, but it's not the kind of site you'll visit every day looking for the latest news or opinions on iMac developments.

iMac Support Center

The iMac Support Center at About.com is run by Ryan J. Faas and regularly features new articles of interest to the iMac user. The design uses the utilitarian About.com layout with a navigation bar on the right. Text is your default font at one size smaller than your default setting, although you can bump that up in Internet Explorer or iCab.

I've never been able to get excited about About.com. It's a great paradigm: mine all the information about a topic and gather it in one place. However, the site has an impersonal feeling. It feels more like an encyclopedia than anything else.

iMac Currents

iMac Currents is part of Computer Currents. Like the iMac Support Center, it seems to lack the personal feel of most Mac sites. However, here the focus is more on news than on product information, so you can expect to find new news links regularly.

Layout uses three columns with some very small type in the right and left columns, but very legible type in the center column.

The Daily Mac (1999)

The Daily Mac doesn't quite live up to its name - it isn't updated daily. It is updated one to three times per week with a fair bit of original content. Of all the sites mentioned here, Daily Mac has the most innovative design, which includes user-defined iMac-inspired color schemes that rotate among palettes the user has selected.

Daily Mac uses a two column design with navigation on the left. Text is a size smaller than your default, but it can be enlarged with the Larger button in iCab or Internet Explorer.

I've been a fan of Daily Mac since the beginning, and my only disappointment is that this site isn't updated more frequently. The content is generally excellent.

The iMac Geek (1998)

I discovered this site through the Top 25 iMac Sites page. I've only visited a few times, but it's a very attractive hobby site. (You can usually tell the hobby sites by their lack of sponsors and/or appearance on hosts such as Xoom, Angelfire, and AOL.)

The iMac Geek uses the Trebuchet font, a more stylized alternative to Microsoft's free Verdana typeface. It's a comfortable font, although somewhat heavier than Verdana. Unfortunately, text is a size smaller than your default and stays that way in Internet Explorer no matter how many times you click on the Larger button. (iCab has overcome this problem - I do wish they'd finish this neat little browser!)

I don't know if The iMac Geek will make my "visit daily" list, but I'm visiting regularly to see how it's updated.

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