Thoughts on new 27″ iMac, Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse

I went to BestBuy today to price some camera stuff and while I was there I moseyed on over to check out the new 27″ iMacs. This was an interesting experience.

First, the price they had for their display model was $2,099. That’s uh, almost $500 above MSRP. So, when Mr. BestBuy guy comes around I tell him. He says, and I’m not kidding, that Apple just released the new 27″ iMacs “three or four days ago” and they “don’t have any of them in, yet.” Of course, that’s when I look at him, then the 27″ iMac staring us in the face and say, “Well. What’s that?” The conversation went like this:

Mr. BestBuy: “That’s the old 27″ iMac.”

Me: “There’s no such thing. Apple released this weeks ago. I’m holding the new mouse in my hand. See that over there? That’s the 24″ iMac. It has the aluminum margin around the display and the old Mighty Mouse and wired keyboard.”

Mr. BestBuy: “Oh. Well, the specs on this must be higher than the typical machine.”

Me: [Going to apple.com/store], “Nope. That’s this machine alright. You might want to check in on that price.”

Mr. BestBuy: “Yeah. Let me go see what’s up and if we have any in stock.”

Sure enough, they didn’t have any in stock and their price was way off. I feel bad for anyone that came in and paid $2,000 for that machine. That doesn’t help the old addage that Apple’s machines are overpriced, either.

While he was away, I compared the 24″ (my current machine) and the 27″. I was a little underwhelmed. I was expecting something really grand with the 27″ but I wasn’t surprised. It was wider, but that’s about it. Side-by-side I could tell that I could fit about half of a third Safari window on the display vs. the two full windows on the 24″ at Safari’s native size. Half a window isn’t really useful, now is it?

I kept tinkering with it and couldn’t find much difference in speed. I opened all the same apps on the two machines and didn’t find much difference in load, quit or open file times.

In the meantime, a couple guys came around, probably father and son, and I told them about the iMacs. They were asking questions about Boot Camp and the like and by the time Mr. BestBuy came back, I had them sold on a 24″ iMac. You’re welcome, BestBuy and Apple.

I told Mr. BestBuy I didn’t see a compelling reason to fork over the estimated $600 it would cost for me to sell my 24″ and buy the 27″. For all of the above reasons and for the reason that .5 Ghz isn’t that much faster than my current machine, I have the same 4GB of RAM and I have nearly 500 GB of hard drive space still left on my 24″. Plus, my Canon DSLR camera uses compact flash cards, so not even the SD card slot was of use to me. Otherwise, the only cosmetic differences are the flush-black margin and the back of the iMac is aluminum instead of black.

So, I told him I just wanted a new keyboard and mouse instead. To my surprise, Apple actually includes the batteries in the device. I was looking on the packaging for “Batteries Not Included”, but they were and they’re Energizers. Brand name batteries that might actually last longer than an hour and are already installed. Nice job, Apple.

The keyboard is nice. It has a slightly duller “click” to each of the keys compared to the sharper sounding wired keyboard. It also drops the USB ports, too. Which, I have a feeling I’m going to miss when I have to get up to plug my thumb drive in. Although, I am enjoying being able to sit back in my chair with the keyboard in my lap.

The Magic Mouse has some room for improvement. At the store, swiping was a little hard on the smooth table. My cold fingers actually wanted to take the mouse with them and it resulted in mouse movements instead of swiping. At home, I use a mousepad because I don’t like the sound of the scraping mouse on my desk. On the mousepad, it works very well and stays put. Swiping is easy, intuitive and works smoothly like the iPhone. You can even tell the mouse to use “Momentum” so a hard swipe kinda “throws” the scrolling around, like on the iPhone. The tracking seems to have some momentum built in, too. It seems to know when you’re going to be precise on a pixel and when you’re probably going to move to the other side of the screen. It’s a nice thing once you get used to it and it gets used to you.

One downside is that unlike the old Mighty Mouse (now the Apple Mouse), you can’t squeeze it. Which is a real downer for people like me that constantly find themselves using Expose. And, since the wheel is gone, you can’t click that, either. Meaning you lose two buttons. For me, that’s Dashboard and Expose. I’m hopeful that Apple will release a software update soon that allows the Magic Mouse to handle three and four finger swipes. The surface is large enough and feels comfortable enough in my hand to let me do that. I imagine Apple is “easing” people into the new device by keeping it simple for the time being.

In all, for those using an older iMac or a previous generation 21″ iMac, the 27″ is a very fine machine and worth the money. The Quad-Core 27″ iMac would be worth it to anyone. But, going from a 24″ iMac to a 27″ iMac isn’t that much of an improvement to warrant the increased price. Currently, on eBay, 24″ iMacs are selling for about $900-$1,200. Meaning, if you sold your 24″, expect to drop $600 on the new 27″.

Or, do what I did and just buy a new mouse and keyboard. It’ll make any old iMac feel fresh and new again.

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