Need opinions (honest ones, not brutal ones) on the iMac

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Jan 2001:Need opinions (honest ones, not brutal ones) on the iMac
By _Blackjack on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 01:15 pm: Edit

The iMac is very good at what it is supposed to do: to be a home computer that isn't much more complicated to set up and use than most major appliances. It doesn't sacrifice too much, power-wise, and tho expandability is a pain, most folks won't need anything that can't be done on a USB port. It sounds very much like what Imaldris is looking for, to whit, a general-use computer without too many hassles. If you have the money, go for it.

One warning: if somebody at the store tries to convince you to sign up with MSN internet to get $400 off or something, don't do it. MSN is only marginally Mac-compatible, and they will outright refuse to give you tech support. I ended up having to build by girlfriend a PC after she did that...

By Martin on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 03:22 am: Edit

I think my friend got the stripped iMac, it didn't come with hardly anything.


By Lowlight on Thursday, January 25, 2001 - 12:38 am: Edit

Whatever you do, DON'T get an iMac! Next thing you know, you'll have spiked dyed blonde hair, wearing a shiny shirt while driving a yellow 2001 Volkswagen Beetle humming the tune to "Dah-dah-dah"!

By Admin on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:12 pm: Edit

Mac DOES come with a word processor. It's a little package with word processor, spreadsheet & email proggie. I think they may have licensed Claris or something. But I have a year old iMac and it came with all the goodies.

By Imaldris on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 09:55 pm: Edit

Thanks for all of the advice everyone! Now lets see if I have got this right....

Mac/pro: easy to install out of box, reliable, efficient, and good to use for basic tasks such as email, internet, and cd-burning.

Mac/con: bitch to fix when it crashes, hard to find software for, problems with expandability, small monitor,(comparitively) expensive, and comes with no word processing program.

I'm going to check out the sites that you guys have posted but I think that I will probably end up going with a pc. My main issue is that I do indeed want to be able to use my computer as a "toy". From what I hear the games that I like will most likely not be available for Mac. My life seems to revolve around gaming in some form or another and this is a very important aspect in my decision.

Like I said...Thank you so much everyone for helping me out. You gave me more information in one day than I have been able to find online in four weeks of searching! You all rock..

By _blackjack_ on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 08:10 pm: Edit

Having supported both Macs and PC's, I can say they crash with about the same frequency, if you are doing anything heavy with them. Macs can be much harder to troubleshoot, however, since they are very reluctant to cough up useful information as to what caused the errors. Troublshooting Mac SOFTWARE problems usually consists of spending huge amounts of time turning extensions on and off until you find the offending one, and re-installing the OS is routine maintenance. The Apple file system is a bad joke. It's worse even than FAT...

Macs are MUCH nicer when it comes to installing and troubleshooting HARDWARE problems, however. All of the attempts to improve the situation on PC's have failed, and ACPI has only made matters worse, for my money. I'd rather just set the jumpers...

Windows 2000 is a pretty damn stable OS. It's not Linux, but it's good.

By Lowlight on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 05:13 pm: Edit

Hmm it worked now.. this forum is wacky

By Lowlight on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 05:12 pm: Edit

My PC has crashed about 4-5 times over the past year or so (yes, I keep track). Those are ONLY counting the times that could NOT be directly attributed to me (testing/overclocking hardware for my site).

The whole "Windows crashes all the time, it sux0rz" thing is so ridiculous. I actually equate it to people who think Absinthe will make you crazy or blind, and think it is the most disgusting tasting drink on the planet, because they read an article in Maxim Magazine, and has a sip of Hill's.

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 05:05 pm: Edit


You're right--processor speed is overrated. I'd get more RAM before I'd get a faster processor. I just threw out the gig chip idea to show how cheap they are (even something as unnecessary as a gig processor). Even something "lowly" like P3 800 mhz system would be a couple hundred bucks less (and about $75 more than a Celeron 633).

The doubters:

As for Win2k, maybe I have just been lucky. That being said, Win2K is the most stable MS OS I've ever used. It kicks ass compared to 98 or NT 4 (but that isn't saying much, I know).


By Martin on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 04:37 pm: Edit

Two years ago I wouldn't have recommended a Celeron processor, but since then they have been improved dramatically. They are a good deal.

My friend has destroyed his Mac at least a dozen times. He's always managed to fix it, but it always involved reinstalling everything from scratch and starting over. Upgrading has frequently been a problem for him.

PCs have the Blue Screen of Death, but has anyone ever seen the Unhappy Mac Face when a Mac starts up and there's something terribly wrong? Its pretty funny... that little Mac icon with the frowny face. As soon as you see that, you know you're in some shit.

One thing I can say good about Macs is that they seem to last well. People still use Macs from 5 years ago, you don't see that kind of thing very often with PCs. I have a PowerPC 7200, and it's still useful, I don't try doing anything intense on it though. I mostly just use it for word processing and some basic graphics stuff.


By Anatomist1 on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 03:22 pm: Edit

My PC with windows ME only crashed once, when I was fooling with something on the control panel I shouldn't have. Win ME has a dandy backup feature where you portion of a bit of your hard-drive and save everything there in a compressed format. If you crash, you put in a CD and it restores everything for you.

I've heard this stuff about Macs not crashing, but my roommate's Mac has had endless baffling problems, especially when he started upgrading things. The Mac OS is so automatized, it is very difficult to figure out what's wrong if something does go bad. He has a systems analyst degree and has purchased every consumer info resource available, but he is still reduced to reinstalling everything from scratch when things go wrong -- this has included loading an entire old version of the OS followed by upgrades to newer versions in some cases, followed by reinstalling programs and backed up data.

I guess I disagree with Bob, though, on what processor to get. I say that unless you are really into high-speed first person shooter games, or video capture and editing, there is no reason to waste money on an upper end, speedy processor: save $500-1000 dollars. If you find out later on you really need the speed, get a processor upgrade -- the price will be much lower then. Like I said, I have a lowly Celeron 633 and have had no problems with Photoshop, web editors, playing video clips, etc...


By Martin on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 03:17 pm: Edit

I've seen Death. He's not so scary. All it does is take 5 minutes out of my time. Everything's fine after that.

I have a friend who got an iMac shorty after they first came out. She thought it was easy to get on the internet, but she had a hell of a time changing her wallpaper. And get this... it didn't even come with a word processor. What kind of computer package doesn't come with Word or Claris Works or something like that?

Daedelus, we obviously have different standards for what sounds good. iMac speakers sound like garbage, and the quality of the built-in soundcard is horrible, the built-in sound on ALL Macs is disgusting, but at least with one of the towers you can put a real audio card in it. Bookshelf systems sound like garbage too.

If you want a Mac get a G4 Tower... stay away from all their other trendy junk.


By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 12:10 pm: Edit


I'm not saying PC's are a bad thing, don't take
it on the chin... they're just not for everybody...
I'm a player, not a tinkerer...

By Black_rabbit on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 12:05 pm: Edit

Bob, what the hell kind of system are you running? Windows crashes like the sun rises: spectacularly and every day. There are 400 PCs in my immediate vicinity, so I have a pretty good idea how (un)reliable they are :-P I have worked with every windows OS since 3.1 (except for ME) and they have all been poopy, in fact get worse every release.

By Black_rabbit on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 12:03 pm: Edit

I have seen the face of Death, and it is blue. And Death did say 'Beginning physical memory dump, contact your IT department.' And Death did say this often, and we did weep, and gnash our teeth. And the IT department commanded us, saying 'Reboot!' And upon rebooting, Satan did say 'your computer was not properly shut down. Windows will automatically begin scandisk in 3 seconds...' And we were punished for our sins, yeah, even unto General Protection Fault.

By Lordhobgoblin on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:52 am: Edit


If you're PC has never crashed or frozen then you're a lucky man. I've yet to meet someone as lucky as that.


By Bob_chong on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:39 am: Edit

I don't know what pieces of crap you're using, Pikkle, but I have had no problems with my PC. And Win2K has been running over a year now on my machine and has not crashed once (knock on wood).


By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:20 am: Edit

Lowlight... it's all a matter of preference really.
I'm forced to use PC's at work, that's fine and
dandy, I work around the bugs and the
crashes, I have tech guys there to fix all that.
At home, I've got a Mac, only because in the 8
or so years I've owned and used them, they've
had no where near the nightmare proportion
problems I've had with PC's which I have to
use on a daily basis. E-ppliance, perhaps, but
I turn it on, and it works the way I want it to,
that's the bottom line. And yes, it's worth the
few extra hundred dollars to avoid the

By Lowlight on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:13 am: Edit

If you're spending $1700 you'd be CRAZY to waste it on an "e-appliance" like an iMac.

If you DO want to go for the Mac platform, skip the iMac all together.

And no, it is NOT better for 'people like you'. They only tell you that because it looks 'cute' and is more accepted by beginners. Simple marketing; it is no easier to use than any other Mac based computer.

Follow Bob's advice: Take your $1700, get an Athlon 1Ghz (you'll save a couple $hundred this way and get a just as fast, if not faster, PC), get a sweet monitor, good speakers (I have the Klipsch ProMedia speakers, and they BLAST like you wouldn't believe), and a good CDR (I'd suggest the Plextor Plexwriter 12x10x32x for a top end IDE unit).

There are some reviews on my site you might find useful as well:

Good Luck!

By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:12 am: Edit

No Josh, you know where the steering wheel
is no problem, it's when you turn the key and
the fucking thing won't turn over... try popping
the hood and figuring that one out. Macs start
almost everytime...

By Joshua on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:10 am: Edit

"I mean, it's not like I get behind the wheel of my parents' Toyota and say, "Holy crap! Where's the steering wheel and gas pedal!!!" lol thats the funniest thing ive read all day.

By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 11:10 am: Edit

Please dear Chongumunga
You are talking about two operating systems
having to work in tandem versus one... the bug
factor is out of this world. Most of the pc's at
work crash at least once a day running merely
Microsoft Office and such. Do you know how
much time is wasted trying to recover lost
data? What kind of stability is that? The only
reason most companies aren't using Macs is
their lack of software development because
Jobs was too stupid to licence the Mac OS
from the git go... trust me, you'd be using one
right now if that had never happened. You
know why? Window's would have never been
developed in the first place, Gates' half-assed
attempt at being Macintosh. Good day to you

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 10:56 am: Edit


My 60-something in-laws had their e-monster up and running on the net pronto.

I've had two PCs and never consulted the manual once to get it going.

Just because your "IT guys" are idiots is no reason to get silly, Pikkle.

Besides, whether it takes an hour to set up a PC (which it doesn't) or five minutes to set up an iMac, what percentage of your computer usage is that? It's not like you have to pack it back up and unpack it again every day.


By Bob_chong on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 10:53 am: Edit

FWIW, both platforms are not that different from each other (all hyberbole aside). It's like Honda vs. Toyota. Whichever you get, you'll have no problems figuring it out.

I mean, it's not like I get behind the wheel of my parents' Toyota and say, "Holy crap! Where's the steering wheel and gas pedal!!!" I use both platforms, and they are just different flavors of the same damn thing.


By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 10:48 am: Edit

Ahem, (cough, cough, bullshit, cough, cough)
Okay Chongeroo... even the IT guys at work
can't get the fucking things to work half the
time... brand new out of the box... but you go
boy, you go on with your bad self!!!

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 10:42 am: Edit

"From unpacking to the net in five minutes, try that with any PC box out there.....goof [sic] luck."

OK, so a PC would take six minutes b/c you'd have to hook up the monitor cable?

Wow, so with a Mac you'd save sixty seconds when first using your computer--what an advantage! Spend the extra money!


By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 09:03 am: Edit

The iMac was designed I think primarily for
college students who didn't have a lot of
money or a lot of space in the dorm room but
still needed a computer... that is who it has
seemed to appeal to anyway. It's very
compact for a total system and hey, how 'bout
those hip colors? Anyway, I don't think
expansion bays and a tiny monitor are that
important to that group in particular, not if it's
just used for writing papers, surfing the net
and picking up hot babes on irc. For
someone who is doing anything graphics
intensive, it would be a blunderous purchase.
I still love my Cube and none of you can take
that away from me... nyaa!

By Anatomist1 on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 08:34 am: Edit

Other thoughts...

iMacs look cool, but I think they are a bad idea because there are no expansion bays and you are locked into a mediocre monitor. Why paint yourself into a corner right from the start? Also, the keyboard and mouse feel very chintzy and uncomfortable to me.

Dell and Gateway are not worth it, unless you are hoplessly technophobic and unanalytical. Their prices are high, and the internal components are the same or worse than what you would get if you shopped around. What they are selling you is convenience, and it's expensive.

If you can find what you want at, they seem good -- good prices, good service. They were recommended to me and I was not disappointed. Delivery was fast and I returned a $600 item for a refund with no hassles.


By Anatomist1 on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 08:18 am: Edit

If you're willing to sacrifice a little processor speed, you can get a great deal on a PC -- much, much better than with Macs. A few months ago, I got a Compaq with a Celeron 633mhz, which was the low end of what was still being sold new. I got the computer, a cd burner, and a seperate reader, a 19" perfectly-flat screen monitor, total 320 Gigs memory, a 1200 dpi scanner, and an optical mouse for about $1200 total. Try that with a Mac. Part of the problem is that the slightly outdated Macs don't seem to be sold new.

I don't play the newest games or do much with video, so I didn't really need any extra megahertz. I run Photoshop so I needed the extra memory and screen size more. I have never done anything on my computer that made me wish I had spent an extra $1000 on processor speed. Bob is right in that the screen size/quality will probably make the most difference to you -- once you try a perfectly flat screen you'll never go back. My Samsung Syncmaster 955df cost a little less than $350.

When you go to buy a CD burner, pay attention to what software is offered. The main variance between brands is the software and the customer service availability. After comparing, I chose one with 8x write speed and Adaptec software and haven't been disappointed: very easy to use.


By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 07:36 am: Edit

i don't know about the iMac... lot's of students
seem to have bought them because they are
so compact... I myself own the Cube, which is
just fine for whatever apps I want to run..
software availability is limited unfortunately
due to the Job's blunders in the 80's (yes, I
think he did forsee Bill Gates as the
anti-christ) but it's a breeze to use... only one
operating system, completely point and click
interface, installation of software is mindless
which it should be (I mean really Martin, who
cares exactly what is getting installed where
as long as it does what it's supposed to.) I got
my mom an iMac for X-mas, only because I
knew she'd never even get a pc to turn on, let
alone know how to use it... I think if all you're
going to do is game, go online and burn cd's,
an Imac will be just fine... If they have a firewire
connection, all the better, the Cube does,
super fast!!!

By Daedelus on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 07:02 am: Edit



By Daedelus on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 07:02 am: Edit


By Daedelus on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 06:59 am: Edit



being a sound geek and all, you may have to forgive me for my transgression, BUT iMac speakers sound great. They are engineered by Harmon-Kardon, and for such tiny speakers they sound amazing. For $199 more add the SoundSticks and the iSub and you have a sound system to rival most bookshelf systems. Great bass from the "jellyfish" and great everything else from the sticks and the built-in HK speakers.

As to burning CD's, if you give Apple a month or so they will be shipping new iMacs, more processor power, maybe new screens, and definitely with internal CD/RW.

Macs are also catching up in the Gaming department, but come on, they really are made to do work you know. If you just want a toy buy a crappy old PC with lots of RAM and a high-end video card. Oh yeah Mac video cards are much better since the last six months or so.

Imaldris, if you decide to get an iMac, do yourself the favor and get a special edition one in either graphite or snow. The extra $400 bucks is worth it in processor speed and extra RAM that they ship with. The design of the thing will make you smile also, right down to how they package the damn things. Oh yeah, a completely computer illiterate friend of mine got her new iMac and was literally up and running on the net in five minutes. From unpacking to the net in five minutes, try that with any PC box out there.....goof luck.


By Rtlplus3 on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 06:52 am: Edit

go to and look at thier reviews. For the most part they are non bias.

By Martin on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 04:15 am: Edit

If you want to burn CDs I would have to recommend a PC or maybe a Mac tower... not an iMac. Do iMacs even have CDR drives in them? I don't think so, so you'd probably have to get an external USB one and that starts making everything much less fun. The internal sound card/speakers in an iMac is also of exceptionally poor quality. There are some good sound programs for Mac, but my favorites are all PC. Also the good sound programs that ARE available for Mac are VERY expensive.

With the budget you're looking at, you can get a very good PC setup... something much more suitable for what you want than an iMac. A Mac can suit your needs, but it would have to be one of the more expensive tower style ones.


By Marc on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 12:54 am: Edit


if you're serious about computer gaming, a PC is the only way to go.

By Bob_chong on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 12:22 am: Edit

I dunno about about upgradeable--perhaps you mean expandable?

I think for $1700 you can get something sweet, in either platform.

My one piece of advice: get the biggest frigging monitor you can afford. I got my 19 incher for about $350 over two years ago, and it was the greatest thing I ever did (btw, they're much cheaper now). That, and the $130 desk chair. So I guess that's two pieces of advice: get comfy, both bodily and visually.

The rest of your needs sound kind of Mac-ish, but I'll let the diehard Mac evangelists work their mojo from here.

Then again, you could get a PC with 1 GHz Pentium III, 128MB RAM, 20 gig HD, and 19" monitor for about $1000. Add a chair ;-) and a CD burner and you're looking at about $1200 to $1300 (which is a couple hundred bucks less than an Apple G4 alone, without any monitor, burner, or other accoutrements). That leaves ample budget for software and absinthe.


By Imaldris on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 - 12:02 am: Edit


Money is a bit of an object but I am willing to spend more for a computer that does everything I want it to, is reliable, and upgradeable. I am hoping that that will amount to no more than $1700.00. If it does...well, no computer for me.

By Imaldris on Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 11:59 pm: Edit

Bob Chong-

Thats a good question..I havent really thought about it. I guess I spend most of my time lately in here..hee hee...surfing or checking my email. (Mainly thats because my computer is a dinosaur and cant handle much more than that.) What I would like to do is play games online, like Magic:The some graphic arts, burn cd's, use basic word processing programs, watch dvds...and be able to download mp3s without my computer crashing. Eventually I would like to learn how to use a sound-manipulation program to create my own music...but thats far away for me yet. My main desire is to learn how to burn cd's. I saw something that worried me in the "how about a chatroom" thread, which I read after I made my questioning post, was that there is alot of software that isnt available for Mac. Do you think this is really the case? Should I head to my local Electronics Boutique to check it out?

By Tavis on Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 11:52 pm: Edit

The major con for me was the apalling screen. Everything seemed out of focus and is only 15". It would be okay as an email/web machine though.

I'm very pleased with the screen I have on my PC, which is one of those completely flat tubes.

By Bob_chong on Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 11:20 pm: Edit

It would probably be helpful if you described the kinds of things you want to do with a computer. How much of each of these things will you be doing? (e.g., 90% of computer time will be email and Internet, 8% will be word processing, and 2% will be listening to music...etc.)

I mean, if I were to ask opinions about getting a car, I would have to first describe what it is I need to do with it. Why get a pick-up truck if my primary concern is gas mileage, or why get a sports coupe if I have a family of six?

Finally, is money no object?


By Imaldris on Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 11:13 pm: Edit

I'm not trying to start a fight but i would appreciate it if anyone could tell me what the pros and cons are of owning an iMac. even help finding some good sites that would tell me more about it without trying to sell me one. i'm not an experienced computer user, cant even use excel...(pathetic, i know) and have heard that the iMac is good for people like me. any help would be much appreciated! everything i've found online in reference to the iMac has been a sales pitch, not simple information.

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