The Bottom Line
- Excellent High Color Display
- Strong Performance For All-In-One Desktop
- Improved Magic Mouse
- Glass Display Creates Lots of Reflections
- All Peripheral Ports On Back Of Panel Which Is Inconvenient
- Keyboard Doesn't Include Numeric Keypad
- Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 Dual-Core Desktop Processor
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 21.5" WUXGA (1920x1080) LED Backlit Display With NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Integrated Graphics
- HDA Audio With 17W Stereo Speakers
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Four USB 2.0, FireWire 800, Mini DisplayPort, Webcam, SD Card Slot
- 20.8" x 17.8" x 7.4"
- Mac OS X 10.6, iLife
Guide Review - Apple 2009 iMac 21.5-inch All-In-One Desktop PC
Jan 4 2010 - The big new feature of Apple's late 2009 iMac product revision is the new 16:9 displays. The 21.5-inch model features a very impressive panel that uses IPS technology that provides a greater level of color and LED backlighting for improved contrast and color. It fully supports 1080p HD video with the 1920x1080 resolution. This is certainly a great screen for anyone looking to do professional color graphics work and is far beyond what many companies offer for all-in-one systems.
Apple continues to use high gloss glass covers for the displays to keep the highest level of color. This produces the same drawback of a greater level of reflections that can be very distracting in certain lighting conditions. They also only equip the base $1200 iMac version with the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics. This is certainly acceptable for the majority of users but those possibly considering using the system for gaming or high-end graphics will want to go with an upgraded version with the dedicated ATI graphics.
Performance on the Apple 21.5-inch iMacs is certainly very strong for an all-in-one desktop system. Many companies rely on the mobile processors with their lower power consumption and less heat generation. Apple has instead used a full desktop version of the Intel Core 2 Duo along with DDR3 memory. This allows it to power through applications. It would have been nice to see them include options for the Core i5/i7 processor like they do for the 27-inch model but the performance is still some of the best in the $1200 price range.
With its minimalistic design, the peripherals also take on a clean and simple design approach. This is definitely a bonus for the new Magix Mouse that replaces the often plagued Mighty Mouse. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the new gesture touch controls on it, but they open up a wide range of input functions. The keyboard on the other hand is a bit disappointing. It has a nice feel when being used but the smaller design is similar to their laptop keyboards as it does not have the numeric keypad on it. At least both are wireless which keeps cable clutter down.
One quibble that I have with the minimalistic design though is the peripheral port layout. The four USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort and FireWire port all reside on the back side of the display. This certainly helps keep the cables more organized and out of the way but it makes it much more difficult to quickly plug in a USB thumbdrive or hard drive. It would be nice to see at least one of the USB ports at least on either side for easy access when you need to use a peripheral for short periods of time.
Overall, this is still one of the best all-in-one systems for those looking for a high performance system with excellent display. It may not have multi-touch or as many multimedia functions, but what features it does have are done extremely well.