Closer Look: Shiny, Er, Glossy New iMacs and Better-Than-Ever iLife and iWork '08

Leslie Ayers's picture

Closer Look: Shiny, Er, Glossy New iMacs and Better-Than-Ever iLife and iWork '08

Of course, iMacs weren't the end of the story today. Although he didn't say, "And one more thing…" Steve did had a couple more things up his sleeve once he'd introduced the thinner, prettier iMacs: iLife and iWork '08.

 

We'll admit, we assumed the update to the iApps suites wouldn't appear until October's Leopard release. We're perfectly happy to admit that we were wrong. Especially since we can't wait to get our hands on two new iLife apps in particular: iPhoto '08 and iMovie '08, which has been totally redesigned and bears very little resemblance to the version of iMovie you probably have on your Mac today.

 

Out of the gate, a cool new feature available in both iPhoto and iMovie is something apple calls "skimming." Essentially, this lets you place your cursor over a collection of photos to see a quick run-through of the photos in that collection. In iMovie, you can skim a video clip in the thumbnail view simply by dragging the mouse over it - a way to find sequences in captured video that is much faster than just pressing play. The highlight of the iPhoto update is a better way to find and organize your photos, based around events.

 

Every time you add new photos to iPhoto, instead of naming the group of images "Roll 10," or "Roll 581," iMovie will create a new event and date it. You can then go and give the event a custom name like "Joe and Maria's Wedding" or "Family Reunion Summer 07." If you've shot multiple events on the same date, you can easily split events into two, and, conversely, merge them if you want to keep all shots from a long weekend or a multi-day vacation together. Another handy new feature is Hide, which lets you hide images you don't quite want to delete but that you'd rather not have clutter up the view in any given Event.

 

This is the Events view in iPhoto '08. Look at all the photos of cute kids and fun activities Steve has on his iMac!

 

We were also looking forward to the hands-on session after Steve's presentation, to learn more about iPhoto's "powerful new editing tools." But when we asked one of the Apple demonstrators to show us, she didn't seem quite prepared for that question. She navigated to the edit window, at least, where we saw that there's more than just red-eye reduction in the new iPhoto. You've got better cropping, some advanced photo enhancement and effects, and even new shadow and highlight controls - all welcome additions. (Although, among lower-end photo editors, it's still no match for Adobe Photoshop Elements; however, we'll probably make do with iPhoto '08 until Adobe releases Elements 5.0 for the Mac...someday.)

 

We like the way iPhoto's editing window looks like Aperture. It makes a non-pro editor feel, well, like a pro.

 

The reason Apple redesigned iMovie from the ground up was, apparently, a happy accident. A video engineer went on vacation to the Grand Caymans and, upon his return, wanted to throw together a quick, short video in iMovie HD with highlights from his trip. Several hours later, and with nothing to show for it, he had decided, instead, to develop an app that would allow him to create high-quality video in 30 minutes or less. And iMovie '08 was born.

 

Speaking for the non-video-editors on staff, we're genuinely excited about getting our hands on iMovie '08. Steve always makes iLife and iWork apps look super-simple in his demos, but iMovie truly seems as easy to use as he makes it out to be. But simple doesn't mean dumbed down - nor does it mean that you'll get an amateurish result. In addition to making it a breeze to grab video clips from multiple files and combine them in one movie, iMovie '08 can import video in a range of current formats, including AVCHD, HDV, and DV camcorders, as well as from digital cameras that have movie capabilities.

 

iMovie's skimming feature in action (see the action blur??). Seriously, though, see the clip bordered in red? The tiny vertical line is showing you where you are in the clip.

 

.Mac members will enjoy some new perks as well, namely in the form of the .Mac Web Gallery. In both iPhoto and iMovie, it's now brainlessly easy to upload photos or movies to share with anyone online: You just click a button. You can, of course, specify what type of sharing you want to do, and in the case of photos, you can also allow visitors to download print-quality versions of your pictures (hurrah!) and even upload their own photos from the same event to add to your gallery. For movies, visitors have the choice of viewing them in small, medium, or large format, which is going to be a somewhat large file, of course, but is better than DVD quality. (This is where Steve mentioned that we won't be making DVDs to send to Grandma anymore...which he could be right about, as long as Grandma has a better-than-dialup Net connection at home.) Best of all, the Web Gallery is gorgeous - and you can take credit for it.

 

GarageBand '08 features a slick new capability that will be music to the ears of novice producers and parents of music-loving children who, up until now, probably couldn't work in the app without a lot of hand-holding. The feature, called Magic GarageBand, is, as Steve put it, "a way in" to GarageBand for people who might be intimidated by its standard interface. Essentially, when you choose Magic GarageBand, you get an animated stage with icons for various types of music. Click on one and an instrumental track begins to play. You then "edit" the track by clicking on the various instruments and selecting different options than the defaults, which instantly change in real time.

 

This is what Magic GarageBand looks like. When you click on any instrument while a track is playing, you can select different versions of it to create different sounds.

 

iWeb '08 has a cool live Web widgets feature, which lets you add a host of cool tidbits to your site, including Google Maps, Google AdSense (attention bloggers - you can make money from your website if you're not already doing so!), and the ability to use HTML snippets from any site, including YouTube (granted you're not infringing on copyright, of course).

 

In truth, there are almost too many new features in iLife '08 to cover them all here - so be sure to watch for more detailed first looks at all the iLife apps, as well as comprehensive reviews in the November 2007 issue of Mac|Life, and, of course, here on MacLife.com. iLife '08 comes free on all new Macs, and can be purchased for $79. It's fully compatible with Mac OS X Tiger, and will work with Leopard as well.

 

But wait, there's even more...iWork '08!

 

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benet

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meiqihuo

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Anonymous

It is an excellent little cheap office suite. Offers a quite good compatibility with MS Office and remains powerful enough for a lot of jobs, with an interface really more intuitive, simple and easy-to-use than OpenOffice.

But this 3rd version is still lacking of good support with RTL languages wich is a pitty since TextEdit and almost all Cocoa softwares support them quite well. Also it is a pity because it as better support of MS Word and better desktop publishing functions than Mellel.

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Anonymous

Hello,

I've had a chance to compare both the 2.16 20' inch Imac and the new 2.4 aluminum one since I returned my white one for the newer aluminum one.

This new one is a true piece of modern art.

Here is what I've found so far.

The keyboard action is ok, but not as lively as the old white keyboard which had more play. And the keys are flat and not cupped like the old standard ones. I need to get use to the new lettering on the keyboard which is a different font. These little changes might bug some people.

I've also noticed that the new USB2 ports on the keyboard sides are REALLY recessed which make plugging things in a pain, since you have to pickup the keyboard. FYI - There are no legs or height adjustment on the back of this keyboard. The USB2 ports should be flush with the edge of the keyboard and higher up to be truly useful. Currently my Attache data stick is one of the keyboard legs( way to thick to fit). I got some chair leg felt tabs to stick on the back to get some extra height. Seems to work well , but Apple should have thought this out? I guess It is something they can fix on the next keyboard.

I've also noticed the edge of the aluminum computer is razor shape. I think they should have rounded it a little like the keyboard edge. Some one is going to get a nice cut.

The only other thing I have noticed is this machine runs HOT. The back black surface gets very hot compared to my old one which never got hot. I double checked all the vents to make sure none of the packing tape was covering any thing. The vents are sucking air fine but it is still running hotter than my old one I had two weeks back. Many the new glass monitor retains heat? I have turned the sleep timer on earlier. I am hoping this well keep it cooler.

These are my only worrisome things I've found with the new aluminum Imac. I really like it compared to the PC laptop that runs Vista at work.
Can't wait to get Leopard on this!

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Disenchanted

Alright, the new iMac is BETTER than the old iMac, but only marginally. I think Apple could have done more to make the current new iMac more powerful and functional, but maybe that's for next year's announcement only.

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Deano

Disenchanted, you say you have a 7-year-old iMac, and you're calling me "pathetic?" What does your iMac have, a G3? And you think the new iMac's Dual 2 Core is not good enough? Who's delusional? I agree with you that the new iMac could have been better in many ways, and I want the same things you want in a new iMac or laptop. But Apple designs their products for a purpose. Their computers are not perfect, but which one is? Macs are as close to perfect as you'll ever find. I may be poor, but I don't go looking for excuses and reasons to be negative. PC users are that way, however ;) Go to your nearest Apple Store or CompUSA and try it out. The Core 2 Dual processors are amazingly fast. I'm sure you'll like it. iMacs are truly worth their cost ....

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Disenchanted

Yup, my iMac has lasted 7 years - a testament to iMac durablility and longevity. Shame that you didn't purchase me a new iMac every 2 years and spare me the ignominy of being frugal?

Let's hope that current "new" iMac owners will be able to replace their existing Core 2 Duos or Extreme processors with Penryn processors. That way everyone will only have to spend another $350 dollars for a "new" iMac. Wouldn't that be something?

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Drew

I've waited patiently for 6 months for the new iMac's to come out, as I'm looking to purchase a new family computer for home and switch back to the Mac platform!

While I would prefer to purchase a "headless" midrange Mac (which Apple still does not offer in its line up), I was set to purchase this new iMac when it came. I will be checking them out at the Apple store today!

One big concern however on the specs - I've used many different monitors the past 20 years, and know I don't like glare & reflections from the monitor. While this may not cause eyestrain/headache over time for all, it does for me (and many others it sounds like by looking at the message threads on the web). If there is glare, sadly this would be a SHOWSTOPPER for me at least.

For users making a decision between glossy & matte, its not how it looks after 15 minutes on the showroom floor, its how it looks in YOUR setting(s) after a period of time of moderate to heavy use. It also may depend on the type of things you do on the computer - looking at photos/movies vs. reading text for example. Some people may not be immediately conscious of the eyestrain it is causing them when their eyes constantly refocus when there is glare/reflections.

While I will try to be open minded as I enter the Apple store this afternoon, I have seen alot of images of the iMac screen on the web already, and almost all have shown reflections of such things as windows, light, and people in the room behind them. :(

Apple - consider offering a matte option also! And if you really want to be environmentally friendly, offer a mid-range “headless” Mac (and let people reuse their existing monitors if they wish)!

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muji

I too am disappointed at the amount of screen reflectivity and glare of the new iMacs. It was distracting and made viewing difficult--this was at the local Apple store, where you'd think the computers would be presented in their best light! This caused me to put my buying plans on hold.

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Scott

I have a 17-inch Powerbook G4 and found that I cannot run iMovie because it runs only on Intel and G5 Macs, according to Apple's systems requirements.

Would someone at Mac|Life find a G4 and test this out?

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Chris

I'm with you, Scott - bummed that iMovie 8 won't run on my machines. I knew it had to happen eventually - Intels driving out G4s, but I'm still saddened by it. I own two Macs and have owned Apple systems since 1984, but my budget for the next two years won't allow for a new machine. I'm glad these have lasted this long.

btw, I think I read a recent stat that the vast majority of Mac owners have still not made the leap to Intels. Am I right about that?

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Just_a_guy

Apparently my iMac bought valentines day of this year also has a gigibit eithernet port and a firewire 800 port as well as 3 USB 2.0 ports on the back. So why is Jobs stating that they are new to this new iMac?

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nathan

Leslie,

On the contrary, I'm the one that is being selfish. From a purely strategic point, the new streamlined iMovie really fits right into to what Apple seems to want to accomplish with iLife, wich is make it quick and painless to put this stuff together for people who aren't "pros." I have Final Cut Express at home (although as I mentioned, FCE will have to be upgraded), and for big projects at work I use Final Cut Pro. Its just that iMovie had gotten so good at doing certain things, I found it was often quicker and more painless to do smaller straight-forward projects in iMovie at both work and home. I can see exactly why they did what they did, I'm just venting my personal woes; I'll definetly miss old school iMovie. Its a shame they couldn't find a way to incorporate it all. It's nothing a shiny new imac won't cure.

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M@

Guess I've gotten spoiled... tough to have to pay $80 to make full use of my dot-mac membership.

M@

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Anonymous

pretty much tells me everything i need to know!

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Dirk Blink

About time to, a new keyboard. The one offered till now really did not meet industry standards. Clunky and key travel way too long (reminded me of a mechanical typewriter more than anything else).

Now for a better mouse. I use the (not so) mighty mouse because it has a bluetooth connection. But its tracking - so sloooowww! Even at the fastest setting.

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Leslie Ayers

I think I must be the only person in the world who likes the Mighty Mouse. The only problem I have is that it often can't distinguish between right clicks and left clicks. What is up with that?? ~Leslie

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nathan

the new imac is gorgeous, and I'm glad to see Apple moving away from all the white plastic. It seems time. I'll be buyng iwork 08 today, and I'm sure iLife 08 right behind it, but I'm nervous about the new imovie. I use iMovie quite a bit, and this new version while sporting some great scrubbing techniques, appears to be light on editing functions. Without a timeline view and seperate tracks for audio, syncing video edits to audio and doing more complicated audio/video edits seems impossible. Imovie had gotten so good at that stuff. Not to mention I was sort of a sucker for those cute predesigned templates in iMovie HD for some home stuff. Unless I'm completely missing something, it appears they've sacrificed a lot power for usablilty and speed here. Guess I'll fially be upgrading my underutilized Final Cut Express.

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Anonymous

Nathan, I'm totally with you on that one. The new iMovie does look very slick and easy to use, but I fear that it will be taking away a lot of power and control. Where's the Timeline view? And are the themes gone? I really liked the themes in iMovie '06 but felt they could have used some improvements; I was hoping iMovie '08 would improve on the themes and add some new ones, but I don't even see Themes on the new version. While this new version does look a heck of a lot easier to use, I'm afraid overall it will be a step backward, not forward, from the last version.

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Leslie Ayers

When you install iLife '08, iMovie HD stays intact on your Mac...so you can still use BOTH. When I asked the folks at Apple what happens when I open an iMovie HD project in iMovie '08, they said that the clips stay intact, and you can then go ahead and "re-edit" them in iMovie '08, if you want (or just have them in your clip library for future use in other projects). But, yes, the message here is that iMovie HD is an end-of-life product, and so if you're happy with it and like it, by all means continue to use it, but Apple doesn't plan to upgrade it. They started fresh with iMovie '08 (which is really more HD-capable than iMovie HD!).

As for the glossy screen...I'm in total agreement that a matte screen should be an option for the new iMac line. I'm worried about glare big time. We've already gotten some feedback from readers about it, and it can become a problem. Expect third parties to come out with (hopefully) elegant solutions for glare control.

~Leslie

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Glenn

I forgot to mention in my previous post that Apple has made iMovie HD 06 a free download for those of you who have new Macs with iLife '08 installed. Here is the link: http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/imovieHD6.html

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Glenn

Leslie: Yes, I noticed that on Gee Three's website (for those of you who don't know, Gee Three makes plugins for iMovie HD that add new transitions, titles, special effects, etc.) about how iMovie HD 6 will remain on your system even after you install '08. That's a relief, because I've invested a lot in Gee Three's plugins and I would hate to think that I would not be able to use them anymore with the new version. I'm glad I'll still be able to use the old version, but I'm still kind of disappointed that the new version is a complete redo rather than an enhancement of the old version. I understand their reason for doing it, to make it more user friendly for novices, but it seems like they are leaving a portion of their iMovie users in the cold by taking away some of those more advanced features. But that's just my opinion. I'm hoping maybe that iMovie '09 or '10 (whenever the next one comes out) will somehow find a way to merge the ease of use of the new iMovie with the power and detail of the old iMovie (reintroducing the Timeline view and advanced editing functions such as extracting audio, controlling volume, etc.). I guess we'll see.

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brownreese

I totally concur with you. I just purchased the new '08 so I need time to play around, but when I asked an Apple Associate new loves the new interface...but then he added he uses Adobe Premiere for his heavy lifting. Personally, I'm not sure why Apple's diva video tech couldn't assemble an iMovie using iMovie o6 ini 30 minutes... Except for the video import time, this is a piece of cake. So now we have dumbified iMovie. I'll keep using iMovie '06 and have already purchased the new version of Final Cut Express. Sigh.

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Leslie Ayers

I guess I was being selfish and looking at it from the point of view of someone who doesn't use iMovie a lot currently. My assumption was that anyone who really needs those pro-level features would step up to Final Cut Express...which sounds like perhaps that's your plan. Maybe that's Apple's ploy to increase the FCE user base...? ~Leslie

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Disenchanted

The black border around the monitor is plain ugly and it adds to the appearance of "wasted usable space". Remember OS 9 and the black borders of the old CRTs? I do and I think that the return of the black border is a terrible mistake and reminiscent of the ugliness I thought was long gone.

Only 800 MHz bus speed is a slap in the face, I expected 1.33 GHz for mid- and top-of-the-line models.

I doubt that the Intel Core 2 Extreme will be extremely helpful for me: an "average" home user. What softwares currently take advantage of this processor? Seriously, how much better will the Intel Core 2 Extreme be?

Looks like Apple just slapped some makeup (i.e. aluminum, glass, and larger HD's) on its aging iMac line and called her gorgeous (or at least cheaper). After 7 years wait to replace my old iMac I suppose that I’ll have to hold my nose and buy this new design and learn to live with it.

Observe the less than enthusiastic crowd from 07 August event. Poor Jobs was less the demigod and more the human laugh track and prompt screen rolled into one. Sad, just sad.

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Anonymous

get a life man!!!if you are that pissed off about the new imacs, then buy something else!!!!!! no one is forcing you to like the new imac or holding a gun to your head to make you purchase one.

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JB

Steve is that you?

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rloyola

Because of the all-in-one design and cooling needs, iMacs use Intel's mobile processors, not desktop processors. The iMac's 800MHz bus is part of Intel's specification for its Centrino mobile procesor technology. The 800MHz bus in the Core 2 Extreme model follows the spec for Intel's Core 2 Extreme mobile processor.

Apple isn't clocking down the bus speed. It's the spec of the mobile platform
that's needed for the iMac's all-in-one design. Intel's desktop Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor has a 1.33GHz bus speed, but it probably runs too hot for the iMac's design.

If you want 1.33GHz bus speeds in an iMac, you'll have to wait until 2009. The next generation of Intel's Centrino technology (code-named Montevina and scheduled to be released in 2008) will have a FSB of "only" 1GHz. I don't know anything of Intel's Centrino plans beyond 2008, but I'm guessing you won't see a 1.33GHz FSB in Centrino/iMac until 2009.

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Eideard

Haven't looked at any HDTV sets, lately, have you? The "black border" is becoming an industry standard simply because consumers feel it makes the whole screen appear larger.

As computers acquire more convergence from TV - I'm never surprised to see crossover design features. In case you didn't notice, the 24" iMacs are capable of true 1080p hi-def.

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Deano

Disenchanted, you're sad. You must actually be a PC lover masquerading as a Mac person. I've got news for you: You're extinct because PCs are NOT COOL. iMacs are cool, always have been, and this is the coolest, swiftest one of all. Go sleep in your wet blanket. You won't spoil this party -- it's taken off and left you to cry in the dungballs of the defeated.

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Disenchanted

Why "must" I be a PC user? What do you know that gives you the confidence to make the assetion that I am not a Mac user? What else do you know about me that you would like to share with the world?

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e money~

i dont know why everyones crying...
the new mic is SIIIIIICK!
i baught my imac around same time last year and imma wait a bit before i upgrade... but this new imac looks GANGSTER!!
i love that sh!t

black on silver... they need a black on black version too

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Anonymous

>> After 7 years wait to replace my old iMac I suppose that I’ll have to hold my nose and buy this new design and learn to live with it.

please, don't buy if you hate it so much. since when did you become the spokes person for the average user?

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Disenchanted

“please, don't buy (sic) if you hate it so much.”

I would rather not buy the new iMac as it is currently designed, but my present iMac is seven years old, is showing its age, and I think that a new computer really is more important overall than keeping my old iMac. I would buy a Mac Pro, but they cost too much and Mac Pros are too much computer for me as an average user who wants a consumer model Mac.

You might say, that buying the new iMac is like buying a ham and cheese sandwich when you’re really, really hungry, but really, really want a chicken club sandwich instead and you don’t really want to fork over the cash for a five star steak dinner.

Comprende?

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Carol

So--buy a laptop.

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Disenchanted

I would gladly purchase a notebook rather than the new iMac if the notebook:

1. Has a bus speed of 800 MHz or better.
2. Has a Core 2 Duo or Extreme or better processor.
3. Can support TWO 24-inch LCDs.
4. Has at least a 750GB internal HD.
5. And can do all this at cost only 10% greater than the iMac.

Well, where can get this notebook fantastico?

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Just_a_guy

I understand totally
I hope that this new iMac paves the way for other new Apple computers. That would be nice as I am going to get one as soon as 10.5 comes out.

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Disenchanted

The brain trust at Apple considers those who purchase "consumer" products "average" Mac users, and have classified iMac as "consumer" models. I am not the “spokesperson for the average user” as you have incorrectly assumed or inferred, I am quoting Apple’s own words and highlighting Apple’s own business practice.

Therefore, according to Apple’s own criteria iMac users are “average” users. In contrast, Apple considers Mac Pros as the "professional’s" choice. Comprende?

Still, I expected the iMacs to have more than just a singular bus speed, especially for the “Extreme” model and perhaps one 24-inch iMac model without the “Extreme” processor. And the black border around the monitor is still ugly on any Mac whether it be a “consumer” Mac for the “average” user or a “professional” Mac for the non-average user.

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Leslie Ayers

You might learn to love your new iMac more than you think you will. The Core 2 Duo processor will surprise you, although you're right that some apps will lag (like MS Office). But the Adobe CS3 suite is on fire on an Intel Mac, and there are more and more Universal apps out that are taking advantage of Intel Macs. I sort of agreed with you about the black border around the display--at first. But then I saw it up close, and well, it really does make a difference. Our photos from the press event don't really do it justice. I'm more worried about the glossy finish, to be honest. I get a lot of glare in my office (even though we have blinds, but our office is the room that the real estate agent called the "sun room" when she was trying to sell us the house).

Also, to your point about the cool reception Steve got at the event yesterday: Everyone in the room was a journalist, and journalists don't really do enthusiasm (although there was some clapping at the end of each hands-on demo for iLife and iWork apps). You have to remember that the Mac Expo and WWDC keynotes are always well-stocked with Apple fans (probably friends and family of Steve, Phil, Tim et al), usually in much greater numbers than media. ~Leslie

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Anonymous

I'm really excited! My family's planning to buy this new iMac as soon as Leopard comes out!

I can't wait to play with the new iMovie.

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Al

Great new additions to an already industry leading line up. This should bring people over to the Mac even faster. The PC just can't compete with Apple. Style, elegance and fast. Now that's what computers are supposed to be. Not endless searches for drivers and blue screens of death!

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