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2021 iMac – Aluminum Is The New Beige

In 1998 actor Jeff Goldblum graced our screens and decried “beige, it’s like oatmeal”, claiming designers had been in thinking jail! Well, now it’s 2021 and now aluminum is on the block! The 2021 iMac has seemingly proclaimed aluminum is the new beige!

2021 imac


2021 iMac Is A Welcome Refresh

Aluminum is a beautiful material, universal in its class and aesthetic. But we’ve had bare aluminuminuminumminum since 2007… enough time for a fashion trend to return. On May 20th Apple kinda, sorta repeated history with the introduction of the new 2021 iMac; an incredibly thin and surprisingly colourful design that basically punted bare aluminum into the recycling bin. For those old enough to remember, Apple did this in 1998 to beige box PCs with the incredible translucent Bondi Blue iMac.

The new iMac is more reminiscent of the 1999 version of iMac in its 5 tasty flavours, but with 21,000 times the performance! The beautiful new enclosure is thinner than the original iPad at 11.5mm and comes in tri-tone green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and old-fashioned silver. The back is the brightest, with the sides, front chin, and stand being a lighter tint of the same colour. The screen has a questionably white border, surrounding an amazing 23.5″ retina display featuring 500 nits of brightness, Wide-Colour, and True Tone technologies. Because there is physically not enough room in the body for a power supply, a colour-matched, braided, magnetically-connected power cord is included, featuring an external brick that has a gigabit Ethernet port.

That iMac-defining chin is now missing the Apple Logo, relocated big and bold onto the back, and contains the incredibly tiny logo board. From a technician’s perspective, this is the most shocking change; gone are the full-sized desktop printed circuit board, replaced by a MacBook Pro style, laptop-sized, logic board. This board supports the incredible M1 processor which is the hallmark feature of this new design. Similar to the M1 MacBook Pro, this is configurable with 8GB or 16GB unified RAM, and 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD storage. The system features two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and two USB 3 ports.

The front-facing camera is an M1 supported 1080p FaceTime HD paired with 3 studio-quality mics featuring beamforming technology that should make video conferencing beautiful and clear. A new 6 speaker system has twin force cancelling woofers that reduce vibrations, paired with bright tweeters producing Dolby Atmos spatial audio.

2021 iMac insides

Can’t wait to tear one apart, hoping the screen is sturdy!!

Unicorn Colours But Not All Unicorn Magic

They may be pretty but they sure as hell ain’t perfect. First off, no 27-inch replacement so far, so that kept me out of the market right away. As powerful as the M1 is, most of us tech types were hoping for a beefed-up version, an M1X perhaps. I was hoping that M means Mobile, and we’d see a face-melting D1 processor or something. Time will tell.

The $1,600 entry-level 2021 iMac has been unfairly hobbled; Apple tore out a GPU core and robbed you of 2 of the ports! Because of this, most reviewers are recommending at least the next step up. On top of this, none of them have any USB-A ports or an SD card slot either. For whatever truly boneheaded reason, the new iMac does not have FaceID capability. They have introduced a colour-matched keyboard with TouchID for biometric security though … as an upgrade on the entry-level model and standard on all other models.

No FaceID, and no Wide-Angle camera like the new iPad Pro, which means the new iMac won’t support the fancy frame tracking technology called Center Stage … again, this is some extra calcified cranial decision making here.

Something Better Down The Pipe?

With this nice, but seemingly tepid update, the hope is the June World Wide Developers Conference will give us a One More Thing reveal of something with a little more oomph. The recently discontinued iMac Pro could be reintroduced and hopefully will include all the things I griped about here. Until then, this machine will more than likely sell like hotcakes and fill the needs of many, many users. I will be waiting a little longer until I upgrade my beasty though!

Any thoughts? Contact me!

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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