Two Months With iMac Prime

The 27” iMac 5K is unquestionably the best computer I’ve ever owned. After two months of daily use, for twelve to fourteen hours per day, I can say without reservation that this machine is fantastic. Obviously, I’m late to the bandwagon on this, better reviews than what I would write have already been written, and although those reviews are from 2014, they hold up well enough for the 2017 upgrade too. The screen is beautiful, like a massive glossy magazine. The machine is fast enough so I nearly never have to wait. Basically, it’s everything I need from a computer.

What I Love

Having a desktop computer that is always on has benefits. My mail rules always sort my inbox. I have SuperDuper! setup to automatically clone my internal drive every weekday after Energy Saver wakes it up. The internal SSD is big enough that I’ve got all of my data downloaded and stored locally.

The iMac survived The Great Port Purge so far. So on the back of my screen I’ve got all the connections I need, including four standard USB ports and an SD Card slot for my camera. Three of the USB ports are taken up by my ScanSnap scanner, my time machine backup drive, and the SuperDuper! clone drive. The fourth is open for when I need to charge an accessory.

The two drives are held up by a Twelve South Backpack so they are out of the way and I don’t have to see any cable mess. That keeps my desk clean and my fussy mind focused.

In many ways I feel like the iMac is the last computer that Apple is shipping that’s not compromised to the point of suffering usability, reliability, or both.

The latest Magic Keyboard is great. Like others who’ve become accustomed to the new style of keyboards, every other kind of keyboard now feels like a mushy mess to me. This new one is crisp and precise.

What Could Be Better

Using the Magic Trackpad 2 is not the same as using the trackpad on a MacBook. I’ve had a hard time dragging things from one spot to another, like if I want to drag something from my desktop to a folder. I’ll click with one finger, then start dragging with another, and for some reason sometimes that drag just doesn’t happen. This might be a combination of a new Mac and a new operating system, it might be because I haven’t gotten the feel for it yet, but whatever the problem, it’s been frustrating.

The screen is so big that it takes more than one operation to move a file from one spot to another. That sounds like the firstiest of first-world problems, but it’s a real enough issue that I broke out my old mouse at one point. I’m still getting used to the trackpad, but so far my opinion of it has not been high. Perhaps it will improve with use. The multitouch gestures like five-finger swipe to show the desktop work well on the large trackpad, where the MacBook trackpad was always too small, and swiping from the edge to show the Notification Center works well, as does swiping to go back and forward in Safari. It’s a mixed bag.

This Saturday I’m packing up the iMac and bringing it to the Apple Store for repairs. I found a big, ugly, dead pixel center-right of the screen. When it’s up against a white background, like this text editor, it looks like a speck of dirt and I feel like I should wipe it off. But, it doesn’t go anywhere. So, although I’m loath to have anyone crack the seal on the Mac, I can’t go though the next several years staring at this dot.

Recommendations

If you, like me, spend a significant amount of time in front of a computer, I can’t recommend the iMac highly enough. It’s a beautiful work of art, designed to live in your home or office, and it’s also a powerful workhorse that can keep up with the most demanding tasks. It’s hard for me to recommend any other Mac in the Apple lineup right now to anyone but early adopters or those with enough technical savvy to work around the MacBook and MacBook Pro limitations. I’m hoping in another revision they’ll have some of the issues with the keyboard worked out, and maybe even throw in an extra port or two1. For me, this iMac is exactly what I need.

  1. Not likely.