Apple’s IMac G5 worth the price

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The arrival of Apple Computer’s IMac G5 raises the question: How much better can a computer get? In the case of the IMac, the answer is, substantially better, in ways large and small.

In a world in which you can get a very good Windows-based computer and flat-panel display for less than half the $2,152 price tag of the (very well-equipped) 20-inch IMac G5 sent for review, why shell out the extra money for the Apple logo and operating system?

Well, the Apple logo and operating system are themselves compelling reasons: Apple Computer is known for building very good computer systems, ones that are high in “initial quality” and that last in the long term. And Mac OS X, now in its “Panther” incarnation, is a rock-solid operating system that doesn’t crash.

Both things are worth a premium. But the stylish appearance of the IMac G5 is another plus. This striking design may impress you, or it may not. However, the system’s performance and technical accomplishment in loading the “guts” of the PC so stylishly behind the display likely will soften even the hardest of computing hearts.

For example, the SuperDrive, which records and reads DVD and CD discs, is positioned on the right side of the monitor. Also on the right rear are a string of ports for USB, FireWire and other connections. All are good moves on Apple’s part.

So, too, is Apple’s push to get users to buy a wireless keyboard and mouse with their new IMac G5s, and not just any such wireless duo, but Apple’s Bluetooth pair. Using the Bluetooth technology, the keyboard and mouse transmit signals to a pre-installed transmitter in the computer/monitor, keeping at least two wires off of one’s desk.

The 20-inch display on the unit I tested is, of course, sharp and clear, and easy to look at for extended periods — as is Apple’s stand-alone 20-inch display. What’s nice is that it pivots on the included display stand, and does so easily. Repositioning the monitor for easy viewing is free of hassles.

Setup of the IMac G5 is the easiest this reviewer has encountered with a Macintosh system, or any other computer, for that matter.

It’s a true plug-and-play device: Attach the power cord, install the (supplied) “AA” batteries for the wireless mouse and keyboard, press the rear-mounted power button, and you are up and running. If you have, as I do, an AirPort Extreme 802.11g wireless base station, the computer will find it and log on quickly. If Ethernet or a dial-up modem are your preferred means of connecting, the computer has ports for those connections, too.

This top-end model is equipped with a 160-gigabyte hard disk drive, eight times the “standard” drive on the old Mac Cubes of a couple of years back. Apple will sell you a 250-gigabyte hard disk instead, if you so desire. My test unit came with 512 megabytes of RAM, which seems to me (and other reviewers) what should be the standard instead of the 256-megabyte one Apple advertises.

The extra RAM, plus installation of an AirPort Extreme wireless networking card and a Bluetooth module, as well as the Apple wireless keyboard/mouse combo, push the $1899 “base” price of the 20-inch IMac G5 to $2,152. But all that expense will give you a very good machine that should offer dependable service and a great computing experience.

E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit http://www.kellner.us.

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