- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2007

It’s taken 25 years or thereabouts from the arrival of my first computer, a Sanyo MBC-1000, but I believe my search for the “perfect” desktop one is over.

The device sports a massive 24-inch liquid crystal display, big enough to make watching a video of the NBC-TV series “Law & Order” enjoyable.

There are 2 gigabytes of memory installed, a 500 gigabyte hard-disk drive, and a drive that will read and write DVD and CD discs. The sound quality of the built-in speakers is astonishingly good. This computer will run any of at least three operating systems, although its native OS is plenty suitable as is.

Oh, and did I mention the built-in video camera and microphone, which makes this computer great for video chats?

By now, savvy readers will have figured it out: This is an Intel-based Apple IMac. The 24-inch model starts at $1,999 retail, although the additions made to my test unit boost the retail price by $799, to a total of $2,748. At that price, this mother-of-all-IMacs is a hefty unit in the price department, but, frankly, you get what you pay for.

And what you get in this case is a sleek-looking, supercapable computer, which does just about everything you’d want from a powerful system, and does it well and quickly.

There have been large-screen IMacs before, so what elements make this model my very-nearly-perfect choice? The 2.33 gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo processor is one. Intel central processing units, after all, have long run Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and also run several flavors of the “open” operating system Linux.

That means this computer could run those systems in place of the Mac OS, or flip between Windows and Mac OS X using Apple’s Boot Camp.

Another is the superlarge screen. I’ve said it before: The bigger the screen, the better, at least for this user. As we boomers age, having a screen that can display type in superlarge sizes isn’t a bad thing. For others, having a screen that offers plenty of “real estate” for displaying and working with photos, audio or video clips, or graphic design items, is also a plus.

Third is the greater capacity this computer has for both RAM and hard-disc storage. You can go up to 3 gigabytes of RAM on this machine; the 2 gigabytes installed in this unit make for much faster work and Web browsing. A 500 gigabyte hard disc is tremendous, and you can go up to 750 gigabytes, enough to hold 90,000 copies of the King James version of the Bible, if my math is correct. That’s a lot of storage for most of us, including moms and dads who want to track a child’s life in high-definition video.

Fourth would be Apple’s decided edge in multimedia. I bought that “Law & Order” episode on Apple’s ITunes Store, price $1.99, and the playback on the IMac was great. Once the firm’s ITV device arrives, then such content can stream wirelessly from a Mac to another TV anywhere in the house. Doing these things with a PC is possible, but more complicated and chancy.

Yes, $2,748 is a lot to pay for a desktop computer. Yes, one can “get by” with less-expensive models; even IMacs are available for $999 in a 17-inch model. For those who need, or just want, something that’ll look good and work great for a good long while, however, it’s going to be tough to beat this 24-inch wonder — or even to come close.

• Read Mark Kellner’s Tech Blog at www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

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