The M1 iMac finally makes sense [REVIEW]
The new Apple M1 iMac is a remarkable desktop computer, and for the first-time, buying an iMac actually makes sense to me.
I have been an un-loyal Apple diehard for over 15 years. I say un-loyal because every five years I always make sure to buy other products (Microsoft, Android etc.) so I don’t personally feel like Tim Cook’s little puppet. However there is no denying it, I’m definitely his puppet.
I end up buying everything Tim Cook shows at a keynote event. More than that, every time I declare my un-loyalty to Apple by switching to an Android phone, I always come crawling back. The Apple ecosystem can’t be beaten, and now that I’m so privacy focused there is not a better company servicing that need than Apple.
However, despite Apple knowing they can sell me pretty much anything, they’ve never been able to sell me an iMac. For years, my view has been that iMacs were pointless for two main reasons:
- It always seemed like a waste of a display. With an iMac, you’re throwing out a whole screen every time you change your computer
- Why wouldn’t you just use a laptop and have the option of portability? If you want a bigger screen, plug your laptop into one.
Both of those contributing factors meant that until the release of the M1 iMac, I’d never bought an iMac.
The iPad maturity makes the iMac attractive
Over the past two years the iPad hardware and software have become extremely powerful – this was even before they put the M1 chip in an iPad. As a result, my laptop hasn’t left my desk in years. Pre-Covid, I often travelled for weeks at a time, taking only my iPad to work from.
The iPad has instant internet (via SIM card), is lighter than a laptop, and you can keep it in your bag when going through customs at most airports. As I’m not a creator – I don’t use video, audio or photo editing software – the iPad includes everything I need. Travelling with a laptop offered very little upside.
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So, portability is no longer a need for me, hence I could apply zero-based thinking when it came to choosing the best desktop solution.
The ultimate desktop computer
After identifying that I no longer need a laptop, my options are either;
- Buy a Mac Mini and plug into a display
- Buy an iMac
Here’s why I chose the purple M1 iMac.
1. The 24 inch iMac Display
The display is beautiful. The 4.5K resolution screen is super crisp and very bright for a non-professional monitor. You have to pay a significant sum to get a display as good as this on its own; and as it turns out, I upgrade my display every five years or so anyway and was due for both a new display and computer.
The fact that this display was so brilliant at such a cheap price made the iMac purchase a no-brainer on its own for this upgrade cycle.
2. The inbuilt Camera
The 1080p FaceTime HD camera in a remote work world is a huge asset. Apple rightfully prioritised the camera in the iMac – a great marketing move. Almost every person I had a video call with during the first week of running the iMac mentioned how clear my camera was.
Each time someone talks about how good my camera is, I end up talking about how good the new M1 iMac is. Genius.
3. iMac Speakers
I listen to audio in 5 ways:
- Vinyl record player
- In my car
- Directly on whatever device I’m using
- Through headphones
- Through my studio monitors whenever I need to listen to a proper mix/master from an artist I am working with
Rarely do I plug into Bluetooth speakers because I hate Bluetooth technology. It’s always a pain in the arse to connect to and disconnect from, so the the in-built speakers on any device I buy are paramount in the purchases I make.
Simply put, the speakers in the iMac sound great. iFixit revealed in their teardown that the new iMac’s speaker system includes two tiny metal chambers. Although “impossibly thin,” they have a large surface area that translates to more internal volume.
In short, the fact music sounds so good coming from those thin spears is just really impressive.
4. The Design
According to a lot of tech reviewers, the design of the M1 iMac is controversial. Mainly people don’t like the big chin at the bottom (which I actually like) and the white bezels.
At first I thought the white bezels were a bad design choice, however the more I used the iMac the more it turned from a compromise to a preference for me. The white bezels blend perfectly into the wall of my house, and make it a softer transition between the screen and the purple colouring of the iMac.
The iMac design, at least to my tastes, is a work of art.
5. A fully specked out M1 iMac
I went all out. I got the top spec at almost every option including Apple Care and the cost came to just over $3.4k (business price). I imagine when Apple release the 16 inch MacBook Pro the equivalent spec will come in well over $6k, so this is great value.
The reason I get the full 2TB +16GB of memory is for two main reasons:
- I only upgrade my computers every four-five years so paying a bit extra gives my computer a longer shelf life at full performance with every software upgrade.
- Even though I don’t do much creative work (the most I do is record a podcast which is why I need the 2TB), I hate the wheel of death so much that even if I only see it once a week it’s too much. The full spec is the only option for me.
Speaking specifically about the M1 though, wow, this thing is FAST. Opening an app on the iMac feels like opening an app on the iPhone.
6. Touch ID keyboard
I loved Touch ID on the laptop, but I hated using it when it was plugged into a monitor as my laptop was always sat an arm’s length away from my monitor and keyboard. This meant whenever I needed to log into anything I had to awkwardly reach over to my laptop at the end of the desk to put my finger on the Touch ID.
Having Touch ID directly on the iMac keyboard changed the experience for me entirely, logging in anywhere online is a dream and another big win for the Apple ecosystem.
Should you buy an M1 iMac?
If portability is important to you or you already have a very good external display then iMac’s don’t make sense. However if you’re like me and the iPad is good enough to be your main driver when you’re out of the office, and you don’t already have a great display, then the M1 iMac is the best solution for your desk.
No regrets, love the purchase. Well done Apple.