Apple's All-in-One iMac DV

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Since the iMac created such a stir in the consumer world, we wanted to see how the new digital video version would perform in the educational arena. Our iMac DV came with a 400 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64MB SDRAM, ATI RAGE 2D/3D graphics card, 10GB hard disk drive, DVD-ROM drive, 56K V.90 modem, built-in 10/100BASE-T Ethernet connection, two FireWire high-speed peripheral ports, 2 USB ports and a VGA video out port for connecting another monitor for class presentations.

Since the iMac created such a stir in the consumer world, we wanted to see how the new digital video version would perform in the educational arena. Our iMac DV came with a 400 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64MB SDRAM, ATI RAGE 2D/3D graphics card, 10GB hard disk drive, DVD-ROM drive, 56K V.90 modem, built-in 10/100BASE-T Ethernet connection, two FireWire high-speed peripheral ports, 2 USB ports and a VGA video out port for connecting another monitor for class presentations.

As you would expect, setting up the iMac was very simple, with no wires to plug in besides the power cord and keyboard/mouse USB cable. Using the iMac for daily functions such as word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, etc. was also a no-brainer, as Apple seems to have gotten the "user-friendly" thing down years ago.

We do have a few minor complaints about this version, though. For one, the Apple DVD Player software was a bit unstable, crashing the first two times we attempted to play a DVD movie disc. After the initial problems, the iMac would play DVDs, but the software was very slow to respond to commands, seeming to hang up at times. Also, as we’ve found with other PC-based DVD players, the video can be a bit choppy at times, and tends to get out of sync with the audio track. When using regular CD-ROMs, however, we experienced no problems of any kind.

Another annoyance is Apple’s infernal round-shaped mouse. After more than a month’s use, we still aren’t used to it, and find the mouse pointer very difficult to control. The problem is that, when you place your hand on the mouse, there are no intuitive ergonomic cutouts for your fingers and palm to intuitively "fall" into. So, you invariably wind up placing your hand on the mouse in the wrong position, which causes the pointer to go sideways when you meant for it to go up, for example. Yes, this is something that’s easily fixable by buying another mouse, but it seems like a gross oversight for Apple, who prides themselves on being the ergonomic leaders in personal computers.

Is the iMac DV suited for classroom use? Yes and no. We think it’s an ideal tool for instructors to use as their personal computer in their office, linked to the school’s intranet. It could also be used to create quality presentations via its built-in digital video capabilities and its VGA video out port. However, it’s not really designed for use in computer labs or multi-PC networked classrooms. In those instances, a modular, easily-upgradeable PC is desirable.

All iMac models come standard with an impressive array of software titles. Most models can be "personalized" at the factory. Visit Apple’s Web site for a complete listing of available options.

—William Willis

wwillis@thejournal.com

 

 Apple Computer, Inc.
Cupertino, CA
(800) 538-9696
www.apple.com

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.

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