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2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus PHEV Driver

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Spectre x360 13 2-in-1

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Kindle Oasis (2017) - The Perfect eBook reader

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Review: 21.5‑inch iMac with Retina 4K display

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

A 4K-capable iMac can also do double duty as an entertainment hub, for streaming video and watching live TV with the appropriate apps and devices.

While 4K and Ultra HD resolutions have long been pitched on TVs and projectors as the ideal home theatre experience, I’ve maintained the belief that the immersive nature of 4K resolution would best serve monitors and computer displays.

With the 4K 21.5-inch iMac and the 5K 27-inch iMac before it, Apple has made 4K technology a compelling feature for next generation computer displays and all-in-one PCs in a way that many TV manufacturers have failed to so for high-end 4K TV sets.

A 4K Display for the rest of us

Retina Displays and 4K and 5K technology really shine when you as the user is right up close the display. This is the best way to really drink in the visual immensity and the vast amount of detail presented on these ultra high-resolution displays.

TVs are usually at least 6 feet away from the viewer but an iMac on a desk will be closer than two feet, which means a more immersive experience. There’s also the question of content, for 4K TVs, the amount of 4K content is very limited. On Retina Displays, and 4K iMac, much of the content is upscaled automatically to better fit the display.

Video games, graphics, images and hirh-resolution graphics can be viewed in full resolution while leaving a lot of free space for other windows, sliders, control panels and marginalia.

The 21.5-inch iMac with a 4K Retina Display (CAD $1899.00), is a breakthrough product in the sense that it makes 4K available on a powerful and multifunctional all-in-one computer. Cheaper than many standalone 4K monitors, the 4K iMac future proofs the smaller all-in-one desktop which was once the entry level all-in-one Mac. While it doesn't sport the latest 6th generation Core processors from Intel, the 21.5-inch iMac has 5th gen 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz), 8GB is standard but this can be configured on the website for up to 16GB (preferable for graphic intesive tasks and any form of editing).

A 1 Terabyte hard drive is included although the faster 2 Terabyte Fusion Drive variant is likely the one most prosumer users should be looking at. 

In terms of build quality, the 4K iMac continues the multi-generation refinement that the venerable iMac line has seen. Even the packaging of this computer is nearly gapless with no wasted space. You quickly realize this when unpacking the computer and peripherals. Of course, getting everything back into the box as originally packed is almost like solving a puzzle.

Featuring the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse, the 4K iMac is truly wireless and relies on Bluetooth to access these peripherals. It is a pretty seamless and elegant solution even of the new Magic Mouse has received some flak for having an inconveniently placed bottom Lightning Connector (meaning you can’t use the mouse while it is upside down and charging).  

Out of the Box and running in under 10 minutes

It took me all of 10 minutes to get the iMac out of the box, fired up and connected to my home WI-Fi connection, it took less than an hour to get all my applications, email, accounts and files loaded into the iMac, which was pretty impressive.

I recently tried to do the same to a new Windows 10 Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop and it took me the greater part of a day to get everything working and set up (this is mostly because of Microsoft’s interminable software updates plus Lenovo’s rather quirky driver situation). Much of this time was spent getting rid of bloatware and apps that Lenovo included in the PC.

With the new iMac and OS X El Capitan, plus iCloud as a backup, you can have a fully working system in very little time. El Capitan worked great on my review iMac and I didn't experience any slowdowns when watching 4K video from YouTube or other sources. Looking at this 4096x2304 resolution display which also renders colours and textures accurately makes it hard to go back to standard HD displays or even smaller notebook displays, there's just so much more detail at your disposal.

Apple’s applications really shine on the iMac’s 4K display. This is true for graphics heavy applications as well as text based apps. Reading on any computer or tablet  display is usually a pain but once you get used to the smoothened text on the iMac, it is very much like reading text on glossy paper stock.

I’ve always had a preference for the smaller iMacs. My main workhorse for many years was a one of the lucite white iMacs which was eventually replaced by the aluminum versions we have had for almost ten years now. The 21-inch 4K iMac is ideal for any home office or as a studio Mac for editing photos, videos as well as creating graphics and images. It has a small footprint, an amazing display and the horsepower and connectivity required.

If I was in the market for a new all-in-one computer and was looking at a 21-inch iMac,  I would pony up the money for the 4K version, simply because it can accommodate a wider range of use as well last longer and have a better resale value. Even if 4K content isn’t really easily accessible today, having a canvas that can easily author and edit this high-bandwidth content is a no brainer.

More than just the family computer

A 4K-capable iMac can also do double duty as an entertainment hub, for streaming video and watching live TV with the appropriate apps and devices.

By upgrading various features and including the latest processors plus the stunning Retina Display and seamless display construction into what was once its most basic iMac, Apple has managed to make desktops and the iMac more compelling by bringing 4K technology into a more affordable and sensible platform.

Apple has also beaten many of its competitors in the PC all-in-one market to the punch and since Macs can now run Windows as well, the new iMacs really push the envelope in this PC’s cross platform potential.

With CES around the corner, I have little doubt that we will see a variety of 4K enabled PC’s announced in Las Vegas, yet these computers are months away from market release and while the iMac is currently available in stores and online.

The 21-inch iMac 4K is an indicator of how Apple hopes to standardize Retina Display and Ultra HD technology across all its product lines and may just be the first computer manufacturer to be able to pull this off at a price point that isn’t too exorbitant. Users who are fine without the 4k display and updated specs, still have a respectable range of 21-inc iMacs to choose from.

 Rating: 4.5 out of 5 

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