The iMac G5

by Mike Shea on 2 September 2004

Don Norman talks about the way computers should be in his book, The Invisible Computer. He discusses how computers should fade into the background and do only the jobs they are designed to do. We are cursed with bloated hardware, buggy software, and industrial designs that seem to go directly against good taste and simplicity.

The new iMac G5 is the type of computer Don Norman speaks of. It's physical design is about as simple as it can get. The monitor, CPU, and drives are all built into one thin plate. The monitor, keyboard, and mouse are all you need. I've seen thin clients with bigger CPUs than this.

The iMac is designed to do what it needs to do. We like to talk about computers as if we can do anything with them but in my world all I really need a computer for is writing, surfing the web, watching movies, listening to music, and screwing around with pictures. I don't want to mess around with operating systems. I don't want to debug my registry. I don't want to have to modify bios settings to make sure my AGP 8x card is being used properly.

fades into the background, working when you need it and slipping away when you don't. It is the slickest computer I've ever seen and if I didn't have three already, I'd buy it in a second as a secondary machine.

There is only one feature that I use regularly that push PCs up above Macs and that's gaming. Everquest on a Mac is woefully unsupported right now. You have to play on a different server and you don't have any of the expansions that EQ-PC has. When I design new machines, like the one I type this on now, they are almost entirely designed around Everquest. My secondary machine is the machine that handles everything else: movies, music, web surfing, and other applications. For a secondary non-gamer box, I can't see any reason not to use an iMac instead except one. Price.

The biggest problem with the iMac is the $1400 price tag. I can buy a $400 machine at Walmart that can do many of the same tasks. I can build a high-end gaming PC for about $1400. It won't look near as slick, although my Shuttle SB75 case is a far cry from those clunky boxes I'm used to.

I love my iPod and apparently so does everyone else. It is a better example of a silent computer that does one job - plays audio stuff - and does it very well and with little hassle. It has more power than my first college computer but I couldn't tell you anything about its ram or processor or operating system. It just works.

is like the iPod. Though its tasks slip wider than just music, it keeps a simple design and simple engineering. For a secondary non-gaming box, I would buy one in a second.