New iMac, Still New to Me

New iMacs

Update: Turns out Best Buy, where we bought the iMac, doesn’t have the new models in stock yet, but to make room in their inventory, they’ve lowered the prices on the remaining ones by $400.

They were nice enough to honor the new price and refund the difference. Win-win, since I wasn’t all that excited about a data transfer. W00t!

So, you may have heard that Apple dropped a bunch of updates to their product catalog today, along with software updates.

Among the updates were upgrades to the iMac line.

Not that noteworthy, unless you just bought an iMac last week like I did. Funny stuff, right?

I’m actually not that bummed; a little, but not too much, considering. This was a replacement for my wife’s XP machine, which I had been nursing along for nearly ten years, adding disk, RAM and a DVD player to keep it functional. She had lent her Macbook to a friend (I know, gasp) and was forced to use that old beast without any escaping to a faster computer.

Speed is her main requirement (and annoyance); this means the Internet, installed programs, everything. This means keeping a lot of moving parts, moving quickly, which was becoming increasingly tough with the old XP box. So, rather than have me rebuild it overnight, we decided to break down and buy a new machine entirely. For her, instant gratification and instant ability to get work done.

The decision was to go Mac over PC because, well, I don’t feel like supporting it, and we like the unibody design of the iMac over the standard cable mess of disparate pieces. Plus, she already has a Macbook, so it’s not a jump into the deep end.

I should have tipped when Best Buy said they had no 20″ iMacs in stock, in any local stores, but knowing how secretive Apple is, I wonder if even the Apple Store employees knew the new models were less than a week from dropping. We settled on the 24″ model that used to be the third in the lineup; based on the new specs, it’s probably closer to first, slightly more beefy than the low-end 20″ model in the new lineup. Grr.

Still, she loves it to death so far (it’s so fast), and the cinema display is so bright, when I walk away from it, I see spots.

Rather than trying to explain virtualization, I just installed Virtual Box and installed an XP VM. That VM runs about twice as fast as the old native installation of XP did. Sure, not an apples-to-apples comparison, but pretty impressive. The fan is really quiet too; one thing that bugs me about the Macbook is its loud fan. If you’ve held one of those in your lap, you’ll know why. It gets crazy hot after a while, not an ideal thing to keep in your lap.

So, until today, everybody was happy. New computer for the wife, less support agony for me. Win-win.

Of course, now we’ve fallen victim to buying the outgoing model year, which is inevitable, but usually doesn’t happen withing the same week.

I also violated one of my rules by buying the unibody design. I can’t crack it open to do upgrades to keep from buying new gear every couple years. Maybe I can, but it won’t be easy. Maybe I’m wrong.

Then, there’s the dilemma of what to do with the old dinosaur. I had thought it would make good network-attached storage, but aside from the slow processor, it only has about 80 GB of disk space, which is puny compared to the 250 GB I just put in my Macbook, 300 GB in the iMac or the 1 TB backup drive I bought for Time Machine on the iMac.

Wow did I feel old buying a 1 TB disk about the size of a pocket dictionary for less than $200. I remember when Oracle DB broke the 1 TB barrier for database storage. That doesn’t seem that long ago. Cue the nostalgic music and prepare your grouchy “I remember when” stories for the comments.

Anyway, I’ll probably end up reimaging it as an experimental box for Jaunty Jackalop (9.04) or some other O/S, or maybe I’ll give it to the neighbors, keeping the monitor, natch. You can never have too many displays.

So, there’s a lot here, meandering as always. What are your thoughts on any/all of the following:

  • New iMacs and updates to Apple’s products
  • Old iMacs, Macs in general
  • Mac vs. PC, always welcome here 🙂
  • Supporting users who want everything “faster”
  • Keeping up with current technology and getting out-moded
  • Repurposing old gear
  • A 1 TB drive for less than $200
  • Having an experimental machine for hobby O/S

Find the comments and let us know.




  1. I confess, I'm a sucker for bullet points…

    * Mac. All the way. With renewed vigor, after spending a portion of my day rdesktop'd into a Win2k3 server. 😛 They had me at vs. cmd.exe (or even cygwin).
    * I try really, really hard to avoid looking at new product line announcements until I'm actually ready to buy something. Buyer's remorse is rarely more than 6 months away, otherwise. Though a one-week obsolescence has a bit of an “ouch” factor that I've not yet experienced.
    * 1TB < $200 is putting serious stress on my rationalization suppression skills. Feels like not long ago that getting a rack of 4GB drives for a fridge-sized server in the data center was the new hotness.
    * People less fortunate than myself can make better use of my old gear. Local computer recyclers (Goodwill, here) FTW.
    * Continuing in that vein, MBP + 4GB RAM + VMware Fusion means my hobby OS goes with me, not on a dusty, noisy space heater under my desk. Though I'll admit some of the larger hobby disk images stay at home on the external drive (ugh, there goes that 1-TB rationalization again…)


    John P.

  2. Me too, bullet points are the new black.
    –I have a love-hate with Apple.
    –Like I said, it's still new to me. Plus, I'm way more of an instant gratification type.
    –I know, right. I remember those days; it was sweet when I got a 1 GB disk on my 550 Toshiba Tecra running NT 4.
    –You are correct. We have Free Geek here, and I have a bunch of stuff to give them.
    –Yeah, we were OraTweeting about that today. VMs rule. The best way to run Mac/Linux sometimes is to have a Windows VM handy.

  3. Bought my iMac late last year when the iMac update rumors were floating around the 'tubes. I'm happy with what I have…figured my hardware would be “old hat” within six months, but still plenty good enough for me. Now that the updates have been announced, I was right on both counts. Similar reasoning has me sticking with my 2G iPhone for at least another year. Bottom line: you'll got nuts trying to time the hardware market – buy what you need when you need it and be at peace with it.

    Apologies for the lack of bullets. This comment just did not play out as a list when I wrote it.

  4. Doesn't Apple have a policy that allows you to return the machine within 14 days or so (or even a month when a new model comes out…)? If so, you could just swap yours out for one of the newer ones.

  5. I'm with you. I also will hold on to my OG iPhone until I feel it's fully amortized. I usually don't sweat updates, unless they happen days after I buy. Maybe Frederic is right, and I can swap. I'm not holding my breath though.

  6. Are you speaking from experience? Did you read that somewhere? That would rule, with the exception of the data transfer and configuration hassle. Worth it though.

    I may call over to the Apple Store and rant 🙂

  7. You are correct, sir! Apple does have a 14-day return policy that entitles you to an upgraded model (same value, natch) if your new purchase has been out-moded. They'll transfer your data too, and I assume wipe the old machine.

    Of course, they also charge a 10% restocking fee, which is a downer. I bought this iMac at Best Buy, and they said they will honor the Apple policy. I'm hoping they skip the restock fee, plus I'll need to stand there and watch them reimage the old one.

    Now, it's a time constraint issue.

    Excellent protip. Many thanks.

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