My Intel iMac: First Impressions

I’ve had an Intel-based iMac for a few days. It was purchased so that we (Audio Damage) could start dealing with the massive amount of work foisted upon us by Apple’s change. We weren’t planning to buy machines this early, partly because the last three first-generation Macs I’ve purchased have all turned out to have rather serious design and/or implementation flaws, but things are moving a little more quickly than we expected and we didn’t want to get left behind.

Overall it’s a pretty nice computer. It’s fast, it’s very quiet, its LCD is almost as good as my Samsung LCDs, and the built-in video camera is handy for making faces at Chris while we work. Rosetta seems to handle pre-Intel software with mixed success. I’ve really only tried Firefox and a couple of other little things, but Firefox definitely feels sluggish in an odd way. Fortunately there’s a Universal Binary of it slated for release in March.

On the down side, there are a couple of things that are really annoying, and they’re classic examples of Apple designing something to look nice rather than function well. The first issue is that the aluminum pedestal isn’t rigid enough. When I’m typing rapidly (and I’m a pretty fast typist, admittedly), the whole thing bounces up and down slightly. This is very annoying because it means that the text bounces up and down as I write it. I think if I were to try to write anything longer than a few paragraphs at a stretch, it would make me seasick. I’m going to try shoving a box or something under the lower edge of the case to ameliorate this.

The other problem is the Mighty Mouse. There are so many problems with this thing I probably won’t think of them all as I write this, but here’s a start:

  • Bad shape. It doesn’t particularly fit my hand, anyway.
  • The scroll ball is a little too small and delicate.
  • The software is stupid. Apple says that you can “assign other functions to buttons as you wish” but by “functions” they mean perform a limited number of window operations and open files. What I want to be able to do is copy and paste with button gestures. I’ve been able to do that for at least five years with Microsoft mice, so it’s not exactly a new idea.
  • If you pick up the mouse in mid-movement because you run out of mousing room, you have to hold it by the little pads on the side. This inevitably means that I activate the “squeeze” button, which is usually not what I want to do.
  • Similarly, if you pick up the mouse in mid-drag (that is, when you’re holding the button down while moving), and forget to hold the little side pads because you’re trying to avoid the aforementioned squeeze problem, you can’t keep holding the button down because the button is not mechanically separate from the rest of the body. This means that you drop whatever you’re dragging; e.g., you might drop a file in the wrong place, or let go of a rubberbanded tool in Illustrator.

The thing is a joke, in short. I’m admittedly fussy about input devices, but this mouse stinks. I’m replacing it with a Microsoft mouse ASAP. Apple could really learn a thing or three by spending some time looking at their competition’s products rather than dreaming up more elegant-looking lumps of white plastic.

I’ll post more impressions as they come to me.

By adam

Go ahead, try to summarize yourself in a sentence or two.

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