capsule review

1GHz iMac G4, 17-inch

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At a Glance
  • Apple 17-Inch iMac G4/1GHz

The iMac G4 just keeps getting better -- the latest addition to the iMac G4 line is a $1,799 model that is armed with several welcome new features.

There are now just two iMac models. At the low end is the $1,299, 15-inch, 800MHz iMac. At the high end is this model, which sports a wide, bright, 17-inch screen with a maximum resolution of 1,440 by 900 pixels.

The 17-inch display seems remarkably large, although it appears to be almost weightless. But the improvements to this model are largely inside. The most obvious boost is to its G4 processor, which runs at 1GHz. This iMac also has a 133MHz system bus (an improvement on the 15-inch model's 100MHz bus). Memory is even faster, because the new iMac uses 256MB of PC2100 DDR RAM, which can transfer data at twice the speed of the system bus.

The result: this iMac is the fastest Mac for non-pros yet, though it did run notably slower than a current Power Mac G4 that was also powered by a single 1GHz processor.

It's the first iMac to support Apple's AirPort Extreme wireless card, which can transfer data much faster between local Macs than the original Air-Port technology. For short-range networking and communication with devices such as cellular phones, you can optionally equip this iMac with a $50 internal Bluetooth module.

The education crowd will especially appreciate two new additions. This iMac offers an audio-in jack, a feature gradually returning to much of the Mac product line after a few years' absence. And while the previous iMac models supported video mirroring to an external VGA display, this iMac also supports mirroring to composite devices (such as TVs and VCRs) via a separately available $19 S-Video and RCA display adapter.

Apple has improved several other areas of the iMac's feature set as a part of this update: an 80GB hard drive is now standard, the iMac's SuperDrive now burns at a maximum 4x speed (as opposed to 1x in earlier models), and an Nvidia GeForce 4 MX video card with 64MB of DDR SDRAM powers the display.

Macworld's Buying Advice

The speed and power of this new iMac are remarkable, especially given its big LCD monitor and $1,799 price. Hobbyists who want to use Apple's iLife suite of applications won't find a more suitable Mac, and even some budget-conscious video and audio pros will look at this new iMac and consider it worthy of their affections.

At a Glance
  • This update to the 15-inch iMac features a faster processor, faster RAM, a better video card, and the addition of USB 2.0.


    • Support for AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth
    • Bright, big, adjustable screen
    • Speedy performance


    • None significant
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