First Impressions from the New Intel iMac

Tuesday, January 17, 2006, at 06:07AM

By Eric Richardson

Like I mentioned on Friday, I picked up one of the new Intel-chipped iMacs for work. Between playing around Friday afternoon and this morning, I think I can give some early opinions.

Bullet points: Big, bright screen. Silent. The universal binary movement is going to be interesting to watch.

I hadn't seen recent iMacs, but I've read that the external asthetics are the same as the newest of the G5 based ones. In any case, it's a good-looking machine. The one I have is the 20" model, which means a 1680x1050 display. There's also a mini-DVI connector on the back to hook up a second monitor. The display's super-bright and clear.

Working in an office, there's a decent amount of ambient sound from other computers. Given that, I haven't yet heard the iMac, even when I lean in and get close. It may not be utterly silent, but it's quiet enough that I can't make anything out.

I haven't used any of the iLife applications, and I doubt I will any time soon. It's a work machine, so I really don't care all too much there.

When I first downloaded a PPC version of Firefox and ran it under Rosetta (the emulator mode) it felt sluggish. There isn't a universal binary build of Firefox available from the main site, though there should be soon. Safari is universal, though, and it feels pretty snappy. Other than the DOM inspector, I don't have a lot invested in the Firefox vs. Safari vs. Camino debate on the Mac, so I'm fine using Safari for now (and it has a DOM inspector coming).

The big question is when Adobe/Macromedia is going to release universal or Intel binaries for their big applications. I haven't done a lot of Flash work under Rosetta yet, but the little I have made it feel very usable, but not as snappy as I'd like. If it's a month before Macrodobe puts out a universal Flash, I'm happy. If it's three, I'm less so.

After having spent a bulk of Sunday afternoon desperately fighting Debian trying to downgrade to XFree86 instead of, the ease of the Mac is a fun change. Would I switch my home machine? Probably not. If Kathy were buying a computer would I recommend one to her? Absolutely.