Tuesday, April 20, 2021

iMac 24-inch 2021

Apple (MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today introduced an all-new iMac featuring a much more compact and remarkably thin design, enabled by the M1 chip. The new iMac offers powerful performance in a design that’s just 11.5 millimeters thin, with a striking side profile that practically disappears. Available in an array of vibrant colors to match a user’s personal style and brighten any space, iMac features a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with 11.3 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness, and over a billion colors, delivering a brilliant and vivid viewing experience.

The new iMac also includes a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system — the best camera and audio ever in a Mac. Also, Touch ID comes to iMac for the first time[…]


To complete the simplified design, iMac comes with a new power connector that attaches magnetically and a beautifully woven 2-meter-long color-matched cable.

That would be even more useful on a notebook computer…

I’d like to see it in person, but I’m a bit skeptical of the white bezel. Everything else sounds pretty great, and there’s no longer a premium for the VESA models.

Many of the specifications are limited compared with the previous model:

So, presumably there will be a new iMac Pro sometime in the next year or so. Perhaps it will have a faster processor than the other M1 Macs. Ideally, for those of us with DTK coupons, this will be out before the end of the year, along with a 16-inch MacBook Pro and an external display.

Mitchel Broussard:

Alongside the brand new M1 iMac, Apple today revealed a collection of accessories for the desktop computer. The biggest product is a new version of the Magic Keyboard that includes support for Touch ID, providing quick access to macOS and even allowing users to switch profiles with the touch of their finger.

Alas, it has the bad arrow key layout, even though Apple already fixed this on its notebooks. I’m not sure whether it’s still bendy or suffers from the Bluetooth problems that forced me back to a wired keyboard.


Update (2021-04-20): Scott:

The ONE thing that I didn’t see, am not seeing, that I wanted, NEEDED to see with new iMacs is the ability to use the iMac as an external display over Type C.


Hot take: The iMac didn’t need to be thinner. The bezels (AND CHIN) needed to be reduced.

Update (2021-04-22): Marques Brownlee:

Fun fact: This new iMac is so thin (11.5mm) that it can’t fit a headphone jack on the back (typically 14mm deep) so they HAD to put it on the side.

Stephen Hackett:

The machine’s tiny logic board, two small fans and the improved speakers are all housed in that chin, with the 24-inch display sitting above these internals, not in front of them.

Jason Snell:

That power brick also cleverly includes an Ethernet jack, so that’s one fewer cable that needs to snake across your desk and attach to the back of your iMac. I love the idea, and hope Apple explores a bit more functionality in this brick in the future. If I could plug a couple of USB devices into a hidden power brick instead of having to route them up to the back of my iMac on my desk, I’d love it.

I’d also like Apple to consider making some sort of extension cable or offering a version of the cable in longer lengths; two meters seems like a long distance, but it won’t reach the floor if my adjustable sit-stand desk is in its standing configuration.


But my bigger disappointment with the iMac stand is that its height is not adjustable. These gorgeous iMacs are going to go out in the world, and then people are going to have to stick old ratty dictionaries and encyclopedias under them in order to get them up to the right height.

Joe Rossignol:

While the Touch ID sensor on the new Magic Keyboard is compatible with all M1 Macs, including the new iMac and last fall’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, MacRumors has confirmed with Apple that the Touch ID sensor will not function with the new iPad Pro, even though it also has an M1 chip.

Mr. Macintosh:

I know you have questions, and I’m here to answer them.

Update (2021-05-03): Riccardo Mori:

That’s why these three iMac tiers feel so contrived to me. It’s not an additive configuration model, where you start with a decent base machine (the good tier) and you add meaningful features to it to create the better tier machine, and then you add some more perks to end up offering the best tier machine. With the new iMac you have a subtractive configuration model: you start by what is essentially a reasonable configuration by 2021 standards — the most expensive $1,699 iMac — and then remove functionalities from it to offer two more lower tiers which do cost less, yes, but also leave you with a machine with the bare minimum of ports, performance, memory and storage — and neither of these latter features are upgradable down the road.

I realise that computers are de facto household appliances by now, but this trend towards devices with immutable innards once you pick a configuration at the time of purchase still feels annoying and ridiculous to me. Computers aren’t devices you replace every year. Your needs may change over time. If there’s something you constantly need more of as time goes by is storage space. Internal drives should always be upgradable.

John Gruber:

These new iMacs are just 11.5mm thick. How thin is that? Apple Watch Series 6 is 10.7mm thick. These new iMacs are less than 1mm thicker than a goddamned Apple Watch.


Making these new iMacs super thin is cool. It’s a statement. From the side they look like big 24-inch iPads. If you don’t think that’s cool and that cool is something Apple should aspire to in its design and engineering, I have no idea why you’re reading anything I write.

Update (2021-05-18): Jason Snell:

When the iMac began to slim down in the middle of the last decade, there was a lot of criticism about Apple having misplaced priorities. After all, the arguments went, it doesn’t matter how heavy or thick an iMac is if you’re just setting it down once and then staring at the screen the rest of the time.

There’s some truth in that, but it’s wrong to discount the importance of a thin, light adjustable iMac.


I should mention that the screen itself is “color matched” to the iMac, in a way: Apple has supplied background images for each iMac that match its color, and even the General pane of System Preferences is set by default to use an accent color that matches the iMac itself.


Just above the iMac’s screen is its camera, and while Apple is probably right when it says it’s the best camera ever in a Mac, this is faint praise.


Center Stage is a feature that actually makes more sense on the iMac than a light, mobile device like the iPad—and yet it’s missing in action. It’s a disappointing case of Apple’s different platforms being out of sync, and the iMac looks worse because of it.

See also: Joe Rossignol, John Voorhees.

Update (2021-05-19): Ryder Mackay:


defaults write -g NSColorSimulateHardwareAccent -bool YES
defaults write -g NSColorSimulatedHardwareEnclosureNumber -int n

John Gruber:

I know a lot of people are concerned that the white bezel surrounding the display will be distracting. In practice, I found that it just disappears.


The new Touch ID keyboard is good. If you like the feel of Apple’s recent keyboards, you should like this one too. I got the smaller one, without the numeric keypad. My only layout gripe: I wish Apple would have gone back to the inverted-T arrow key layout that they brought back to the new MacBooks.


My question is, why go with Touch ID on the keyboard instead of Face ID on the iMac itself?


The FaceTime HD camera looks really good.


It’s risky to use a device for a week and declare that it’s an iconic design that will stand the test of time for years to come, but I’ll do it. The 24-inch M1 iMac is an iconic design that will stand the test of time for years to come.

Update (2021-06-02): Quinn Nelson:

The new iMac’s stand articulates even less than the previous iMac. I can forgive tilt, but zero height adjustability in 2021 is unacceptable and encourages poor posture, neck craning, and RSI-resulting behavior for anyone too short or tall. Ergonomics should not be a pro feature.

20 Comments RSS · Twitter

You're comparing the new model to the 27", but they are really replacing the 21.5" (which they are still selling btw https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/imac-imac/21.5-inch).

Based on everything so far, I'm expecting a 14" (to replace the high-end 13") and 16" MBP and maybe a 30" iMac that has an M1X or M2 or whatever.

I'm not sure about the white bezels either - especially when paired with a coloured chin. Some of the front-on product images on Apple's web site are jarring to my eyes - but I guess one might get accustomed... possibly.
It's a shame they couldn't bring the new iPad's Centre Stage FaceTime camera tech to the iMac as I've read having to stay in a set position is what makes video-conferencing so tiring for people.
Otherwise they're excellent consumer level iMacs for those willing to stump up the €1500 starting price here in .ie

Thankfully, the numeric keyboard has the correct arrow key layout. I don't understand why it's like this on the smaller keyboard though. Ugh.

Scroll down to see a pic of the numeric keyboard here:


@Brad That’s what I’m hoping, but Apple hasn’t actually said.

I was relieved that they hadn't rounded the corners off the screen, and then they showed the keyboard.

@Michael Tsai: Naturally they haven't said anything about not-yet released products, but their entire ARM Mac strategy to date has been to replace the low end devices that look slow and crappy compared to their introductory low-wattage, low-core count M1 chip. The high end Intel devices that are actually competitive against the M1 are all still on sale, waiting for a more powerful M-series chip to come out.

Note that all of the 27" intel models are still for sale on Apple's site. The Retina 21" model is still listed on the site's comparison page, but the comparison doesn't provide pricing info anymore - looks like it's no longer available to order. The 21" intel non-retina model is still available for sale, because, I guess, the 24" models represent a price increase and they can't meet the 1,100 price point that the low end 21" model occupies with an M1 Imac, yet.

It's a bit sad that they decided not to add TouchID besides FaceID, even though the technology is all there in iPad Air. iPads are meant to be used not only at home, that is why they offer 5G on some models, and when you are out in a wild TouchID is very useful these days.
And I really missed an updated iPad mini.

New Siri Remote does not include U1 chip, that's another sad corner cutting.

But new color are just awesome

> It's a shame they couldn't bring the new iPad's Centre Stage FaceTime camera tech to the iMac

I wish modern Apple were better about this kind of cross-platform coordination. They launch cool features and then it's always "yes, buuuuuuuut not on this product!".

It's possible, though, that they'll add this later on in software.

There is a slight premium for the VESA mount model since it doesn't come with any stand but it's still the same price. :-)

> 0 or 2 USB ports instead of 4.

I don’t believe it ever has 0 USB ports. From what I read, you always have two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, and the 8-core upgrade has two USB 3 ports as well (also USB Type-C).

@Ian I’m referring to the number of USB-only ports.

> I love the idea, and hope Apple explores a bit more functionality in this brick in the future. If I could plug a couple of USB devices into a hidden power brick instead of having to route them up to the back of my iMac on my desk, I’d love it.

Maybe they could move all the ports to the brick, and maybe the motherboard and fans too to keep the noise farther away?

> Maybe they could move all the ports to the brick, and maybe the motherboard and fans too to keep the noise farther away?

For a second I thought you were serious. Good one :)

I like that there’s no logo on the front. For the pro model, adjustable stand and ergonomic keyboard options please.


Why not build the logic board and power brick into the stand, and then mount the screen on an adjustable arm? They stopped doing that because the screens were too heavy to float on an arm, but surely today's slim screens are light enough now?

Every Macintosh all-in-one from 1984 to 2006 had a white (or off-white) bezel. I never had any issue with that, and I never heard a single person who ever did. The iBook (1999-2006) also had white bezels, and the G4 PowerBooks (2001-2006) had light metallic bezels. So did every Apple external display until 2008. Who started this idea that light bezels are a problem? They're perfectly fine.

Except for one model (2002-2003), every Macintosh all-in-one since 1984 has had a chin, too -- and always a much bigger and more obnoxious one than the 2021 iMac. They used to have a big Apple logo, disk drives, buttons, and/or speaker grilles in bright contrasting colors. Even the one chin-less model had an "iMac" label across the front. And if you truly cannot stand even a little bit of color, just get the silver one.

People will find any little thing to complain about. It's cute how people are accusing Apple of prioritizing style over function, and then proving Apple right by complaining 10 times more about the (optional!) hue of the case than the (mandatory!) reduction in external ports and display support and RAM capacity.

@Sam I’m pretty sure that Apple itself started the idea that light bezels are a problem in the presentation when it introduced dark ones. Having used both, on phones and on Macs, it’s obviously not the end of the world, but I much prefer dark.

>I’m pretty sure that Apple itself started the idea that light bezels are a problem in the presentation when it introduced dark ones. Having used both, on phones and on Macs, it’s obviously not the end of the world, but I much prefer dark.

I think it's simply a function of additive color mixing. A screen's "neutral" color is black, so we're tuned for a black bezel to fade into the background, and to focus on the screen contents. White, meanwhile, draws attention. (Whereas, on subtractive color mixing, a white piece of paper fades into a background.)

So yeah, I personally have always preferred iPhone and Mac bezels to be black. I think it was the right choice when they introduced that on Macs (on the unibody MBPs, I think); it really highlights the content. White iPhone borders distract.

Having said that, I'm guessing they made this choice on the iMac because black would be a weird contrast against the bright pastel chin. The two-tone light chin/white bezel mix still looks a bit weird on their product photos, but I can see black mixing even worse. I'm also guessing this is a very deliberate "this is the consumer iMac" statement.

I suspect the big iMac (perhaps called the new iMac Pro? perhaps even with an iMac Pro Max variant?) will feature a different, darker, "more professional" color palette, just like they've segregated things on the iPhone vs. iPhone Pro.

(Boy, after seven years of this Mac, I was really trigger-happy to just buy an iMac. But, that 16 GiB RAM limit…)

Andrew Abernathy

In addition to Center Stage, seems like a TrueDepth camera setup on iMacs and MacBooks would allow for much higher-quality and reliable blurring or replacement of backgrounds for videoconferencing purposes. (I'm usually on my Mac mini with a third-party display, so I wouldn't benefit, but I imagine that many would.)

@Andrew That sounds great. Right now, Zoom is prone to make parts of my head/hair disappear, no matter the color of what’s behind them. But with depth information they should be easy to identify.

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