Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Apple’s new iMac & keyboard

Posted on 08 August 2007 14 comments

Article illustration for Apple's new iMac & keyboard

So, the Mac’s out of the bag (heh heh) and looking rather lovely indeed. More sleek and slender than previous iterations, this iMac definitely sports a more ‘pro’ look, even if those words are straight from The Jobsmeister’s mouth. And look at that glossy black Apple logo – phwoar!

More than anything, I think this is a perfect example of realigning, not redesigning; or, to you non-designers out there, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This model sees fewer changes than any previous version of the iMac (if you exclude those disgusting patterned ones from back in the day) and the subtle refinements have taken something good and made it great.

While the aluminium is a great look and a step in the right direction in terms of across-the-board consistency, a part of me thinks it’s strange because – as of Leopard – the Mac OSX GUI will finally lose the brushed aluminium look across all native applications. I support Apple’s decision to do this – it was getting very old – but it’s a shame about that horrible dull grey they’re replacing it with. At least it doesn’t look like they’re going that way with the hardware.

Ah, and there’s the new keyboard! Without having tried one it’s hard to say whether the new design addresses or creates usability issues, but the almost flush, MacBook-style keys can only be a good thing in terms of dirt collecting, or rather the lack thereof. But what a shame that the wireless version ditches the full key set. The decision to do this is logical – the wireless version is better suited for lap usage – but with very few people using a mac as an entertainment / media centre, I can’t help but feel forgotten by ol’ Stevie J; because I – like many of you, I expect – like a wireless keyboard because it removes desk clutter… and because it looks cool! Given that a very large part of Apple’s products’ appeal is that they look cool, it’s a shame to be forced into buying one or the other rather than having a more open choice.

What do you guys think?

14 comments

  1. Jonathan E

    Jonathan E

    08 August 2007 @ 08:22PM #

    I too am a little surprised by the decision to remove the num-pad from the wireless keyboard. I love the freedom that a wireless keyboard allows, but part of me would rather have a full set of keys. Having said that, the wireless model looks great, and maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to it. Being a laptop user, I don’t generally use a full keyboard anyways… so maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

  2. Francis Booth

    Francis Booth

    08 August 2007 @ 08:50PM #

    Great reference to the realign school of thought, something I feel quite strongly about. Also Apple’s recent site realign is another example of them not feeling the need to reinvent the wheel (although I did really like those old tabs).

    It’s amusing to look back through the history of Apple’s top-nav evolution, they haven’t always been quite so good at doing the glass/gel effect!

    apple.com circa 2000 apple.com circa 2002 apple.com circa 2003

    On the subject, I’ve just completed a realign of my workplace’s site… here’s before and after. :)

  3. Alice

    Alice

    08 August 2007 @ 10:02PM #

    Erm, splurge!

  4. Dickson

    Dickson

    08 August 2007 @ 11:33PM #

    I think the new iMac has been “realigned” rather than redesigned because there’s isn’t the need nor technological ability to make the next step in form factor.

    From the first grumdrop iMac G3s to the lampshade iMac G4s, there was a clear benefit to switching to TFT panels, and it was logical to keep the bulk of the computer weight at the base for size, stability, and adjustability purposes. From iMac G4 to iMac G5/Intel, sufficiently powerful and cost-effective mobile components could be used, thus allowing the components to be mounted behind the TFT panel much like building a laptop. In the case of the new iMac, there’s isn’t really any cost-effective new technology to allow them to make the next step in design. Maybe when they introduce some novel new interfaces like multitouch, but that probably won’t happen for quite a while.

    Oh well. I still want one of these puppies.

  5. Andrew Grieve

    Andrew Grieve

    09 August 2007 @ 06:42PM #

    I might be the odd one out here. I don’t really like it all that much. Well, maybe i don’t like it is a bit strong, but it’s not a good as i thought it might be. I, like others iv’e seen on the net, am not particularly keen on the ‘Jay Leno’ chin that the imac sports, both old and new. I was really looking for the new iMac to look something like, if not exactly the same as one of their stand-alone brushed aluminium flat screens.
    I actually popped into the Apple store on Regent’s Street today and tried one out.
    I have to say i really really love the keyboard. It’s both beautiful to look at and to use.

    As an aside, i tried out iPhoto 08’. I’m sure i can’t be alone in wishing that iPhoto played the videos you take with your digital camera at an occassion along with the photos in the slideshow. I actually wrote to Apple and suggested this as an obvious upgrade for the next version of iPhoto. I was very happy then to see a ‘movies taken with still camera’ folder in the sources list.
    Excellent i though, so i clicked the play button for the slideshow at the bottom, it comes up with the slideshow dialogue box but the play button is greyed out! Hmmph, i thought, ok i’ll go into front row and try it from there. Nope, front row just crashed when i chose that folder. I briefly tried the numbers program too, but too briefly to make an comment/judgment.

    As a Mac Mini owner i’d just like to say i’m heartened to see the core 2 duo processor finally make it into these guys. I think i might try and ebay my core duo and pick up a core 2 duo to get that 64-bit Leopard goodness.

    Wow! Mammoth post!

  6. Matt Munsey

    Matt Munsey

    09 August 2007 @ 09:53PM #

    Incredibly sexy. I do love the new keyboard design. I will probably be picking one of these up soon, and for the very reason you pointed out, Elliot. Dirt! The old keyboards, while looking quite cool, were horrible about getting messy. Hard to clean too. I am looking forward to having one of these new, slim keyboards sitting on my desk.

  7. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    11 August 2007 @ 07:25PM #

    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. I’m going to have to pop into the Apple Store in Regent St. on Monday to get my grubby mitts on one of their demo machines! It’s amazing to hear that they’ve actually got stock already; sadly I think the standalone keyboards are still going to be a few weeks away yet.

  8. Derek Damko

    Derek Damko

    16 August 2007 @ 11:36PM #

    The one thing I wish they would have given choice on is the glossy screen. I don’t know about you but I don’t work in a completely dark room and with a glossy screen I am going to see all the ambient reflections in the room, I don’t know why Apple is not giving and option for this.

  9. njdiver

    njdiver

    17 August 2007 @ 03:44PM #

    I got my new 20" iMac just a couple of days ago and I’m LOVING IT!!! Even the new keyboard that has a fantastic typing feel to it. I had a wireless keyboard on my old iMac and will miss it but until Apple comes out with a full wireless keyboard for this beauty I will just stay with the wired version.

    Does anyone know where I can find a protective cover for the new slim keyboard??? I haven;’t been able to locate any…both using a Google search and shopping at the local Apple store.

  10. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    17 August 2007 @ 04:14PM #

    @ Derek: I think I support Apple’s decision to go glossy with the screen. I have two almost identical MacBook Pros (my own one and the work one); the only difference being that the work one sports a glossy screen. I wasn’t sure at first because of the whole reflection thing, but I have to say that reflection is a very rare problem (I’ve only ever noticed it on the train, where lightsources are constantly changing). The glossy screen is far nicer, basically because the blacks are so black.

  11. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    18 August 2007 @ 03:45AM #

    I’ve just picked up the new keyboard from my local Apple Store and it’s lovely. I never thought I’d get so excited about typing! It was a great surprise to find them in already, although those of you after the wireless version may have to wait a few more weeks (in the UK, at least). Personally it had to be the wired version – I just couldn’t do without that right-hand number pad.

  12. Sean

    Sean

    22 August 2007 @ 04:44PM #

    Quote:

    “…but with very few people using a mac as an entertainment / media centre…”

    Please.

  13. Jordan

    Jordan

    23 August 2007 @ 11:14AM #

    Just ordered a 24" 2.8 GHz myself :)

    Oh, and Elliot, you don’t want a wireless keyboard (I don’t think) because the wireless ones don’t have a number pad or anything.

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