The Mac Lounge forum: Decline & Fall of the iMac?

by: Alberto Enriquez June 18, 2009 6:53 PM PDT

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Decline & Fall of the iMac?

by Alberto Enriquez - 6/18/09 6:53 PM

This is a cautionary tale for anyone looking at a new iMac. Trust not?and make sure you're getting exactly what you need. Then consider the alternatives.

Walk around my house and you'll see why for years I was an unpaid Apple evangelist. From the earliest Mac, to the first turquoise iMac, to the indigo, plus three laptops along the way, I was one happy customer. All of these machines are still up and running at least occasionally in some big or small capacity. Everything wasn't perfect?and sometimes at work I suffered from not being in the Wintel camp?but by and large, things were right in the world of Mac. The machines were well made. The software promised easy out-of-the-box functionality and delivered.

Then came the machine?the iMac 5.1?that would try my Mac-faith and show it to be a bit too blind and trusting. Apple didn't just let me down?it sucker-punched me. The first problems were software, and I adapted. But now, after less than three years?and just off warranty?my screen is failing with three vertical lines and counting. I've checked around online and this is all too common.

The problem according to the local service department is either the cable or the 1440 x 900 LCD screen. The cable is manufactured only by Apple. The screen itself would cost more to remove and replace $400 than substituting a new LCD TV screen. So I possibly shell out $80 to buy a cable that has been shown to be inadequate. Or I shell out for an entirely new monitor?definitely not Apple!

We loyal Apple customers used to brag that we didn't mind paying filet mignon prices because we didn't want to settle for the same MacD's hamburger everyone else was getting. It's way past time to stop taking those glowing reviews at face value every time Apple launches a product?and start raising hard questions about Apple's tactics and quality control.

Two years ago, it already seemed to me that Apple's tactics had gotten pretty damn rude. It never dawned on me for instance that any major computer company, let alone Apple, would ship a machine without a word processor. Pretty basic function, right? I mean, are wheels optional on a car? Yet, that's what happened with this much trumpeted iMac model?just "trial" versions of two different processors that lasted for 30 days. When I called to complain, the nice lady said, sure you can have the software permanently?just send us another $70. For this kind of nickel-and-diming, I paid over a grand more than for the competing products? Fortunately, work had a home license available for Microsoft Office, and helped us out. So, gradually my old files moved out of the Apple universe.

I also didn't expect that the "helpful" iTunes software would lock down the Audion mp3s that I'd encoded from my own CD collection. I re-ripped those files with Audion and took care to play them only on Audion, so I could move them around as I pleased. I'm not even a file trader, but apparently, I can't be trusted with my own CDs? Sure, they've fixed their obsession with playing mother, but it was an annoyance while it lasted.

Today, open source software from Google and others provides a no-cost alternative to both Microsoft or Apple. If you're not heavily committed to Apple software, and don't spend your time making movies, you may be just as well off with a much cheaper and more reliable hardware from someone else. That's the bottom-line. You wouldn't settle for a TV that had to be replaced every three years. So why PAY MORE for lower quality and bad attitude?

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