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One Wire

August 23, 2010
By Dave Hecei,
The latest Apple iMacs are now available. They may look the same, but trust me, with newer processors and better video, these iMacs are amazing. Not everyone loves the all-in-one design of the iMac, which dates back to 1984 with the very first Mac. But if you are a neat freak, or you just hate having a rat’s nest of wires under your desk, you will love the iMac. If you’ve never seen an iMac before you will likely say something like ‘Where’s the computer’? The design of the iMac is such that Apple has taken one of their finest LCD displays and put a computer inside it. The monitor is the computer. There is a slot-load drive on the right, just above a smaller SD camera card slot. There are ports in the back to connect to various peripherals, and a power plug with a flush fitting power cord. The iMac is made from an aluminum shell. The stand is a minimalistic aluminum L bracket that is hinged. This allows the iMac to easily tilt up and down. You move the whole unit to swivel left or right. The front piece of glass protects the LCD screen and fits flush to the edges. The glass has a black border around it making the iMac look elegant but robust. Included with all new iMacs are both a wireless keyboard and mouse. They both use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to the iMac. By using Bluetooth, which is built-in on all late model Macs, there is no extra dongle to connect and eventually lose. The standard keyboard is small, mainly because it does not have a separate keypad. If you don’t regularly use a keypad then you really won’t miss it. The included mouse is the new Apple Magic Mouse with built-in multi-touch features. The entire top surface of the Magic Mouse is a touch surface, like that of the trackpad on a notebook computer or the screen of the iPhone. You can click with either a left or right button, even though there is no actual buttons – the entire mouse is a button. By swiping a single finger you can scroll in any direction — up, down, left, right, and diagonally. There is also a two-finger swipe for use while surfing – to browse backwards or forward – or while browsing through photos in iPhoto. While this mouse doesn’t impress me too much, I love it compared to the previous Mighty Mouse with that little scroll ball that would always get gummed up. The underlying design of the iMac is to remove all the wires. For most situations, a new iMac can easily be set up with only one wire on the desk, the power cord. This can be done thanks to modern wireless technology, specifically WiFi and Bluetooth. Take a typical home computer setting. You have a computer, printer, digital camera, Internet connection, backup drive, and scanner. By using the proper peripherals and a new iMac, these can all be used and there should only be one wire under the computer desk Not being made of money, I choose the base iMac, the 21.5-inch for $1199. While this might be the base model, it is plenty fast with the new Intel Core i3 processor running at 3.06GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, and ATI HD 4670 video. Actually, this is a very fast machine. For my WiFi connection I decide on the $40 D-Link DIR-601 Wireless-N 150 Home Router. This can easily be set up on a Mac and uses the same n-based WiFi as the $179 Apple Airport Extreme. Plus, the money I saved on buying the D-Link over the Airport almost paid for my All-in-One printer. For that I chose the Epson Artisan 810, online pricing is around $160. This is an all-in-one model that prints documents, photos, scans, copies and faxes. It has a document feeder to automate scanning and copying of documents, plus a standard flatbed for photos or books, even 3D objects like coins and such. The 810, like most Epson photo printers, can produce photo lab-quality borderless photos from 3.5 by 5 inches up to 8.5 by 11 inches. It can also print directly onto printable CD/DVDs. It can connect to Macs or Windows PCs with either USB, Ethernet, or wirelessly with WiFi. For backup you really can’t beat Apple’s Time Capsule. Available with either a 1TB or 2TB hard drive, you shouldn’t run out of space too soon. Used in conjunction with Time Machine, the built-in backup system in OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard, Time Capsule is a ‘set and forget’ backup solution. If you wanted to forgo a separate WiFi router, Apple’s Time Capsule can also act as a wireless router. Being a shutterbug, the camera I chose is a little more on the high-end of compact cameras. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 Digital Camera is a 12.1 megapixel camera with a Leica 18x lens. It shoots excellent stills, but can also shoot 720p HD video in the AVCHD Lite format. It uses SDHC memory cards that work the iMac’s built-in SD card slot. A big bonus with Macs is that all the software is already in installed — iPhoto for working with still images and iMovie/iDVD for working with video. Ok, now to get it down to one wire. The Internet modem is in the corner of the room where the phone is. This is where the WiFi router is placed along with the Time Capsule backup drive. The WiFi Epson printer is set on a small file cabinet beside the desk — no visible cable there. The keyboard and mouse are setting on the desk, no wires there. So there is the iMac sitting on the desk with only one wire – the power cord. So I now have a nice neat desk with no clutter and only one wire. Ya, right. At least there is only one wire.

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