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Image credit: apple.com

What was your money on for a summer Apple surprise? An ARM chipset in a Mac? A new Mac Mini? The relaunch of the MacBook in 12 inch form? If you had a 27-inch iMac, you win. Its appearance is the same as the last 27-incher, and the one that came before that, too, and base models come in at $1,799, $1,999 and $2,299, just like the previous iMac offering. International prices start at £1,799 or AU$2,799.

SEE IT AT APPLE

For all the standard looks, Dan Ackerman notes for cnet that it’s been a pretty much complete overhaul under to cover – the most comprehensive Mac redo since the 2018 MacBook Air. If you’re a student looking to get your study on, it might be going a little over the top, but for those in creative industries looking to replicate the office at home, there are lots of different specs to obsess over.  

Some of the specs to check out include up to 10-core Core i9 10th-gen Intel CPUs and, even more impressively,  AMD Radeon 5000-series graphics cards. For anyone that works with 4K or 8K video for editing or even with high-res images or on CAAD programs, you’ll know this is the type of spec that you’re going to need. What’s actually most exciting about this 27-inch MacBook, rather surprisingly, was the standard bit of kit that you’ve never normally give more than a cursory glance to – the webcam.

Let’s face it… 

If you’ve not done a video call in the last month, do you even know what corona is? Webcams have been elevated this year; we all understand the specs. One of the big reveals has been that even top-end kit like MacBook Pros and even iMacs have had just a passable webcam fitted. When you’ve got to spend hours of your day in corporate meetings using your platform of choice – Zoom, Skype, WebEx… – a bog-standard 720p low-res camera isn’t picking up your best angles. Before coronatimes, how often did you check out your webcam’s video and audio specs? Now Google spews forth with webcam tips about getting the best out of your built-in kit.

Image credit: digitaltrends.com

With this new demand on computers, it was worth Ackerman jumping straight on to a Zoom call as soon as the new iMac landed in his hands, followed by him appearing on live TV and recording a video. He’d normally use a phone-plus-mic setup, but with even a decent mic on the new computer that’s the same as on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, he didn’t need any other kit. 

Considering it was taken on a computer-based webcam, the video quality was impressive, with acceptable audio. If you’re looking to make a VoIP call, it’s all good, but if you want to make a talking head style video you’ll still want to get your external mic rigged up and ready to go.

The T2 chip from Apple allows the iMac webcam to find faces in the webcam frame and optimize them. In reality, that means that exposure seems to be adjusted to give nicer faces over backgrounds. If the webcam can do that, you might expect some facial recognition log-in skills like FaceID on iPhones, or at least have the camera be able to follow and track faces. Alas, it’s not to be, although there are still tangible improvements to the webcam – before this iMac you’d have had to get the iMac Pro to be able to do FaceTime in 1080p.

Nothing has changed about the speakers since the 2014 iMac, says Apple. The software behind them, with variable but non-user adjustable EQ does bring some improvements, especially when you’re at low volume. It’s not unusual to rely on new software to improve audio – bigger speakers would need a bigger computer and that doesn’t fit with the general design ethic nowadays. 

Nano-texture comes of age

You need to look to the higher end of the new iMacs to get one of the other new features since it doesn’t come as standard with any of the 27-inch base models. Add $500 onto your price and you get nano-texture glass which is made to reduce glare. When you compare an Apple Pro Display with and without nano-texture, there’ll be no going back. If you’re buying a work tool that’s going to be with you for years, it’s probably going to be worth the extra cash. 

Rather than the dull effect that you can get from matte screen coatings that wash out your images, nano-texture is etched directly on to the glass at a nanometer level – see what Apple did there?

Screen glare is real, as lots of people will have found out whilst working away from carefully designed office spaces. Ackerman reports that that the nano-texture was, indeed, all but glare-proof, except at some extreme angles.  

The new 27-inch iMac is only new so you can expect some benchmarking and real-life impressions in the coming months, along with a full review. We’ve noted down the biggest things for you to keep a lookout for, here.

The major changes to the 27-inch iMac

  • A CPU hike up to 10th-gen Intel, with a maximum 10-core Core i9
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5000-series graphics cards
  • Maximum 8TB SSD with no more hybrid drives available 
  • DDR4 RAM goes up to 128GB 
  • Improvements to Siri and other functionality with an Apple T2 chip 
  • True Tone display
  • Studio mics to match the 16-inch MacBook Pro
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