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This morning, Apple finally released the long-rumored cheaper iMac: a 21.5-inch model for $1,099, or $200 less than the previous low-end model.
Your office might already run Macs. Or, perhaps you're desperate to avoid the abomination that is Windows 8.1 and have decided that Mac is the better route. If so, you might be wondering: should your office be eyeballing the low-end iMac? Or the Mac Mini? Or do you splurge and pay the extra $200 for the now mid-range iMac model?
Here's how the lineup stacks up.
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New Cheaper iMac: Meh
This is all you need to know about the new iMac: spec-wise, it's basically the base model MacBook Air with a bigger screen and more memory. We can tell you from personal experience that the guts of the Macbook Air (and the new iMac) will do everything you need business-wise. That being said, even with the discount, this is no bargain.
The MacBook Air uses a slower ultra-low voltage chip for two big reasons: portability and battery life. It's a thin-and-light laptop that lasts twelve hours, which makes a slower, dual-core chip a worthy compromise. And when you're typing away at legal briefs, the 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 chip is all you need.
But, on a desktop PC, you're making the compromise without the payoff -- there is no battery or portability.
Mid-Range iMac: Worth the $200
Here's what you get for the extra $200:
That's a lot of geek specs, but in English: for $200, you get twice the computer. And while you may not need the extra power now, think of it as future-proofing.
Mac Mini: No Way
The bottom line is the bottom line, right? Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.), so why aren't we looking at the Mac Mini, which starts at only $599?
Let's start with the last time it was updated: 603 days ago (an eternity in tech-land). It has a decently fast processor for a nearly two-year-old computer, but it uses a previous generation of Intel's Core i5 processor, which comes with a pathetically bad integrated graphics solution. Also, unless you have a mouse, keyboard, and display handy, you'll have to add those to the tab, as they aren't included.
Even if Apple cuts the price of the Mac Mini (it did so in Europe this morning), we'd still say to stay away and hope that the company updates this long-neglected product later this year.