If we had the MacFormat team vote on which Mac was our favourite of all time, this would win easily. I’m not even sure that it would get the most votes, but Chris and I would just start throwing things until the others agreed to let it win. The ‘Anglepoise’ iMac was just a spectacular piece of design. It was the purest embodiment of Jony Ive’s ideals that design should be a balance between aesthetics and practicality. With the screen attached to a mobile arm, it was wonderful to work with – there’s a great mental boost to sitting down at a desk, grabbing the screen and pulling it into a working and viewing position that’s just so before you get started. As a productivity tool, its design was genuinely superb.
But on top of that… look at it! I’d swear it was designed specifically to sit under a spotlight. The way the light falls in an arc across the bottom dome, the dazzle of the shiny metal arm, the glint as the screen’s plastic bezel caught the light in its transparent edges – and, of course, a shining Apple logo on the front, a reflective spot against the plain matte background.
The finely crafted, beautifully machined unibody iMac on my desk suddenly looks so dull in comparison…
The G4 iMac actually had quite a lot of life in it, too – I worked in an office that had one of the later G4 models running for years, well after the Intel switch had happened and all the other machines around it had turned the shimmery grey of aluminium. It had its hard drive and RAM upgraded, an AirPort card and its OS kept up to date to make it at least semi-relevant, and I loved using it every so often.
I doubt we’ll see anything quite like it from Apple again. It would be quite a reversal from the minimalist unibody style to go back to something with all these joints and separate sections, and with much larger screens on the iMacs now, the arm might not be practical. But still, if Apple does release a larger iPad in the future, someone needs to make a stand for it styled just like the cantilevered G4 iMac. I’ll pay anything.