While you might not immediately think of Apple when it comes to business workstations, the iMac is a solid self-contained package, and does appeal to this market.
The iMac 17in model, much like the rest of Apple's range, is truly beautiful to look at. Wrapped in a white plastic housing this half sphere shape features an easily adjusted 17in TFT display. Apple boasts the iMac's ability to have its display attuned by height, depth and angle - all with the touch of only a single finger. It's also the only non-Microsoft Windows-based desktop system we received and is as comfortable at home as in the office environment with its minimalist looks and software flexibility.
Given then ubiquitousness of Microsoft's productivity software, it's nice to have an alternative outside of the open source community in AppleWorks 6, while maintaining full compatibility with existing MS Office apps and documents and making for easy platform crossover.
Build quality on this unit was excellent; having all parts located internally is both aesthetic and functional. This helps prevent corporate tampering and hardware theft, as does the Kensington lock port.
On the other hand, the sealed chassis does bring its own limitations to the table, as it's impossible to upgrade many components in the iMac. Apple does offer a range of customisations available at time of purchase, including additional amounts of RAM, hard disk capacity, wireless AirPort Extreme modules and Bluetooth functionality at an additional cost. However, you'll see the price skyrocket nearly $500 by doubling the RAM to 512MB and adding an internal wireless and Bluetooth adaptor.
Apple unfortunately only offers a standard one-year warranty on its range of iMacs, in line with DigitalStar's IntelliPro 4000GX and Intermedia's Techmart SOHO system. An extended three-year warranty will cost an additional $299 pushing it even higher when compared to the Labs Winning Altech and IBM systems. The iMac does feature a SuperDrive 4-speed DVD burner, something none of the other systems could offer, although this is of limited value if all you're looking for is a desktop workstation.
In testing terms, we compared the iMac head to head with all the other systems in this Labs in every way except for benchmarks. As such, the scores represent everything but speed.
Although heavy on the features and packing some nifty functions unavailable on other PC units, the lower than average warranty and high price tag may force you to look elsewhere if you're a company with lesser-lined pockets.