In October I told you about the new iMac DV from Apple, and how it looked
like it was going to be the best iMac Apple ever built. Well, that was
before I road-tested one. Now that I have spent several weeks with mine, I
am totally sold.
On top of being gorgeous, the iMac DV is like getting three different
machines for the price of one. Sure it's a Mac -- a great personal computer
and easy-to-use Web applicance. But iMac DV is also a full-blown home
theatre system, complete with a DVD player and mind-blowing Harman Kardon
sound system. And last but not least, iMac DV is a complete video editing
studio that anyone -- even your mother -- could use.
To start with, our iMac DV was a cinch to set up. In fact, my 7 year-old son
was able to get the whole thing wired up and plugged in by himself (with
adult supervision but no intervention, of course). Once he got everything
hooked up, it took me 5 minutes to get Internet access up and running. Total
time from box to Internet: 20 minutes. Then, everything worked just as you'd
expect, only faster. The bottom line is that iMac DV is first and foremost a
Macintosh, and a very good and fast one at that.
But it's also a respectable home theatre. To show off the DVD-ROM drive
(which also plays CD-ROMs and audio CDs, by the way), Apple has thoughtfully
included a copy of "A Bug's Life" on DVD-ROM, with every iMac DV. I popped
the disc into the slot-loading DVD drive and was blown away -- the
full-screen DVD playback was stunning, vivid, lifelike, breathtaking, and
amazing. The effect was amplified (excuse the pun) by the clear, clean sound
system. We (my family and I) were stunned at how excellent the whole
experience was. My wife summed it later when she said, "The iMac sounds
better than the stereo in my van! A lot better."
But the best part, at least for me, was the included iMovie software. iMovie
is Apple's new easy-to-use software that lets you transfer video to and from
any digital camcorder (via iMac DV's FireWire ports), perform easy
"drag-and-drop" editing, add special effects like dissolves and wipes,
record voiceovers (using the built-in microphone) and create soundtracks
from audio CDs.
What can I say? Using iMovie was unbelievably easy. I shot some footage of
my son's soccer game on Saturday. By Sunday at noon I had completed a 7
minute mini-movie, complete with soundtrack, dialog, professional-looking
dissolves and cross-fades, and rolling credits.
The iMovie software is so easy to use that Apple doesn't even provide a
manual. And I never felt the need for one. There is a very good Mac OS
Help-based tutorial and an extensive online help system. Between the two I
was able to create a very nice (if I do say so myself) 7 minute movie in
just a few hours.
The iMac DV (and it's souped up brother the iMac DV Special Edition) is
without a doubt the best iMac of all time. Heck, it may well be the best Mac
of all time!
iMac DV. 400MHz G3,
10GB hard disk,
DVD ROM drive,
iMac DV Special Edition. 400MHz G3,
128MB RAM, 13GB hard disk,
FireWire, USB, iMovie software. Graphite color only.
iMac DV. SRP $1,299.
iMac DV Special Edition. SRP $1,499.
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LeVitus is a leading authority on the Mac,
the author of 22 computer books, including
"Cheap & Easy Internet Access," "WebMaster Mac,"
and "System 7.5 for Dummies." Bob is also a contributing
editor and columnist for MacUser magazine. E-mail comments and suggestions
to [email protected].
Dr. Mac / Bob LeVitus has a new "vanity" web site at http://www.boblevitus.com/.