Life gets hectic at times, especially if you work at a startup.
You're calling people constantly, working at home or at the airport, texting like a mad hen. But there are times when you need to settle into a comfy chair in your office and hammer out a business report or do some research.
Recently, I've been testing the new Apple iMac with Retina 4K, which costs $1,499 for the version with a built-in 21.5-inch display. (Apple also makes a 27-in. version that costs $1,799 and has even more pixels on the screen.) The computer and screen are all-in-one and it takes up a small footprint on your desk.
So far, it has proven to be the perfect startup computer, the one that makes the most sense for my hectic lifestyle. Here's why it worked so well.
First, I really like how it integrates into my daily workflow. There's a feature called Continuity that works with your iPhone and iPad. (If you live in the world of Android, none of this will work. Sorry about that.) The iMac knows you have your iPhone or iPad connected and in the same room. So, if you get a call or text, a notice pops up on the Mac. If you start writing a document in the Pages app on your iPad, you can pick up where you left off on the desktop.
I love how this works because I don't own a desk phone and I'm constantly switching between my mobile existence when traveling or working remotely and trying to hammer out work in an actual office with a desk and a chair. I can text right from the Mac as well and initiate a phone call, which then uses the iMac's speakerphone and picks up perfectly. It bridges the gap between a real and a remote office.
The 4K display, which has four times the resolution of HD, is a bit of a wonder. Apple does some trickery to make sure it is bright and displays a full color gamut, which is techie language for saying "the blue looks really blue," and photos and text both look super crisp. I've been using the iMac 4K right alongside another computer connected to a 4K monitor, and there is no question the iMac looks much better, especially now that I've tweaked a setting to show larger text on screen.
There's a host of nifty Mac OS X tricks you'll find. (In fact, I'm still finding them.) You can run the iMac in a cool split-screen mode that shows an app on one side and a browser on the other. This is possible on a Windows 10 computer, but it's cooler on the iMac--you just hold down the green box in a window and drag.
If you use the Apple Magic Mouse, you can swipe with two fingers to move between virtual desktops as well. It works like an iPad. In terms of workflow, you can have one desktop for "research," with a browser and a document open, and another desktop for "making calls and texting," with the Mail app and Apple iMessages open for texting and chatting. For me, it has helped create some separation between these activities and reduced some of my desktop clutter. I have saved time by fiddling less.
You might think, wait, isn't a desktop kind of old-school? We're all using phones and tablets, right? Not so fast. Desktop sales might not be so robust, but when you need to produce some work, those mobile devices usually sit in a laptop bag.
I really like how Apple has made the iMac look and feel more like the iPhone, too. I tested the latest OS, called El Capitan, and, especially in apps like Mail and iMessages, it looks and functions exactly like the iPad. This makes it easier to find features like swiping to archive a message. It's weird to think the Mac has been catching up to the iPhone lately, since the Mac came first (way back in 1984), but we all know Apple has made the biggest impact on our day with mobile devices.
In terms of price, at $1,499 it's not an impulse buy for anyone trying to manage a budget for a startup. My system came with a 1TB drive, a fast Intel Core i5 processor, and 8GB of RAM. It's downright speedy, even for intense Adobe Photoshop CC image editing sessions. I blew up one image of a company founder and, on the 4K display, could see individual nose hairs. Gross! But cool that you can see so much detail if you need to work some Photoshop magic.
If I ran a startup, I'd buy this machine both for myself and for my employees. I like the OS X tricks to help with productivity. Continuity is helping me stay on top of my phone interviews and to text family members. It's super fast.
I only miss a few things from the Windows world. I tend to take a break over lunch and fire up a game like Metal Gear Solid just for fun. That's not going to happen on a Mac, the game is not available. Most of the desktop apps I use daily are on the Mac, like Slack and Skype, but there are a few gotchas. For example, there's a new browser called Brave that, so I've heard, only runs on Windows for now. If Adobe makes a new version of their suite, it's more likely to debut on Windows first.
I have a minor issue with the included keyboard and mouse. First, the keyboard is too petite, as though it were made for the iPad. It slides around a bit, and the keys are too small. The mouse is also too light and it tends to slide around as well. Charging it is also weird: You plug in a cable on its belly, upside down, like it's a dead (real) mouse.
I haven't found any other problems, though. I'll be reporting more on the Mac and Apple, now that IBM has made a big push to deploy these machines internally and at other companies. Maybe 2016 will be the year the Mac makes a big comeback. For now, it's just made a big comeback for me.