Buy a 27-inch iMac or not?
January 24, 2010 12:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm strongly considering finally switching from PC to Mac. My heart is set on the new 27-inch iMac and I'd like some feedback from anyone who currently owns one. I'm a bit concerned because....

....of the hundreds of people who have been reporting flickering screens, yellow tints on the display, power outages, etc. I'm pretty certain I'll buy one anyway because I can't wait anymore and they look awesome. Does anyone own one?
posted by Tenacious.Me.Tokyo to Computers & Internet (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is the issue only with the 27-inch model? We have three of the new 21-inchers in my lab, and I use them for about 10-12 hours per day with no problem whatsoever.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:55 AM on January 24, 2010

I've had the flickering backlight problem with my Macbook (and ipod touch, actually), so I think that Apple just tends to use flaky inverters for the backlights. I don't know anything about the 27" specifically, but I do know that I had to take my macbook in for repair several times over the last few years, and I've been very happy with my extended warranty through my credit card. It was much cheaper than AppleCare (free for an extra year, like $180 for 2 more years) and I've certainly got my use out of it.
posted by bsdfish at 2:32 AM on January 24, 2010

At the very least, wait until Wednesday to see if the iMac line gets refreshed at all at Apple's announcement. There've been rumors of a large touchscreen iMac in addition to the much-ballyhooed tablet.
posted by disillusioned at 3:03 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

There've been rumors of a large touchscreen iMac in addition to the much-ballyhooed tablet.

Good point, although it is possible, but unlikely that there will be a product refresh.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:08 AM on January 24, 2010

If it's just related to the 27" model and not the others, I would go to an Apple store and actually try all the iMacs out. Depending on what you'll be using it for, you might find that a different size could work better. I had done my research online for a MacBook Pro, and set my heart on a 15" because I used to have a 15" PowerBook and the size worked well for me. I went to the Apple store, tried the laptops out, and found that I preferred the 13" model.
posted by autoclavicle at 4:08 AM on January 24, 2010

For what it's worth, I haven't had any flickering screen problems with my (mid-2009) MacBook Pro or iPod Touch.
posted by autoclavicle at 4:09 AM on January 24, 2010

We ordered one in November but it wasn't delivered until late December. The reason given to us by the company we ordered it from was that shipment was supposedly delayed due to technical issues being ironed out. The flickering screen was supposedly one of these technical issues.
posted by chillmost at 4:30 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd look at an Apple-refurbed 24" iMac - proven, as new condition, and qualifies for AppleCare, so clearly, Apple considers their refurbs to be as-new, as well. I'm writing this on a refurbed 24" (white) iMac; Ms. TT is just now writing email on a refurbed 20" (white) iMac. We've had them a year and a half or a little more. We're totally pleased with both machines.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 4:47 AM on January 24, 2010

Apparently, there is a firmware update out to fix flickering screen issues.

I've had a 27" imac as my work computer for about 18 months (so I supposed it's an older version) and I've had no issues sitting in front of it for 9 hours per day. I love it.
posted by donajo at 5:54 AM on January 24, 2010

Sorry, I meant I have the 24" imac.
posted by donajo at 6:33 AM on January 24, 2010

We've had a 27" iMac since November and haven't run into any of those problems. Not that that means you won't, but at least it means you might not. I would definitely get AppleCare or some sort of extended warranty, and back it up regularly from the beginning in case you need to return it.
posted by dreadpiratesully at 7:12 AM on January 24, 2010

Absolutely get Apple Care!
posted by jgirl at 7:24 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

We have one in our office. It's purrrrrrrrdy. No issues.

AppleCare is not worth it for desktops, IMO.
posted by mkultra at 7:40 AM on January 24, 2010

FWIW, I bought a 27" iMac the week that they came out and have not experienced any issues with screen flickering or yellowing.
posted by adirondack at 8:33 AM on January 24, 2010

I also think AppleCare isn't worth it, but if you do insist on buying, this is what I've previously posted about AppleCare purchasing on MeFi:

As for AppleCare, do not buy it now. Wait until right before your warranty expires and then decide if you think you need it. If so, buy it, but buy it from Amazon or eBay or someplace else cheaper. (Never buy RAM or AppleCare from Apple, get them third party cheaper.)

posted by Brian Puccio at 8:52 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

You'll find reports of some kind of problem with any new line of PCs - Apple tends to get more visibility because they have a smaller product lineup, and, well, they are Apple.

The majority of machines will not have the reported problem.
I always insist on opening my apple up in the store and checking for dead pixels (bringing along a USB stick with the required images to do so).
I've found Apple resellers more than willing to do this, wheras actual Apple-owned stores will refuse to open the box until you've paid for it, stating that it's company policy. Statments like "So you mean I can't even SEE the thing you want me to spend $3000 on before I pay you?". In this case, I insist on opening it in the (busy) store, and if I see a defect, I'm going to demand a different one on the spot - which I haven't had to do, but figure any manager worth his salt would provide, especially in a busy store full of potential customers.
posted by TravellingDen at 9:19 AM on January 24, 2010

If it were me, I'd look at an Apple-refurbed 24" iMac - proven, as new condition, and qualifies for AppleCare, so clearly, Apple considers their refurbs to be as-new, as well.

Ah... are you sure about this. Apple absolutely DOES NOT qualify their refurbed iPhones for Applecare. I went through 5 in a month (they come with 90 day warranties that cannot be extended). Maybe it's just the phones...?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:41 AM on January 24, 2010

Maybe it's just the phones...?
It is just the iPhones. I have no idea why. I would generally buy all my Macs from the Apple Refurb store. (not that I normally do... usually when I buy a Mac I want it RIGHT NOW and go to the store to get it :)
posted by icebourg at 9:50 AM on January 24, 2010

I bought a 27" quadcore in December and it's been nothing but kind to me. Crispest screen ever. I also flinched and bought AppleCare, but haven't needed it yet.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 10:02 AM on January 24, 2010

I did have a problem with flickering on my 27″ iMac, bought in mid-December, but the firmware upgrade donajo mentioned and zapping the PRAM has appeared to put paid to it.

Otherwise, great machine, without any other issues. I did get AppleCare - it's been suggested in previous AskMe's - but have not had to use it. Runs Windows 7 very nicely; playing Left4Dead at 2560 × 1440 resolution with the lights off is a great deal of fun.

One suggestion I would make, just because it's a good idea in any case - grab a 1GB external drive with a USB2 and/or Firewire 800 interface. As soon as you plug it into the iMac, OS X will ask if you want to use the drive as a Time Machine backup. Say yes. In an hour or two, you have a perfect, ongoing archive of your data, so on the off-chance that anything does go wrong, you can restore a new machine (in rare, serious situations, Apple will send you one) exactly where you left off, losing a minimum amount of time.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:03 AM on January 24, 2010

Always, always, always by AppleCare for any Apple product you can buy it with. Three years of free phone support is *insanely cheap* for the price, and they are extraordinarily helpful. I've never bought an Apple computer or any other high-end Apple product without it (displays, etc.), and I've NEVER been sorry. It covers hardware replacement, software support, and any questions *at all* about your computer/display/etc. for (I can't stress this enough) three freakin' years. Any questions. It's worth the price a hundred times over.
posted by tzikeh at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, buy AppleCare. I've had a 21" iMac since November 2007 and while most of the time it runs like a dream, for some reason (which I suspect is the power supply but AppleCare hasn't ever found anything wrong with the power supply) it takes power outages/surges with very little grace. I think the power has gone out unexpectedly twice total while I've had the iMac, and the first time it fried the motherboard, and the second time the hard drive failed within a week. So, my small investment in AppleCare has gotten me a new motherboard and hard drive, and installation for both.

I doubt you will have this same problem - this seems to be particular to my own personal iMac (for a while I was working from home on a newer 24" iMac and it rode through the same power outage that took out my hard drive with aplomb) but AppleCare has been SO worth it.
posted by crinklebat at 11:23 AM on January 24, 2010

I have one. It works great and is quiet. So far the biggest problems I've had is I can't get boot camp to work and the audio in is line-in, not mic-in. It has a built in mic of course but I prefer my headset. I have had no screen flicker, yellowing, or random powerdowns.
posted by chairface at 11:44 AM on January 24, 2010

Get AppleCare. It's up to you whether you want to buy the AppleCare with the computer, or wait until ~11 months after you bought it (since you get 1 year of support included anyway). But either way, get it.

I bought one of the 24" aluminum iMacs that came out in 2007, and while it has mostly been a good computer, I have had issues with it. Of course, none of them showed up until after the first year was up, and I had not bought AppleCare, so I've been forced to live with it. These issues include "image persistence" (aka screen burn-in) and the apparent inability to run Google Earth for more than about 5 minutes without crashing. Oh, and the headphone jack stopped working about a year ago, too. If I'd bought AppleCare, I probably would have been able to get these issues taken care of. As it stands I'm just biding my time until I can sell this computer and get a new one.
posted by Nothlit at 12:23 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might want to wait to see what they announce next week, but it's unlikely they'll refresh the 27" iMac since it's so new. The 27" is awesome and it has one major advantage over older iMacs - you can use it as an external monitor (you can hook up another computer or BD player to it), so once the computer becomes old and slow in a few years you'll still be able to use it as an awesome monitor or TV.

Don't buy the AppleCare warranty when you buy the computer. All Macs come with a 1 year warranty, which is the same coverage as AppleCare. Buying AppleCare extends the 1 year warranty to 3 years, and you can buy it anytime during the first year. Get it from Amazon for a discount.
posted by kenliu at 12:50 PM on January 24, 2010

We've got... five or six in the office, and none of them have experienced any weirdnesses. The screen is fantastic -- not only is it huuuuge but it's a higher resolution per inch than the previous iMacs, too. After setting a couple up my 24" feels crowded.
posted by mendel at 1:26 PM on January 24, 2010

I ordered a 27" iMac the week after Christmas. It was delayed for a couple weeks, and I received it last Saturday (Jan. 16). It was perfect for a few days, and then the flickering started. It would flash horizontal static-y bars and occasionally flash black for a second before coming back.

I took it to an Apple store tonight, and they were took them a while to figure out the best option, but they ended up exchanging mine for one that they had in stock that was identical, except the new one is the quad core (mine was the dual core) at no extra charge. The customer service really was wonderful.

The point of the story being...get the 27", and if you have any problems take it in right away. You'll end up with a great product no matter what.
posted by DulcineaX at 5:18 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just called AppleCare, and apparently, a bulletin was issued today (he said it's dated 1/23/10) to the support staff about continued flickering with the 27" iMac, even after the "27-inch iMac Graphics Firmware Update 1.0" has been applied.

From what the AppleCare technician told me, Apple is aware of the issue and anticipates a fix in about 3 weeks. This would clearly explain the extended shipping times we're seeing.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:04 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Monday February 01, 2010: "Apple Issues New 27-Inch iMac Firmware Update to Address Display Issues" –

"Apple has issued a new firmware update today to address issues that may cause intermittent display flickering. Earlier today reports had indicated that Apple may have even stopped production of the 27" iMac due to this persistent issue.

Apple had previously issued a graphics firmware update in December with little success. Today's firmware update appears to address the Display hardware itself. The 27-inch iMac Display Update Firmware is 294KB in size and can be downloaded from Apple's site. Installation instructions are provided here."

posted by blueberry at 9:24 PM on February 1, 2010

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