Columnist: The Digital Media Shortcomings of the New iMac

The old iMac was chintzy plastic, but the new iMacs are once again physically desirable, according to a columnist at on Monday. Even so, he said the digital media features customers have come to expect from Apple are missing in the new iMac.

"Now that weive all recovered from the effects of Steve Jobsi reality distortion ray itis time to reset our phasers to stun and take a critical look at the latest iMac," Jeremy Laird wrote.

Indeed, the new iMacs are poised for the Christmas holiday season, and everyone knows what that means: HDTV. Mr. Laird lamented the conspicuous absence of a Blu-ray or HD DVD option, properly noting that Apple is, after all, in the Blu-ray camp. "Apparently the new iMac does boast internal HDCP support," the author wrote. "So, itis ready and waiting to play encrypted HD content. But without an HD disc format this brand new iMac already feels a little dated."

Another observation is that the iMac doesnit distinguish itself from the notebook line by its selection of CPU. As a result, Mr Laird observed: "the iMac is little more than a glorified notebook PC in a less portable package."

The notable absence of a TV tuner was also noted. It was seen as something that could be added at low cost, yet bolster Appleis image in the entertainment circles.

The glossy screen may have some issues for a few, but Apple feels that this is overwhelmingly popular with typical users. Thatis a toss up. Whatis not, is the HDTV issue, and Mr Laird concluded acerbically: "Overall, the lack of HD video disc or HDTV support is a bit pathetic from a self-styled innovator like Apple."

TMO notes that many of the cool entertainment features that one would like to see may be wrapped up in the politics of the moment. While customers would like to see HDTV tuners, Blu-ray drive options, HDMI connectors, and hardware video encoders in their Macs, Apple still has to make its partners in Hollywood happy, and that could be slowing the adoption of these features while the rest of the entertainment industry surges forward with hardware focused on securing the high ground in the high definition living room. Apple may be left to simply make the iMac as physically attractive and as affordable as possible.