Apple today updated its education store with a new iMac for especially price-conscious schools: for $999, you can buy a 21.5" iMac with a 3.1 GHz dual-core Core i3, 2GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard drive, a Radeon HD 6750M with 256MB of RAM, and a Mini DisplayPort connector - that's right, there's no Thunderbolt port in this iMac, though the computer is otherwise identical to the base-model Sandy Bridge iMac released earlier this year (which costs $1,149 for education customers). 

This continues Apple's tradition of offering discontinued and cut-rate Macs to education-only customers - note that in this case, "education-only" doesn't refer to the Education Store accessible by the students, faculty, and staff members at most colleges and universities, but the special Apple Store available only to people purchasing computers on the behalf of their institution. Apple also offers these purchasers the white unibody MacBook and an early 2009-model 20" Core 2 Duo iMac, each for $899. 

I don't really understand what the market for this thing is supposed to be - to save a meager $150, you lose half your processor cores, half your graphics RAM, half your regular RAM, half your hard drive space, and your Thunderbolt port, and the only part upgradeable when purchasing is RAM (4GB will set you back $90, mostly negating your savings over the base model, and 8GB costs an exhorbitant $270).

There are some very, very limited-use cases in which a Mac is needed and every dollar counts (think kiosk computers or basic computer lab machines), but to me this seems like a poor choice for your money - stay away from this thing unless you have a really good reason not to.

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  • ATOmega - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Any price conscious student should be running Ubuntu. For $999, you can get a pretty impressive PC built. Just scale it down to $700 and you're still doing great.

    Oh yeah, and it will be faster running Linux.
  • zorxd - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Education should never buy all in one computers. More upgradeable and reparable PCs are a much better buy. It's a shame that some tax money will be wasted on this. Monitors do not need to be replaced as often as a computer. And most computer labs in colleges and universities already have the room for desktop tower anyways so space isn't an issue.
  • Wizzdo - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    a) All-in-ones like the iMac are great for schools. Less cords and parts means much less of a tangled mess when you have 100 machines in a room.

    b) Thunderbolt would be useless for the vast majority of them. The the Lan\Wlan is far more important in these situations.

    c) The general stability and ease of administering macs and relative absence of major viral infections alone is worth it. From experience Macs are about 15% of the time and effort relative to the messes made on school Windows machines.

    d) OS X / iOS is state-of-the-art and yet have Unix underpinnings for teaching the command line etc.

    e) OS and application upgrades are generally painless, fast and CHEAP!

    e) Macs have the best real-sale value bar none and tend to stay-viable-in-the-field almost twice as long as PCs.

    I think they could bring the price down even further though. 899$ and they would sell in droves.
  • darklight0tr - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    a) Except for the fact that you are forced into continually buying All-in-ones because the PC is built into the monitor.

    b) True

    c) Ease of administering Macs? Are you kidding? Apple has nothing as robust as the Group Policy for policy administration, SCCM for software deployments/imaging and ARD, while improving, is still a joke. The infection possibilities on Windows based machines decrease SIGNIFICANTLY with limited user permissions and diligent patching (which you have to do on Macs too).

    d) State of the art when compared to what? What version of OS X? Windows and Linux are "state of the art" too.

    e) OS X upgrades go about as well as Windows upgrades and it is just easier to wipe the system and start fresh.

    e2) I agree on the resale value (shiny factor) but where is your source regarding the 2x viability?

    Why would Apple bring down the price more? It would cut into their massive profit margin.
  • cjt- - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    The $150 discount is great if your school overindulges on computer hardware and buys over 500 of these things:

    The best part is that they're only really being used to access some online resources.
  • anuban - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    If any government funded institutions use tax payer money to buy these computers, they would simply be squandering public money. There are simply too many other good options out there.
  • Camikazi - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Isn't squandering public money what government funded institutions do? I thought that was what they were the best at?
  • fatlazyhomer - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Social criticism aside, this is still a terrible deal for any school. There are far cheaper alternatives if all they want is a bunch of web browsers, and far better alternatives if they actually want to get some work done. The only use for a set up like this is to show off the fancy new computer lab to incoming freshmen who havn't yet sat down or inspected the insides.

    Overall, it fits pretty well with the whole Apple mantra of

    "People are dumb, they don't know computers."

    So ya, I guess I'm ending with my own social commentary too...
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    2GB RAM is utterly pathetic in a machine costing $1000.
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    There is a difference. This is STILL better than the $1199 iMac from three months ago. Although not by much. And compared to the current $1199 iMac, it's definitely not worth the price decrease.

    (I'd argue that it's a better deal than the $799 Mac Mini plus a $200 display though.)

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