Apple launches $999 iMac for schools; But there's a catch

Apple is offering a discounted iMac at $999 for school purchases. But there are a few catches you should be aware of.

...or four, that I can count.

Apple has quietly launched the entry-level iMac for the education sector, targeting schools, colleges and universities.

Catch 1: Starting at $999 -- reduced from $1199 -- this offer is only available for educational customers buying in bulk.

The model consists of a slimmed-down 21.5" iMac to compensate for the drop in price which includes a 3.1Ghz Intel Core i3 dual-core processor, 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard disk. It also runs the latest Mac OS X Lion operating system, which includes iPhoto, iMovie and the latest version of GarageBand.

Catch 2: However, certain core functionality such as Bluetooth or the revolutionary Thunderbolt port are missing from the iMacs in this offer.

Catch 3: Basically, it looks like a Mac, but performs more like a PC.

Institutions must purchase at least ten or more of the neutered iMacs to qualify for the deal, making the deal seem more expensive than it should.

Apple is clearly focusing more on the education market, even outside of this deal.

Nevertheless, for any school, college or university to invest in a Mac lab for those who have either never used the Mac OS X operating system, or are more suited to use it, is a wise investment for younger people who will find a similar computer diversity in the workplace.

Macs may not be for everyone, but it is worth learning the operating system for future reference. Who knows when one will come across it in the enterprise or the corporate workplace? And what better time to learn something while you are in the depths of schooling anyway?

Catch 4: Having said that, considering that Mac OS X is seldom used in the schooling environment, it would not surprise me if these machines were on the most part laden with Windows when they arrive at schools.

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