The flat-panel iMac is a masterpiece of design. Jonathan Ive and his merry band of industrial design gods made it a unique and groundbreaking computer. Although an iMac will jazz up any desk, the iGo is a desk designed with the iMac in mind, and the two together are quite a sight.
There are two versions of the iGo: one for standing at, and one for sitting at. The standing version has feet; the sitting has castors. Otherwise, they are just at different heights.
While the iGo is visually stunning, the practicalities of the design are limited. There’s a shelf for the keyboard and mouse, but no room for anything else. This immediately made me think that this is a computer desk for true minimalists, though I’m not sure if such a person exists. There’s a shelf – well, a flat surface where the legs are held together – that’s small and flimsy, and unsuitable for big stuff like printers. You might balance your iPod there, or a digital camera, but not both. The more I sat at the desk, the less likely it seemed that it was designed for real users. It left me wondering exactly who it is aimed at.
That said, it’s beautifully designed. Wires are hidden in the base, and discreetly coiled away with the wire-tidying spring. There’s a light in the base. too, which sets the look off beautifully, but does little else. The keyboard and mouse rest is reversible to cater for southpaws like me. A couple of dimples at the back of the rest are for your Apple Pro Speakers. There’s not much else to it, but being a piece of minimalist sculpture I suppose there shouldn’t be.
If I haven’t put you off with the impracticalities of a desk you can’t put things on, then you’ll need to put the iGo together. It seemed a bit daunting at first: there are lots of pieces, and it’s spine-crunchingly heavy. However, the instructions are clear, parts are numbered, tools are provided, and it took no more than 25 minutes to finish, even at a leisurely pace. The pieces fit together and gradually the structure becomes more solid. It seems well geared to take the weight of the iMac – even the new 20-inch version. The only niggle is the keyboard rest, which seems flimsy. It’s fine for occasional use, though, and as there’s no room for elbow resting it should be up to the job.
If you want to buy an iGo for your study or bedroom, I would think long and hard about it. If its new home looks anything like an Ikea catalogue, you’ll be alright. If it’s to be wedged between a filing cabinet and a photocopier, think again. I think iGo’s forte will be in public places where the design can be appreciated and the impractical aspects are less apparent.
The price tag is also more suited for businesses – or at least style-gurus. Home users would quickly figure out that $399, plus $89 shipping, plus import duty, quickly mounts up to half the cost of an iMac. But when you’re buying a piece of design like this, cost becomes secondary to the effect.