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Flat-screen G4 iMacs and iPhoto Rolled Out at Macworld Expo


In his keynote address at Macworld Expo 2002 in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled redesigned flat-screen, G4-based iMacs and a free new digital photo management application iPhoto.


The radically redesigned iMac heralds what Apple is calling the "death of the CRT." The iMac ditches the bulky picture tube which took up most of the iMac chassis for the last three and a half years, opting for a free-swivelling 15-inch flat-screen display perched elegantly on an articulated chrome arm. That arm connects to the top of a 10.5-inch hemispherical base, which houses the entire computer: logic board, optical drive, hard drive, processor, and power supply. The overall impression is both futuristic and slightly retro: a bit like a personal movie screen set on top of a 1960’s porcelain table lamp. All connectors are on the back of the unit, while the front features a tray-loading optical drive. The iMac’s flat screen is a 15-inch LCD with a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels; it also has built-in antennas for optional Airport wireless networking. Under the hood (er, dome?) the new iMacs sport either a 700 or 800 MHz G4 processor (giving the iMac the horsepower to run iDVD and all pro-level applications, as well as Mac OS X), 128 to 256 MB of RAM (expandable to 1 GB), 10/100-BaseT Ethernet, a 56Kbps modem, five USB and two FireWire connectors, VGA video output, a 40 to 60 GB hard drive, an nVidia GeForce2 graphic controller with 32 MB of video RAM (Apple claims these offer three times the video performance of earlier iMac models), built-in microphone and headphone jacks, and a digital audio amplifier. The new iMacs will be available in three configurations: Apple expects to begin shipping the high-end models (with 256 MB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive, an 800 MHz processor, and a SuperDrive) for $1800 at the end of January. The $1500 model (with a 700 MHz processor and a Combo DVD/CD-RW drive) should ship by the end of February, and a base model (with 128 MB of RAM and a CD-RW drive) should be available by the end of March for $1300. By the way: Time Magazine is running a feature on the new iMac this week.


[TidBITS’s Managing Editor Jeff Carlson has taken some photos of the new iMacs from the Macworld show floor, showing the swivelling LCD, the tray-loading drive, and port configuration.]


Jobs also rolled out a new free media application iPhoto, designed to do for digital photo collections what the free iTunes does for managing digital music collections. iPhoto is designed to simplify the process of importing, organizing, and sharing digital photographs: it imports photos and automatically creates thumbnail and organizes them into "film rolls", and users can organize the images into arbitrary albums which work much like iTunes’ playlists. iPhoto also simplifies the process of printing photos (taking the vagaraties of dealing with inkjet printers under the hood, merely needing to know what printer, paper, and margins you wish to use). Apple has also integrating iPhoto into its iTools suite of Internet services, enabling users to export photos to an iTools-hosted Web site, order Kodak prints in a variety of sizes directly the Internet (integrating the 1-Click ordering concept Apple licensed from Amazon.com), or even order a photo album, with prices starting at $30 for a 10-page, professionally-printed album. iPhoto also offers a selection of common editing features (cropping, scaling, rotation) or can pass image-editing tasks off to another application. iPhoto requires Mac OS X, and is available for free via download now from Apple’s Web site.


During his keynote, Jobs also announce a revision of its popular iBook line of laptops, pepping up the $1200 base model, adding a DVD/CD-RW combo drive to the middle-tier $1500 model, and adding a new high-end $1800 model with a larger 14-inch LCD screen, 600 MHz G3 processor, and 256 MB of RAM, all while maintaining the iBook’s low profile, long battery life, and light weight. The new iBook models are available starting today.


As significant as the new hardware and software announcements, Jobs also announced that, as of today, new machines will begin shipping with Mac OS X installed as the Mac’s default operating system, and this change will be propagated throughout the entire Macintosh line by the end of March. Of course, Mac OS X still includes the Classic environment for running existing Macintosh software, and the machines can still be easily converted to start from Mac OS 9.2 as a default. But the change heralds a significant milestone for Mac OS X: Apple now feels its new operating system is ready for everyone, not just highly-technical users or early adopters.

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