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New iMac Models Receive Larger Screens, SD Card Slot

Apple's familiar 20- and 24-inch iMac models have been replaced with new 21.5- and 27-inch models that boast new displays, enhanced processor speeds, more capacious hard drives, and other refinements.

In its base configuration, the new 21.5-inch iMac sports a 3.06 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor. A second-tier configuration offers a 1 TB hard drive and ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics with 256 MB memory. Both models can support up to 8 GB of RAM, and can be built to order with a 3.33 GHz processor. The second-tier model can also be bumped up to a 2 TB hard drive.

The 27-inch iMac comes in two different configurations: one with a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and another with a 2.66 GHz Intel Core i5 quad-core processor. This is the first quad-core processor ever offered in an iMac. The quad-core model can also be configured at purchase time with a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor. Both 27-inch models come standard with 4 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM (upgradable to 16 GB), and a 1 TB hard drive (upgradable to 2 TB).

Both the Core i5 and the Core i7 processors feature a turbo mode that enables the chip to switch from a slower four-core mode to a faster two-core mode, increasing the top speed to 3.2 GHz in the i5, and 3.46 GHz in the i7. The Core i5 and i7 are both members of Intel's family of Nehalem-based processors, successors to the original Core and Core 2 line-up.

The 3.06 GHz model of the 27-inch iMac has the same ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics processor with 256 MB memory as the 21.5-inch version, but the quad-core 27-inch models use the ATI Radeon 4850 graphics processor with 512 MB memory (though the former can be ordered with the latter's specs).

New to all the iMacs is the introduction of LED-backlit displays. The 21.5-inch model features a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, while the 27-inch model boasts a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels - that's 60 percent higher than the previous 24-inch iMac. All iMacs also now use IPS display technology to provide a 178-degree viewing angle without color shift.

As usual, the new iMacs come with a built-in iSight camera, microphone, and speakers. Also included is a new SD card slot located below the optical drive, Apple's Mini DisplayPort for connecting a second monitor, built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, and one FireWire 800 port. All iMacs also ship with the Apple wireless keyboard and the new wireless multi-touch Magic Mouse. Users who prefer wired input devices can opt for them (at no extra charge) when configuring their system. The new aluminum Apple Remote is now a $19 add-on (see "Apple Releases Magic Mouse, New Remote, Souped-Up Base Stations," 20 October 2009).

The 27-inch iMac features another nice touch: via an adapter, the model can play video from external sources. This means, in theory, your Blu-ray or DVD player could take over the iMac's screen, effectively turning it into an HDTV. Apple confirmed that it would not be manufacturing the adapters, relying instead on third parties to create them.

The 27-inch model can also be used as an external display for another Mac. For example, using a Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable, you can connect a recent Mac portable to the iMac; the iMac notices the connection and automatically switches to display the contents of the other Mac. According to Apple, the iMac remains on and functional - in fact, it automatically disables most keys on its keyboard except for the media playback keys, so you can continue to listen to music from the iMac and not inadvertently disrupt any documents that may be active. Pressing Command-F2 toggles between Target Display Mode and the iMac's environment.

Accordingly, the 27-inch model is also capable of being attached to a wall mount, articulating arm, or any other VESA-compatible mounting solution with Apple's VESA Mount Adapter Kit.

The price points for the two bottom-tier options - the 3.06 GHz 21.5-inch models - remain the same at $1,199 and $1,499. But the 3.06 GHz 27-inch model is $100 cheaper than its predecessor at $1,699, and the high-end 2.66 GHz Intel i5 Core model costs $1,999 - $200 less than the previous top-tier base configuration. All models are available for order now, except for the quad-core models, which are slated to ship in November 2009.


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Comments about New iMac Models Receive Larger Screens, SD Card Slot
(Comments are closed.)

Brian Thomas  2009-10-20 15:50
re: the new iMac video that the article links to where Jony Ive, Sr. Apple V.P. Design says:

"there's not a detail there that doesn't need to be there, there are no visual interruptions, there's just no other noise. Everything is about the display & therefore your content."

And while he is saying this there is, centered on the silver metal below the screen, a BIG BLACK APPLE logo that does not need to be there-- that does not need to be distracting me from my content.

There isn't anything awful about the design of the new iMac. It's just that it's not a Beatle's White Album kind of design, it's a leaping beast on a classic Jaguar car kind of design -- and I'd prefer, especially now that I'm watching DVD's on my Mac, a black version of the Beatle's White Album design so that nothing distracts me from my movie.

And I really don't like hearing this "who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?" kind of talk here. Apple promos don't have to come on like they were written for FOX news.
Patrick  2009-10-25 07:45
Huh ... that seems a little harsh
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-10-25 14:30
You have to remember, this IS marketing. And in marketing, whatever you're selling really is the best thing to come along ever.

As for distractions, I have logos on my Dell monitor and my MacBook Pro (just the text on the latter), and I long ago stopped "seeing" them.
Steve Bobker  2009-10-26 18:22
Ever hear of silver tape, man? Even a small bit of gaffer's tape? OTOH, why are you looking at the bottom of the box? All the interesting stuff happens up on the screen.
Roger UK  2009-10-27 01:50
To be honest, there is nothing in this article that we can't get from looking at the specs on the Apple Store website. One week after the announcement of the new models I was looking for more professional analysis of the configurations and helpful guidance as to which model I should buy.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-10-27 05:06
Do you have any specific questions? It's not like Apple sends us (or much of anyone) pre-release units to evaluate, and since we have no idea what your particular needs are, there's no way we could offer you any specific guidance without more information.
Richard Costanzo  2009-10-27 06:48
There is only one firewire port on the iMac and I am not a great believer in daisy chaining on these ports. Especially with a camcorder that likes to be directly connected. Is there an adaptor that can change an 800 firewire port into two or three ports?
Thank you.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-10-27 07:31
Most of our readers interested in new models don't like to spend unnecessary time reading marketing material. Apple also rarely explains the differences between previous and new models except to emphasize specific weaknesses. (You may have received this article via email on Monday, but it was written a week ago.)
I would love to hear some real world experience with some demanding apps. I am considering replacing my older mac pro, but want to hear how they do with photoshop, etc.
Bertrand Morin  2009-10-27 17:37
Historically ( and scientifically ), it has always been recommended that at least a "frame" of a distinct color should surround a picture. In the Alunminium iMac, the old metal border did just that, as it allowed a zone between the screen and the surrounding or environment. It is essentially to help the viewer focus on the important matter, that is what shows on the screen. The new iMac is a step back (in the wrong direction, that is).

In the same vein, the finder should be in a plain neutral color; the Preference pane allows this choice, although limited. Those users with the poor screen of their 1-3 years old iMac have problem choosing a decent background as there are too many vertical stripes appearing (discolorations). I used to rely on a Green (Solid Kelp) Finder, but it has turned too distracting. I am now using (and I feel really bad about myself) a B&W picture (Lightning), with dark borders, as to put emphasis on the icons located on the borders.
New is not always better.
Mike Alexander  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2009-11-01 00:14
Will the new iMacs run Leopard or only Snow Leopard? I assume they require SL, but I haven't seen that documented anywhere.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-11-01 13:27
The new iMacs ship with Snow Leopard, and I would imagine it's required. I don't believe Apple has ever shipped a product that supports an earlier operating system.