Government // Mobile & Wireless
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10/20/2009
02:40 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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Apple Upgrades iMacs

This morning Apple announced new iMacs with larger screens and faster processors and a slightly rejuggled pricing structure. The company also introduced a multitouch mouse and tweaked the low-end MacBook.

This morning Apple announced new iMacs with larger screens and faster processors and a slightly rejuggled pricing structure. The company also introduced a multitouch mouse and tweaked the low-end MacBook.In the bMighty guide to Building the Mac Office, the iMac is described as "the cornerstone of any Mac office." That cornerstone has just seen a dramatic upgrade. The previous entry-level iMac featured a 20-inch screen with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 2 GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. Today's upgrade bumps all that up to a 21.5-inch screen, 3.06GHz chip, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Oh, and it's the same price: $1,199.

The top of the iMac line used to be a 24-inch model with a 3.06GHz chip, 4 GB of RAM, and a 1.0TB hard drive for $2,199. Now you can get the same specs behind a 27-inch screen for $500 less. Let me repeat: that's $1,699 for a 27-inch screen, 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 4 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage. And that's not even the top of the line -- in the same 27-inch form factor, you can get an iMac with a 2.66GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 chip (same RAM and storage). That one won't be available until November, but it'll only cost you $1,999, still less than the previous top of the line.

Don't Miss: Building The Mac Office

The price reduction is not as clear in the middle of the line, where $1,499 used to buy a 24-inch model with a 2.66GHz chip, 4 GB of memory, and a 640GB hard drive. Now that price gets you a faster chip (3.06 GHz), more storage (1 TB), and a higher-end graphics chip, but only the 21.5-inch screen. This seems like the weakest value proposition in the line: compared to the low-end model, you're paying $300 more for an extra 500 GB of storage and improved graphics performance that won't be needed for most business tasks; while at the same time, another $200 will bring the same specs but a much larger screen.

Apple also tweaked the $999 MacBook, bumping the processor speed from 2.13 to 2.26 GHz and putting a 250GB hard drive in the base model, up from 160GB (320 and 500GB drives available). What's taken out? Firewire. Apple dropped FireWire from the 13-inch aluminum MacBook released a year ago, and the decision was not well received by the Mac community. Since then, the company added a 13-inch aluminum model to the MacBook Pro line, restoring FireWire to that form factor; but it's now taken it out of the white plastic MacBook. It's a reasonable decision for an entry-level laptop; for business use, the MacBook Pro line is a better choice anyway.

The Mac minis got a boost, too. They now come in either a 2.26GHz/2 GB memory/160GB hard drive version for $599, or a 2.53GHz/4 GB/320GB version for $799. That represents double the memory and a faster chip for the same price. But most intriguing is a new product altogether: the higher-end Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server preinstalled. As Building the Mac Office pointed out, that combination could be an ideal (and, at $999, thrifty) server solution for a small to midsize office with light server needs. It comes with two 500GB hard drives -- but no optical drive -- for a full 1 TB of storage. This is clever packaging on Apple's part and should appeal to lots of Mac-based SMBs.

The last announcement is of a product that probably has to be used to be appreciated -- the wireless (Bluetooth) Magic Mouse with the same multitouch capabilities found in Apple's latest notebooks. The entire surface of the mouse is touch-enabled, so you can drag a finger across it to scroll horizontally or vertically, use two fingers to move through photos or Web pages, and use it with the Control key to zoom in and out. The entire surface of the mouse is the button, with one corner serving as the right button. The Magic Mouse comes with the new iMacs and also is available by itself for $69; it requires the latest version of Leopard or Snow Leopard and a Wireless Mouse Software update.

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