Magic Mouse, iMacs, Mac minis lead Tuesday Apple update bomb

Apple 27-inch iMacs! Mac minis as servers! New cheap MacBooks! A magical new mouse! Apple opened the floodgates this morning with a bushel of new hardware updates—which should set the company up for a blingin' holiday season.

Apple dropped a hardware update bomb Tuesday morning with a brand-new desktop mouse, new iMacs, new low-end MacBooks, and a new Mac mini. All of the above had been rumored for some time, but a new mouse was the first to captivate Apple fans' attention due to its multitouch makeover.

Named the "Apple Magic Mouse" (please, reserve your snickers for the comments), the Mighty Mouse replacement has no buttons at all and sports a "seamless multi-touch surface." According to Apple, the multitouch surface covers the entire surface of the device, enabling users to scroll in any direction or swipe through webpages just by moving their fingers across the top. It's only available in Bluetooth form; if you want a wired mouse, Apple has rebranded the Mighty Mouse as the "Apple Mouse" and is continuing to sell it.

Apple Magic Mouse

Apple reassures us that Magic Mouse "won't confuse a scroll with a swipe," presumably because of the magical chip embedded inside. Apple is trying to replicate the multitouch functionality of the trackpad on a mouse, but we won't know how successful the effort is until we get our hands on one. The mouse by itself costs $69, but it comes packaged with the iMacs introduced today.


As expected, Apple's venerable all-in-one desktop was also updated with the addition of a 27-inch model and a bump on the lower end to 21.5-inches. The new iMacs now sport 16x9 aspect ratios on LED-backlit screens, at resolutions of 1920x1080 (1080p) and 2560x1440, respectively. What's most interesting about the new 27-inch iMac is that they have Mini DisplayPort-in; this means that users will be able to connect external sources to the iMac's display, such as a DVD player or other computers, essentially allowing them to use the iMac as a TV or external monitor for a notebook. (Imagine Apple's current 24-inch Cinema Display's functionality with the current notebook line, and stick it in an iMac.)

Apple iMac

In addition to the screen overhauls, the new iMacs also sport faster hardware, including the addition of a 2.66GHz or 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 in the 27-inch iMac model. (The 21.5-inch model brings either a 3.06GHz with 3MB L2 cache or 3.33GHz with 6MB L2 cache Intel Core 2 Duo.) This marks the first time Apple has offered quad-core CPUs in the consumer-oriented iMac line—previously, it was limited to the Mac Pros alone. The 21.5-inch version has NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics or ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics, while the 27-inch model has either ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics or ATI Radeon HD 4850 discrete graphics.

Storage-wise, both iMacs come with either a 500 or 1TB SATA drive or an optional (built-to-order) 2TB SATA drive. Like Apple's latest notebook line, the new iMac also has a built-in SD card slot for easy transferring of pictures and other data. Finally, the iMacs come with a completely new wireless keyboard and the Magic Mouse. The 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,199 and the 27-inch model starts at $1,699, and there's a walkthrough video for those inclined to check it out.

Mac mini

Apple didn't forget about the bastard child sometimes-neglected Mac mini this time around, either. The little machine didn't get an external touch-up, but it did get a bump in processor specs, memory, and the option to turn it into a server. The mini now sports a 2.26, 2.53, or 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB shared L2 cache and up to 4GB of RAM total starting at $599.

There's also a $999 mini configuration that replaces the built-in optical drive with a second 500GB hard drive (1TB total) and comes with Mac OS X Server (Snow Leopard) installed. Excitement about the Mac OS X Server Mac mini is somewhat tempered by the presence of 5400rpm drives inside, a tradeoff necessary to keep the price down and retain the mini's form factor.

Apple Mac mini

Apple Mac mini

Apple Mac mini server

Apple Mac mini server


Last up is a new, slimmer version of its $999, entry-level MacBook computer. Apple has managed to shave some weight and thickness by employing similar construction techniques used in its line of aluminum MacBook Pros, but the MacBook retains its iconic white polycarbonate shell. It includes a number of welcome hardware upgrades, but MacBook owners will be once again saying goodbye to FireWire.

Apple MacBook

The hardware inside the new MacBook remains similar to the previous incarnation: a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo processor, mated to an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M chipset with integrated graphics, on a 1066MHz frontside bus. It comes supplied with 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and like the previous version, only supports up to 4GB. The base hard drive is a 250GB 5400rpm SATA drive, with 320GB and 500GB options available. It also includes the venerable 8x slot-loading SuperDrive, and networking options include 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and Gigabit Ethernet.

There are a number of notable changes that come via Apple's 13" MacBook Pro, however. The new MacBook now has a thin, bright, LED-backlit 13.3" 1280x800 display. It also has the same large, buttonless, glass multi-touch trackpad featured on the MacBook Pro line. And, it inherits the non-removeable 7-hour rechargeable battery from its unibody brethren. The port arrangement is revised once again, with the MacBook losing FireWire—Apple is clearly differentiating FireWire as a "pro-only" feature. In addition to a MagSafe power port and Gigabit Ethernet, the new unibody MacBook has a Mini DisplayPort, two USB 2.0 ports, and a switchable analog/digital audio in/out port (which is compatible with Apple's headphones with an inline mic).

Cosmetically, there are a number of changes as well. Similar to the tapered design of the aluminum MacBook Pro line, the new polycarbonate unibody MacBook has gently curved edges. It's ever so slightly thinner, just a hair over an inch thick, and weighs just 4.7 lbs. The entire bottom is one piece, covered entirely in soft rubber like the bottom of Airport Base Stations or the Mac mini, which should make it very slip resistant. It's a small touch, but the integrated iSight has a circular opening to the lens instead of the rounded square of older models. The MagSafe power adapter also includes a revised plug that is highly reinforced, which should eliminate potential for the cord to become damaged or frayed after extended use.

Keeping in line with Apple's green initiatives, the polycarbonate unibody shell is made to be easily recycled. The new MacBook is also BFR-free, PVC-free, mercury-free, and arsenic-free. It meets all Energy Star 5.0 requirements and has an EPEAT Gold rating. Apple even managed to shrink the packaging by another 20 percent.

While price drops across the board would have been nice, Apple has been selling record numbers of Macs without significantly cutting prices. The newest updates are in line with Apple's history of new hardware with new features at similar prices.

Source: ars technica

Tags: iMac

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