Apple today revamped its iMac, MacBook and Mac mini lines in a long-expected refresh that company executives hinted yesterday was imminent.
But as is Apple's custom, the company did not lower prices for the least-expensive new models.
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"Same old, same old," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "Boring."
The new iMacs -- 21.5-inch and 27-inch models -- replace the former 20-inch and 24-inch iMacs, and are priced starting at $1,199. The low-end MacBook also remains at the $999 mark, putting an end to talk by analysts that Apple would drop the price of its entry-level notebook, perhaps as far as $699.
While the three lowest-priced iMacs are powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 3.06GHz, the priciest model, the $1,999 27-in. iMac, is equipped with a 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 quad-core processor. Customers can swap out that CPU for a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core for an additional $200. This is the first time that Apple's dropped a quad-core processor into its iMac desktop line, but buyers will have to wait if that's the iMac they want: The quad-core models don't ship until next month.
Storage space has also been boosted in the new models. The $1,199 iMac comes with a 500GB hard drive -- versus the 320GB drive in the older 20-in. iMac -- while the other three models come with a 1TB drive as standard. All boast 4GB of RAM.
The new iMacs' profile is significantly wider to accommodate the larger displays and features an all-aluminum back, replacing the black plastic used on earlier models.
Prices range from $1,199 for the low-end 21.5-inch iMac to $1,499 for the upper-end 21.5-inch, and $1,699 and $1,999 for the two configurations of the 27-inch system. The latter two are priced $100 and $200 less than the corresponding 24-in. iMacs that they replaced.
Apple's lowest-priced iMac uses the Nvidia GeForce 9400 integrated graphics, includes four USB ports, a single FireWire 800 port and a new SD card slot, the latter positioned below the optical-drive slot and designed to accept memory cards -- like the kind used in most digital cameras -- for quick copying of images and video. The higher-priced iMacs feature an ATI Radeon HD 4670 or 4850 graphics card with 256MB or 512MB of memory.
All the iMacs come with a wireless keyboard and Apple's new wireless Magic Mouse, which the company bills as the first multi-touch mouse. The top surface of the Magic Mouse accepts several gestures; a two-fingered swipe within Safari, for example, moves back or forward a page in the browser.
The last time Apple refreshed its iMac line-up was March 2009, when upgraded the desktops with faster processors, more memory and storage, and more capable graphics. At the time, Gottheil called the new models "underwhelming."
Apple also retooled the MacBook, which like its more costly MacBook Pro brethren, now comes in a sleeker case. Although the $999 13.3-inch MacBook features a "unibody" enclosure, the material remains polycarbonate, not the more stylish and sturdy aluminum used in the MacBook Pro line.