RealTime IT News

Apple's New iMac Is All Display

Apple Computer took the wraps off its new iMac family with a design that puts the entire computer into the flat-panel display.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker introduced three new iMac desktop computers after a two-month delay with the IBM-built G5 processor. The company is taking orders now starting at $1,299 and will begin shipping worldwide in mid-September.

The 17-inch model comes with either a 1.6GHz or a 1.8GHz PowerPC G5 processor, and the 20-inch only comes with a 1.8GHz chip. All come standard with 256MB of RAM (which is expandable up to 2GB). The 17-inch model comes with an 80GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW combination drive, while the 20-inch model comes with a 160GB hard drive and a DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive.

Most striking however is that the entire computer, including the power supply and slot-load optical drive, is built right in to the two-inch thick display. All the I/O ports line up neatly along the rear right side for easy access.

"Just like the iPod redefined portable digital music players, the new iMac G5 redefines what users expect from a consumer desktop," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing said in a statement. "With the entire system, including a gorgeous 17- or 20-inch display, just two inches thin, a lot of people will be wondering 'where did the computer go?'"

The new iMac G5 desktops offer three USB 2.0 ports and two FireWire 400 ports for plug-and-play with peripherals, such as Apple's iPod, digital video camcorders, digital still cameras and printers.

The new model offers an optional internal Bluetooth module and includes a built-in antenna and card slot to support an optional AirPort Extreme Card for 54 Mbps 802.11g fast wireless networking. It also includes built-in 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and a 56K V.92 modem for fast Internet access. The new computers also come with Mac OS X version 10.3 Panther pre-installed. Apple is currently working with developers on its Mac OS X version 10.4 Tiger, but no official release date has been set.

A Merrill Lynch research report released Tuesday called the design "impressive" with the new iMac weighing 15 pounds lighter in its 20-inch incarnation.

However, the financial firm said Apple still has some risks to overcome, including a creative market that might not upgrade, a continued PC share loss and increasing iPod competition.

"Apple would not comment on the IBM PowerPC supply issue, but it would seem improved enough to announce the iMac and take orders to be delivered in later September," Merrill said in its report.

The company could use the boost in desktop sales. While its global PC market share slipped to 2 percent last year from 9.6 percent in 1991, according to statistics published by analyst firm IDC, the Macintosh maker only managed to edge itself up again to 2.2 percent in the April to June timeframe this year.

Apple said sales of its iPod music player and iTunes download site have helped boost computer sales. But the company still makes 60 percent of its revenue from computers.