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Apple Updates iMac, MacBook Lines

Apple iMac
The updated iMac. Click to enlarge.
Source: Apple

Apple loves a big spectacle, but every now and then it's content to do things quietly.

Tuesday was one of those moments: Just a day after stealing the spotlight by posting record revenues and profits for its fourth quarter, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced two new iMac desktop computers with updated internals and true widescreen displays, plus a new MacBook.

The new 21.5-inch and 27-inch models replace the 20- and 24-inch models currently on the market and feature a true widescreen 16x9 aspect ratio display. The new screens are backlit LEDs, similar to the ones used in the MacBook line -- the first time Apple has used these displays in its desktops.

These new iMacs have a number of firsts. Along with the widescreen and LED displays, they have an all-aluminum back, come with quad-core Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) processors and come with an SD card slot.

Apple has also upped the capacity of these machines. They now support a maximum of 16GB of RAM, double the capacity of previous models, and can handle up to 2TB of storage.

Another upgrade: the displays support in-plane switching, or IPS -- a feature previously found only on the Mac Pro. The enhancement means the iMacs retain color fidelity with a wider 178-degree viewing angle. Without such technology, displays' colors can shift when viewed at an angle instead of straight ahead.

The 21.5-inch model supports 1920x1080 pixel resolution while the 27-inch model supports 2560x1440 pixels.

Despite the enhancements, Apple is giving a nod to the price-conscious, with the new iMacs starting at the old model's same base price of $1,199. That sum will get you a 21.5-inch iMac with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce 9400M video GPU.

A $1,999 high-end model due in November will sport a 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, with the option for a Core i7 CPU. It features a Radeon HD 4850 video card.

Magic Mouse

The new models also include a new input device that Apple calls the Magic Mouse. The mouse features support for Apple's multitouch technology -- popularized on the iPhone -- to support trackpad-like gestures and swipes on the top surface of the mouse itself.

Apple iMac
The Magic Mouse. Click to enlarge.
Source: Apple
As a result, users can click, scroll, zoom and flip between pages simply using finger gestures. The device can be configured as either a single-button or two-button mouse.

The Magic Mouse also, of course, works like a traditional mouse, with laser tracking -- a step up from optical tracking.

In addition to shipping with the new iMacs, the Magic Mouse is also available separately for a suggested price of $69.

"The iMac is widely praised as the best desktop computer in the world and today we are making it even better," Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in a statement. "With brilliant LED displays and the revolutionary Magic Mouse, the new iMac delivers an amazing desktop experience that we think customers will love."

New MacBook

The blogosphere had been rife with rumors that the Mac Mini would get an overhaul during Apple's next product update, but that proved not to be. Instead, the MacBook, its low-end laptop, got the facelift.

Apple is giving it the new polycarbonate unibody shell, the LED-backlit display, a glass multitouch trackpad and the built-in battery like the other MacBooks.

Apple promises seven hours of battery life with this new model, and a new battery design that Apple said is good for 1,000 charges -- three times the normal laptop battery lifespan.

The starting price remains $999. It comes with a 13.3-inch display, 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, nVidia 9400M integrated graphics and 250GB of storage.