Apple updates iMacs, releases Magic Trackpad and Battery Charger

Australian Macworld staff
27 July, 2010
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As we previously speculated, Apple has updated its iMac range with four new models. The update also included the widely rumoured Magic Trackpad (which is a possible add-on to the Magic Mouse that comes with the iMac, not a replacement), and an Apple Battery Charger (which we tweeted about before the store went down – thanks Mr X).

New iMacs – up to quad core

Chief among the new features of the iMac is the use of Intel’s newer Core architecture across the line. In the previous iteration, the lower-end iMac models used Intel Core 2 Duo chips; now, all the iMacs sport a variety of Core i3, i5, and i7 chips.

As with its predecessor, the new iMac comes in two models: 21.5in and a 27in. The 21.5in model has three processor options: a 3.06GHz Intel Core i3, a 3.2GHz Intel Core i3, and a 3.6GHz Intel Core i5. All three processors sport a 4MB level 3 cache and support Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost. On the 27in, you can choose from four different processors: the same 3.2GHz or 3.6GHz chips as the 21.5in or a 2.8Ghz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 with a 8MB level 3 cache that supports Turbo Boost or a 2.93Ghz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 with a 8MB level 3 cache that supports Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost.

Apple has also now shifted to discrete graphics across the board, provided by ATI. That’s notable especially in the entry-level model. Previously, that shipped with the integrated Nvidia GeForce 9400M. Apple vice president of worldwide Mac hardware marketing, David Moody,  said that the new discrete graphics in the entry-level iMac performed about three times faster than the previous integrated graphics.

The 21.5in model offers either an ATI Radeon HD 4670 with 256MB of GDDR3 memory or a ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory. The 27-inch model with the dual core processor comes with an ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory while the quad-core 27-inch model comes with an ATI Radeon 5750 with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

All models come with one FireWire 800 port capable of powering devices up to 7 watts, four USB 2.0 ports, AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi that’s compatible with 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, a slot-loading 8x SuperDrive, and a 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet connector. According to Apple, the new SDXC card slot can now support newer memory card capacities, from 64GB to 2TB in size.

They also sport built-in stereo speakers, headphone/optical audio output minijack, an audio line-in/optical digital audio input minijack, and a built-in microphone. For video, a Mini DisplayPort output supports DVI, VGA, and dual-link DVI; as previously, the 27in models can also use the DisplayPort as an input port. As always, there’s an iSight camera embedded in the top of the bezel.

By default, all models ship with 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM in two 2GB SO-DIMM modules, an increase of memory speed over the previous generation’s 1066MHz rating. There are a total of four SO-DIMM slots in the machine, which support up to 16GB of RAM. The 21.5in 3.06GHz model ships with a 7200-rpm 500GB SATA hard drive while the 21.5in 3.2GHz model, 27in 3.2Ghz model, and quad-core 27in 2.8GHz model all ship with a 1TB 7200-rpm SATA hard drive. All models also offer a 2TB 7200-rpm SATA hard drive as an option.

In addition, the buyers of the 27in models can also choose a 256GB solid-state drive  —a first on the iMac. Apple’s Moody said that the solid-state drive is available either as a replacement for the iMac’s drive or in addition to the standard hard drive.

The specs and pricing for the four iMac models are as follows:

  • $1599 for a 21.5in model with 3.06GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 4GB RAM, 500GB HD and ATI Radeon HD 4670 (256MB)
  • $1999 for a 21.5in model with 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 4GB RAM, 1TB HD and ATI Radeon HD 5670 (512MB)
  • $2199 for a 27in model with 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 processor with 4GB RAM, 1TB HD and ATI Radeon HD 5670 (512MB)
  • $2599 for a 27in model with 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB RAM, 1TB HD and ATI Radeon HD 5750 (1GB)

A multitouch Magic Trackpad for desktops

The Magic Trackpad is a multitouch trackpad for any Mac desktop and costs $99. The wireless, Bluetooth-powered Trackpad behaves much like the multitouch trackpads on recent MacBook Pros, incorporating a host of swipes and gestures to better navigate your computer.

Apple’s Magic Mouse has been a big hit, according to the company. “We also recognise that the majority of our Mac users these days use the trackpad, because the majority of our users are notebook users,” Apple vice president of worldwide Mac hardware marketing David Moody told Macworld. “Our notebook users really love the MacBook trackpad.” So Apple decided to build a standalone trackpad to bring the same experience to its desktop users.

The Magic Trackpad is a single surface; the trackpad is the button — again, just like the trackpads on recent MacBook Pros. The device sits at the same level of incline as Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, meaning you should be able to move your hands back and forth between the keyboard and the trackpad with ease.

Gestures include scrolling, rotating, zooming, and more with two fingers, along with three-finger swiping back and forth between web pages, and four-finger Exposé triggers.

Apple says that the new Magic Trackpad is “nearly 80 percent larger than the built-in trackpad on the MacBook Pro”. The company suggests that you could use the Magic Trackpad as a standalone mouse replacement, or in conjunction with your existing mouse instead.

Don’t forget the Battery Charger

The Magic Trackpad runs on two AA batteries. Given that Apple now sells three Bluetooth peripherals that all run off batteries — a wireless keyboard, the Magic Mouse, and now the Magic Trackpad — the company decided to simplify power issues by introducing the $39 Apple Battery Charger. The company sent its teams out to profile the most popular chargers before building its own, said Apple’s David Moody.

The Apple Battery Charger ships with six long-shelf-life batteries that Apple says will retain their charge for more than a year. That allows you to have one pair in your keyboard, one pair in your mouse and one pair in your trackpad — or if you don’t have all three devices, one pair can stay in the charger. In addition, the charger is designed to be energy efficient: it draws ten times less “vampire power” — that’s the amount of power a device consumes when in standby mode — than the average charger available today.

You can read the full press release here.

UPDATED at 9am, 28 July to add extra information on the new products.

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