Just in time for the holiday sales rush, Apple has updated much of their Mac line.
The iMac now have larger screen sizes and LED-backlit displays. The 20-inch model is now 21.5-inch, while the 24-inch is now 27-inch. While the 21.5-inch is only available as a dual-core, the 27-inch can be bought as a dual or quad-core. The aspect ratio has been changed to 16:9 which will be an improvement for multimedia viewing. The back is aluminum now instead of black. The black backing felt out of place on the previous iMacs. The 27-inch model is also VESA mount compatible as well as capable of accepting video input. All models are available now except for the quad-core iMac, which is coming in November. iMac prices begin at $1199.
The entry level MacBook is still white and plastic, but is now unibody like the MacBook Pro. The unibody gives it a cleaner, more simplistic look. Just like the iMac, the MacBook has a LED-backlit display. The MacBook also includes a multi-touch glass trackpad and an all rubber bottom reminiscent of the Airport Extreme’s underside. The built-in battery seen on the Macbook Pros is now present in the Macbook. The 7-hour battery is not user removable. This is not that big of a deal as many users do not use multiple batteries and the battery life is very long. There are a few downsides to the updated MacBook. It lacks any FireWire ports, there is only one port for audio input/output, and it does not have a infrared receiver for accessories like the Apple Remote. These changes clearly cement this model as an entry-level product. Prices start at $999.
Apple has not given the Mac Mini much love in the past. Rumors have circulated for some time that it would be axed, but the rumors are always proven untrue. The Mac Mini has been updated and now comes in the regular version and a new version that has Snow Leopard Server pre-installed. The optical drive has been replaced with a second hard drive. Both hard drives are 500 GB. An external SuperDrive can be used if an optical drive is still needed. There is only one configuration of the server Mac Mini and it costs $999. The regular Mac Mini base price is $599.
The product I am most excited about is the new Bluetooth mouse from Apple, which is called the Magic Mouse. It is a multi-touch mouse which thankfully does away with the needs-to-be-cleaned-constantly scroll ball. Cosmetically, it has a sleeker look than the previous model. The top is clear white plastic. It does not have separate buttons for left and right click but it can be configured to be a one or two button mouse. The Magic Mouse is an inevitable evolution of an Apple branded mouse, as multi-touch has already found its way into the iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac notebooks. If you still want a corded mouse, the Mighty Mouse is still available, which is now called the Apple Mouse. The Magic Mouse comes with all new iMacs unless configured to include the Apple Mouse. It will be available late October and costs $69.
Another product that received a new look is the Apple Remote. It is now all aluminum. This change was bound to happen because aluminum is Apple’s current style of the moment. It is also longer then the previous remote, looks more comfortable to hold, and is less difficult to lose. The play button has been moved near the menu button and the battery can now be removed easily from the back. According to Apple, the remote is “Compatible with Apple products introduced in 2005 or later that have a built-in infrared (IR) receiver” and “requires the iPod Universal Dock and any iPod with a dock connector or any iPhone.” The Apple Remote cost $19 and the Apple online store says it is shipping in 2-4 weeks.
Time Capsule/Airport Extreme
If you blinked, you might have missed the Time Capsule update. Not much in terms of specs, just that the backup speed is 60% faster than previous models (using Snow Leopard). Wireless networking performance was also improved in both the Time Capsule and Airport Extreme.
While the changes to the Mac and Accessories lineup are not revolutionary, they are welcomed improvements.