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#685: Apple Updates! New iMacs, MacBooks, Mice and More


Happy Tuesday,

The long-anticipated new products from Apple were released today with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. It’s always an exciting time around the office when the Apple store goes down, and this round was no exception. Perhaps the most exciting update for many of us is to the Mac mini, which, after these updates, is even more compelling.

Many service customers with Power Mac G5s don’t believe me when I tell them that a Mac mini is faster than their Power Mac in most, if not all, respects—it’s true. I defy you to find a more powerful, less expensive, more energy-efficient computer. In fact, there’s talk of moving away from Xserves here at Small Dog in favor of new Mac minis customized with solid state drives. That move would very quickly pay for itself with the reduction in cooling and electricity costs.

Keep an eye on our Barkings! blog for our reviews of these great new products!

As always, thanks for reading and keep in touch.


  All New 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs!  

Today Apple introduced new versions of its very popular all-in-one iMac desktop computer. The new models boast incredible 21.5-inch and 27-inch LED-backlit displays with a 16:9 aspect ratio, ideal for watching—and creating—high definition movies, editing photos, or making any kind of digital media. The improved larger displays make it easier to multitask and handle everyday computer tasks.

These are the fastest iMacs ever, up to twice as fast as the previous models. The new iMacs feature faster Intel processors across the board, starting with a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo in the entry-level 21.5-inch model and moving all the way up to Intel Core i5 or i7 quad-core processors in the top-of-the-line 27-inch iMacs.

Note that the 3.06GHz processor used in the new entry-level iMac was featured as the top-of-the-line processor in the just-discontinued 24-inch iMac, which was selling for $2199.99 earlier this week. That’s quite an upgrade!

The quad-core Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor in the 27-inch iMac puts four processing cores on one chip, so data doesn’t have to travel far to get from core to core. This boosts application performance up to 2x over the previous-generation iMac. These quad-core processors connect memory directly to the processor, improving memory bandwidth up to 2.5x. This is unprecedented in an all-in-one computer.

The new iMacs feature more standard RAM (4GB, expandable to 16GB), and larger standard hard drives (500GB to 1TB).

These new iMacs also feature a built-in SD card slot for the first time ever, along with four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, headphone/optical digital audio port, audio line-in, built-in microphone, iSight camera and Mini DisplayPort output.

The new iMacs have a new seamless, precision-forged aluminum enclosure, redesigned speakers, edge-to-edge glass on the monitor and a new tapered stand.

The new iMac is the first Mac to come standard with the Apple Wireless Keyboard and the new wireless Magic Mouse. The Magic Mouse is described below, but in brief, it uses Multi-Touch technology to let you click, scroll, or swipe anywhere on its perfectly smooth, seamless top shell.

Going back to the display, the 21.5-inch iMac features a high resolution 1920-by-1080 pixel display (native HD) while the 27-inch iMac features a 2560-by-1440 pixel display offering 60 percent more pixels than the previous 24-inch model. Both 21.5 and 27-inch displays use IPS technology to deliver consistent color across an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle.

The 21.5-inch iMac offers great graphics performance with the integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor or the ATI Radeon HD 4670. The 27-inch iMac comes with dedicated high-performance ATI Radeon HD 4670 or, for top-of-the-line performance, the ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics processor.

The 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1199.99 while the 27-inch model starts at $1699.99. The top-of-the-line Intel Quad-Core i5 costs $1999.99, with an option to custom-order Quad-Core Intel Core i7 for $200 more.

The 3.06GHz-equipped iMacs will be shipping very quickly, while the i5 and i7 equipped iMacs won’t be shipping until November.

  Apple's White MacBook Gains a Unibody  

The white MacBook has been a staple of the Apple notebook line for about four years now. Today, Apple gave it a facelift—it now boasts a curved, polycarbonate unibody enclosure.

Fortunately, the updated white MacBook has new features under the hood as well. Along with the new enclosure and non-slip rubberized bottom (much like the Mac mini, the entry-level machine on the desktop side), it has a (much larger) glass Multi-Touch trackpad, an LED backlight, a longer-lasting (7 hr) non-replaceable battery and updates to its specs.

The processor has been bumped to 2.26 GHz from 2.13GHz and the hard drive is now 250GB (formerly 160GB). The RAM is now slightly faster, with 2GB included (upgradable to 4GB). It now features the Mini DisplayPort, a new standard in video connectivity.

All notebooks meet EPEAT Gold status and Energy Star 5.0 requirements. The LED-backlit displays are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. All internal cables and components are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Overall, the white MacBook now includes things that were formerly exclusive either to the Pro line (built-in battery) or the aluminum unibody models (Mini DisplayPort, unibody enclosure and LED backlight). Many of these features have a reduced environmental impact, which is great to see carry over into Apple’s entry-level machines.

Here’s a rundown of what the white unibody MacBook includes:

  • 13.3-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1280 × 800 glossy display
  • 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
  • 1066 MHz front-side bus
  • 2GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, upgradable to 4GB
  • an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics card
  • 250GB serial ATA 5400 rpm hard drive with Sudden Motion Sensor (in case you drop it)
  • slot-loading double-layer 8X SuperDrive (DVD+ / -R DL/DVD+ / -RW/CD-RW)
  • Mini DisplayPort for video output
  • built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • built-in iSight video camera
  • (2) USB 2.0 ports (and NO FireWire)
  • (1) audio line in/out port, supporting optical digital out and analog in/out
  • glass Multi-Touch trackpad
  • built-in 60WHr lithium polymer battery
  • 60W MagSafe Power Adapter

The white unibody MacBook still starts at $999.99, with multiple custom configurations available as well. More to come!

Read Apple’s press release here.

  Mac mini Updated: Faster + All New Server Edition, Still Cute  

Today Apple announced that the Mac mini has been upgraded with faster Intel Core 2 Duo processors across the board, and now also offers more standard storage and double the standard memory.

Starting at $599, the entry level Mac mini features a faster 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory, a 160GB hard drive, five USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics and a SuperDrive.

The $799 Mac mini features a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of memory and a larger 320GB hard drive, with an option to upgrade to a 2.66GHz processor with a 500GB drive.

For the first time ever, Apple is offering a server version of the Mac mini. This will be very welcome by the thousands of people and institutions that currently use the Mac mini in this capacity. The server version of the Mac mini is loaded with the full, unlimited version of Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server. This specially configured Mac mini also features two 500GB hard drives for a total of 1TB of internal server storage. All this in a tiny 6.5-inch square by 2-inch tall enclosure—the world’s most energy efficient desktop computer.

The server version of the Mac mini retails for $999.99. Snow Leopard server by itself would cost $499 from Apple (or $449.99 from Small Dog Electronics.)

  Even Mightier: The New Magic Mouse  

Apple unveiled the successor to their Apple Mouse (formerly Mighty Mouse) today: the Magic Mouse.

In keeping with Apple’s Multi-Touch technology on their notebook trackpads and iPhone/iPod touch screens, the new mouse does more than your average mouse.

In addition to the standard right/left click, you can use one finger to scroll across the surface, thus eliminating the scroll button found on the Apple Mouse. You’ll also be able to use two- and three-finger swipes, though no pinching to zoom.

The Magic Mouse now incorporates wireless (via Bluetooth) as well—there are no longer two versions to keep both the wired and wireless camps happy. (However, the wired version of the Apple Mouse still exists for those who prefer to keep things physically connected.)

I’m bummed about being forced to go wireless to stay with the newest generation of Apple technology, but I think I’ll soon find it’s worth the batteries. We’ll keep you posted with feedback when we receive them!

Apple’s new line of iMacs will feature the Magic Mouse and it will soon be available on its own, with a $69 price tag.

Watch a video about the Magic Mouse here.

  AirPort Extreme + Time Capsule Update: Better Speed, Range  

Today Apple quietly updated both the AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule Wi-Fi Base Station/wireless hard drive. Both feature improvements in antenna design that provide up to 50 percent better Wi-Fi performance and 25 percent better range than the previous-generation models.

Also, both devices are now certified to the 802.11n specification. Previously, they were certified to the draft ‘n’ spec.

Prices are unchanged for AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule.

  Apple Remote Gets a Shiny Aluminum Makeover  

Apple’s new aluminum remote is now perfectly synched with their aluminum iMac line. Still $19.99 (or included with new iMacs), the remote features the same four directional buttons along with the menu and play/pause buttons.

Apple has shifted the placement of these buttons slightly, but other than that, it’s the same simple sleek remote you know and love with a shiny new finish. It would make a great gift for the holidays for your favorite media-lover…!

  Apple's Most Profitable Quarter Ever  

After the market closed on Monday, Apple announced fourth-quarter profits that were simply stunning. Net quarterly profits were up more than 46 percent to $1.67 billion, on revenue of $9.87 billion.

Apple sold 3.05 million Macs (the most ever in a quarter) along with 7.4 million iPhones (up 7% from the year-ago quarter) and 10.2 million iPods. iPod sales were actually down 8 percent over the past year, but this was expected as people move from buying iPods to buying iPhones.

Numerous analysts and commentators joked that someone forgot to tell Apple about the recession.

“We are thrilled to have sold more Macs and iPhones than in any previous quarter,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve got a very strong lineup for the holiday season and some really great new products in the pipeline for 2010.”

It’s interesting to note that Apple would have had even greater sales ($12.25 billion revenue and $2.85 billion of net income) if subscription-based accounting for the iPhone and Apple TV was eliminated. Subscription-based accounting is used to parcel out income from iPhone and Apple TV sales over a 24-month period from the date of sale.

One chokehold on growth is that demand for the iPhone 3GS currently exceeds supply. “Apple can’t build enough phones to meet demand,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Analysts are quite bullish on AAPL stock, recommending investors buy in anticipation of a potentially strong holiday quarter. Gene Munster has maintained his overweight rating for AAPL stock and raised his price target to $277.

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