Apple unveils sleek new iMac

Apple announced the new iMac today at the Apple Expo in Paris. The new units retain the familiar all-in-one format that the iMac has had since its introduction. This time, they have put the guts of the computer directly behind the LCD screen, resulting in a unit with about two inches of depth that rests on a pedestal similar to the ones on the new Apple Cinema Displays. They are available with either a slotload ComboDrive (CD burner, DVD reader) or SuperDrive (DVD/CD burner) which mounts in the upper right hand side of the screen. Speakers are included in the frame of the unit, and all the connections are mounted vertically along the back of the unit starting at the upper right hand corner.

The new machines are available with G5 processors clocked at 1.6 or 1.8 GHz with screen sizes of either 17 or 20 inches. The pricing has been adjusted downwards, with base model configurations (1.6 GHz G5, 17" LCD, and Combo Drive) arriving at $1299 and the top of the line (1.8 GHz G5, 20" LCD, and SuperDrive) going for $1899.

I really like the new look of the units; they match the sleek lines of the new Pro lineup. However, I do have some gripes:

1. The new lineup's design does not have the versatility of the old iMac. The beauty of the last generation was the "floating screen", which could be positioned anywhere you wanted it.

2. What's with the lame graphics card? The only card available is a 64MB GeForce FX 5200 Ultra. I would think that one of the things consumers do with consumer model machines is play games. Apple put a great CPU in its consumer unit, but saddles it with a low end graphics card.

3. Needs more memory in stock configurations. Memory is cheap. Putting 256MB in a machine is just silly, especially when the OS really needs 512MB to show its stuff.

4. Cable positioning could be a problem. All the cables are mounted in the upper right hand corner of the unit and could make it somewhat unstable.

5. I'm still begging for a headless consumer iMac. As much as I dig the new ones, I don't need another screen. I guess it won't happen in my lifetime, but I can dream.

I do like the fact that they have included a digital out for sound, so it is now possible to do full 5.1 surround sound, something that wasn't available without the use of an outboard Firewire or USB unit prior to this. The design looks really sleek, but I am concerned that it might get in the way of usability.

You can take a look at it for yourself here.

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