updated 12:25 pm EDT, Tue October 20, 2009
iMac redesigned for 16:9, Core i7
Apple today completely revised its iMac with a new design and much faster performance. The series now switches to wider 16:9 aspect ratio, LED-backlit displays and a new look with edge-to-edge glass and a seamless aluminum body. The displays are also much denser and start at 1920x1080 (1080p) for a 21.5-inch display and an extremely sharp 2560x1440 for a new, largest-ever 27-inch model. Both now use color-accurate IPS (in-plane switching) displays versus the cheaper TN (twisted nematic) panel from the old 20-inch iMac.
The lineup also marks the first appearance of Intel's Nehalem architecture in a Mac outside of the Mac Pro and sees certain 27-inch models use Core i5 or Core i7 quad-core processors that should dramatically speed performance; the Core i7 part supports Hyperthreading and theoretically behaves like an eight-core processor under certain circumstances.
Apple's design also incorporates important design changes such as the addition of an SD card slot, four notebook-sized RAM slots that handle up to 16GB of memory, Mini DisplayPort output, and the inclusion of both a wireless keyboard and Apple's new multi-touch aware Magic Mouse.
The line starts at $1,199 for a 21.5-inch iMac with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, a 500GB hard drive and a DVD burner. A higher-end version of the smaller system at $1,499 adds dedicated ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics and doubles hard drive space to 1TB.
27-inch models begin at $1,699 with the same specifications as the higher-end 21.5-inch model. A $1,999 model brings a 2.66GHz Core i5 and Radeon HD 4850 video without changing other features. A build to order option exists for a 2.8GHz Core i7 processor.
The 21.5-inch model is shipping immediately from the online Apple Store, but 27-inch models won't arrive until November.