updated 05:20 am EDT, Fri October 1, 2010
Simtek sending sample displays to Cupertino
A new report has surfaced claiming that Sintek Photronic, a well-known supplier of large touchscreen panels, has sent samples to Cupertino for testing. It's purported that the panels are destined for pre-production versions of a forthcoming touchscreen-based iMac. The latest news adds weight to the once-idle rumors circulating in recent months that Apple plans on adding a third iMac model to its current range of 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac offerings.
According to the DigiTimes story, the sample displays are projected capacitive touch panels. Simtek has the production capability to supply the screens Apple may require. Using a new layering method, perhaps developed by Apple itself, the touch sensors would be integrated into the glass, rather than layered on top. This would make for a thinner, lighter panel that also maintains wide viewing angles. Apple's current line of iMac use high-quality IPS displays with 178 degree viewing angles, making the preservation of viewing angles a likely priority for any touchscreen iMac.
Just last month, it was revealed that Apple has applied for a patent covering a hybrid iMac interface with a special hinge allowing it to be used in a traditional mouse and keyboard mode, or in touch mode. The proposal also refers to special sensors such as accelerometers that would automatically sense the different screen orientation and would intuitively switch modes. There is even a suggestion that when in touchscreen mode, the iMac may transition from OS X to iOS, in a move likely aimed to leverage the runaway success of Apple's iOS operating system and App Store.