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Apple speeds up iMac, bulks up iPod

The new iMac desktop computers boast speeds of up to 1.25GHz, and the two largest iPod music players now feature capacities of 20GB and 40GB.

Apple Computer on Monday introduced faster iMacs and larger-capacity versions of its iPod digital music player.

The two new iMacs boast speeds of up to 1.25GHz, up from a top speed of 1GHz on the prior top-of-the-line model. The two largest iPods now feature capacities of 20GB and 40GB, up from 15GB and 30GB.

Apple said the iMac line is designed for handling media files like music, photos and video and that the goal of the latest upgrade was to improve the components that could improve performance of those tasks.

"That's really what that was about--how to make the ultimate digital hub even faster," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of hardware product marketing.

The prices for the new iPods remain at the same levels as previous models, at $399 for the 20GB version and $499 for the 40GB version. A 10GB version was not updated and still sells for $299.

As for the iMacs, in addition to the faster processor, the new models include USB 2.0 ports as well as faster 333MHz double data rate (DDR) memory and improved graphics. One version comes with a 15-inch liquid-crystal display (LCD) and sells for $1,299. It has a 1GHz G4 processor, 256MB of memory, a combination drive that can play DVD movies and burn CDs, and Nvidia GeForce4MX graphics.

The other new iMac, a 17-inch LCD version, sells for $1,799 and includes a 1.25GHz processor, 256MB of memory, a SuperDrive that can burn both DVDs and CDs, and GeForce FX 5200 graphics.

The desktops both have an 80GB hard drive, two FireWire ports and three USB 2.0 ports. They support Bluetooth short-range wireless as well as AirPort Extreme, Apple's name for the 802.11g wireless networking standard.

Joswiak said the company decided to add a faster version of the Universal Serial Bus connection technology, because more peripherals using USB 2.0 are hitting the market.

"We had no issue with USB 2," Joswiak said, but he added that Apple "didn't want to get into it too early."

Meanwhile, Apple is keeping the standard FireWire connection option on the consumer desktops rather than moving to the faster FireWire 800 ports that are offered with its Power Mac.

"We really see FireWire 800 as a (professional) feature," Joswiak said.

Apple also said Monday that it has sold 10 million songs through its iTunes digital music store. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said it remains on track to launch a Windows version this year.