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First impressions of Apple's new 27-inch iMac

Our first impressions of Apple's new $1,699 27-inch iMac

Man, that's a nice screen. We're tempted to end here, because on the shelf next to any other all in one, the $1,699 iMac and its 27-inch, wide-screen, LED-backlit display might be all shoppers need to see. The updated specs sound great, but in terms of pure screen real estate, no other all in one on the market right now can compete with the new higher-end iMacs.

Apple's new $1,699 iMac and its imposing 27-inch wide-screen LCD. CNET/Sarah Tew

The screen overwhelms the new iMac's other features. The long-desired SD Card slot is of course welcome, but hardly innovative. Adding video input support to the mini DisplayPort jack is also intriguing, but falls a bit flat with the required dongle not included in the box. The new wireless mouse and keyboard have strong design, and the touch-sensitive mouse is intuitive enough as a basic click-and-scroll device. Lateral scrolling and other touch features were less satisfying in our thus far limited hands-on time.

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We appreciate Apple's brute force approach to boosting the iMac's performance, but bringing quad-core to this price range might have satisfied the diehards. We imagine the new iMac and its 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo chip will fly past HP's new TouchSmart 600, and possibly also Gateway's new One ZX6810-01. The Core i5 and Core i7 options, though, make the $1,999 iMac very compelling, and they would have been doubly impressive at $1,699. Perhaps the next refresh.

What we don't miss in the new iMac are some of the more trendy all-in-one features. Blu-ray, touch screens, and wall-mounting can all be useful, but they tend to get marketers too focused on our "digital lifestyle." We're glad to see Apple keep the iMac grounded in its computing roots.

We hope to review all four of Apple's new iMac configurations, and we expect the 21.5-inch $1,199 and $1,499 versions will face tougher competition from their Windows counterparts, some of which have larger screens and aggressive pricing and features. On the higher end, the 27-inch iMacs are more difficult to overcome if your competing product is locked in at 24 inches.

Testing is underway on the $1,699 iMac. You can check back with us tomorrow for the full review.