Apple polishes desktop, laptop Macs

The company adds the Force Touch trackpad to its 15-inch MacBook Pro and unveils a new, lower-cost version of its Retina-display-sporting iMac.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
3 min read

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is getting component upgrades. Sarah Tew/CNET

For many people, Apple is all about the iPhone and iPad, but the company that made its name selling computers hasn't abandoned the Mac product line.

Apple released on Tuesday a revamped version of its 15-inch MacBook Pro, adding the new Force Touch trackpad, among other upgrades. Force Touch uses so-called haptic feedback to simulate the sensation of a physical click. Apple also unveiled a new entry-level version of its iMac with Retina 5K display, pricing it at $1,999, and the company lowered the price of the existing model by $200, dropping it to $2,299. The new machine has a less-powerful processor than the pricier machine. All the new models are available on Apple's website.

Last year's iMac with Retina 5K display. CNET

The Force Touch trackpad is the latest feature making its way through Apple's MacBook line. It made its debut on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new, svelte MacBook. The just-unveiled version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro also features a bump in processor speed.

"The response to the new MacBook and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has been amazing," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement, "and today we are thrilled to bring the new Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage and longer battery life to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display."

While the iPhone is Apple's biggest moneymaker, at almost 70 percent of sales, Macs -- including the popular iMac desktop and MacBook notebooks -- are the company's second-biggest revenue drivers. Macs accounted for nearly 10 percent of sales last quarter, while the iPad tablet contributed about 9.4 percent.

Apple currently ranks as the No. 4 PC company in the US (behind Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo), with an 11 percent share of the market, according to researcher IDC.

Apple said the new MacBook Pro features flash storage that's 2.5 times faster than what's found in the previous version. It also gets an additional hour of battery life, for a total of nine hours of wireless Web browsing and up to nine hours of iTunes movie playback. The new graphics chip from Advanced Micro Devices will render 3D images or run video-editing programs, like Final Cut Pro X, 80 percent faster, the company said.

Last year, the iMac with Retina 5K display was the big advancement in Apple's iMac line. The machine kept more or less the same look as the previous iMac but included a super-high-resolution display. The difference between the just-unveiled entry-level iMac and the higher-end machine? Here are the nitty-gritty specs:

The new iMac with Retina 5K has a 3.3 gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with "Turbo Boost Speeds" of up to 3.7GHz. The higher end iMac, on the other hand, has a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost Speeds of up to 3.9GHz.

The new machine also includes 8 gigabytes of memory and 1 terabyte of storage, as well as four USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The higher-end device has a 1TB fusion drive that combines flash memory with a traditional hard disk drive.