Apple updates iMac line, intros Magic Trackpad

Besides bringing Intel's Core i3, i5 and i7 processors to its iMacs, Apple also releases the Magic Trackpad, bringing the power of gestures to the Mac.

Jim Dalrymple Special to CNET News
Jim Dalrymple has followed Apple and the Mac industry for the last 15 years, first as part of MacCentral and then in various positions at Macworld. Jim also writes about the professional audio market, examining the best ways to record music using a Macintosh. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. He currently runs The Loop.
Jim Dalrymple
3 min read
Apple iMac with Magic Trackpad
Apple iMac with Magic Trackpad. Apple

Apple on Tuesday released new iMacs, adding faster processors and new graphics cards. The company also introduced what it calls the Magic Trackpad, allowing users to have the same type of gesture control that they use on the iPhone and iPad.

The iMacs now use Intel's newest processors, the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. David Moody, Apple's vice president of worldwide Mac product marketing, told CNET that the processors provide up to a 50 percent increase in processing power over the previous generation.

The 21.5-inch iMac starts with a 3.06GHz i3 processor and the ATI Radeon HD 4670 discrete graphics with 256MB GDDR3. The high-end 27-inch 2560x1440 resolution iMac comes with a 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and ATI Radeon HD 5750 discrete graphics with 1GB GDDR5, and costs $1,999.

There are build-to-order options available, including a 2.93GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, a 2TB hard drive, 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), and up to 16GB of RAM.

Apple said the SD slot on the iMac now supports the SDXC format, giving it access to even larger storage cards.

The outside of the iMac remains unchanged. "It's a real simple approach that provides a complete computing experience. Those are the things that really set the iMac apart," said Moody.

Presto! Magic Trackpad
In addition to the iMac, Apple also introduced the Magic Trackpad, a new peripheral intended to bring the power of gestures to the Mac.

Users of the iPhone and iPad are already accustomed to making gestures with their fingers on the screens of the devices--swiping, pinching to zoom a photo, scrolling, and so on. The Magic Trackpad allows the same action on the Mac's larger screen.

The Magic Trackpad is a Bluetooth device that has over four months of battery life and costs $69. Apple is also selling a rechargeable battery pack for $29 that comes with six batteries and will let users change out the batteries in Bluetooth devices like the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and keyboard.

Moody said the batteries were engineered to have a longer shelf life than other rechargeable batteries on the market.

Compared to older iMacs
Apple's last-generation iMac came in two screen sizes: 21.5-inch and 27-inch. There were a variety of options available for the for each of the four available iMac models.

The 21.5-inch iMacs came with a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, 1920 x 1080 resolution, and a SuperDrive. The low-end model came with a 500GB hard drive and the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics card, while the midrange model had the ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics with 256MB and a 1TB hard drive. These iMacs cost $1,199 and $1,499, respectively.

The 27-inch iMac came with a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2560 x 1440 resolution, 4GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and a SuperDrive. This model also came with the ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics with 256MB. This iMac was priced at $1,699.

The high-end iMac was a quad-core that had a 2.66GHz Intel Core i5 processor. It also had 2560x1440 resolution, 4GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, a SuperDrive and the ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB. This high-end iMac cost $1,999.

Update, 9:08 a.m. PDT: We asked Apple whether the Magic Trackpad works with a PC. Without getting into specifics, Apple says there's limited support for running the new peripheral under Boot Camp, and compared it to the Magic Mouse. Guess that means it has basic functionality.