Apple has unveiled its all-new, flat-panel G4-based iMac at Macworld Expo San Francisco 2002. Apple CEO Steve Jobs shrugged off the leak from Time magazine to introduce the new consumer desktop Mac to rapturous applause – and to say goodbye to the three and a half year-old CRT iMac, which has sold over six million units.
The iMac has been completely redesigned "from the ground up" – now based around a 15-inch LCD flat screen that can be easily adjusted by height or angle.
Jobs described the innovative new iMac as "the best thing we've ever done" – and it certainly looks like no other personal computer on the planet.
"I expect the demand to be… large," he told his keynote audience, with a wide grin. Genentech, a biotech company, has already ordered 1,000 of the new iMacs, Jobs revealed.
Technical tour de force The charismatic Apple boss told the audience that Apple "passionately believed" that the iMac's all-in-one form factor should stay – but was in need of a radical change.
He explained that the curious half-spherical shape with adjustable LCD screen came about by "letting each element be true to itself". He described it as a "technical tour de force" with "superior ergonomics".
"The new iMac has a beauty and grace that will last a decade," he exclaimed, beaming with pride.
The new iMac was designed by the same team that designed the original iMac – run by young Brit Jonathan Ive.
Ive explained that the new machine "had to be revolutionary". "It appears to defy gravity," he said on a video run by Jobs after the announcement. "Like all the greatest ideas, it seems so simple and obvious now – but was so elusive."
"It's hard to give a computer personality," said Ive, "but it's infinitely more satisfying to do so."
The base measures 10.5 inches in diameter, and includes all the drives, connectors and power supply. The optical drive is positioned at the front of the base, but is not slot-loading – due to the top-end model's SuperDrive configuration.
G4 power and SuperDrive for consumers The new iMac features either a 700MHz or 800MHz PowerPC G4 processor – compared to the old iMac's less powerful G3 chip. The top-end model features Apple’s DVD-R SuperDrive for playing and burning CDs and DVDs. The new iMac line is made up of three models, starting at £1,149 including VAT (£978 excluding VAT).
The new iMac can be fitted with up to 1GB of memory, and up to a 60GB hard drive.
Screen star "The new iMac ushers in the age of flat-screen computing for everyone. The CRT display is now officially dead," Jobs told the thousands of keynote attendees (and estimated 100,000 Web-cast watchers).
The new iMac’s 15-inch LCD flat screen has a resolution of 1,024-x-768 pixels, and offers approximately the same viewing area as a 17-inch CRT display. Apple claims that it is twice as bright and three times as sharp as CRTs - with zero flicker. The new iMac's 32MB NVidia GeForce2 MX graphics card with 32MB of DDR memory "triples the 3D performance over previous models", according to the company.
'Ultimate' digital hub Jobs described the new iMac as "the ultimate centre of our emerging digital lifestyle", built to simply connect to digital cameras, digital camcorders and MP3 players such as Apple's own iPod – as well as to run Apple’s "now complete" suite of software for digital photography (the new iPhoto), music (iTunes) and video (iMovie). Each of these powerful but simple applications are pre-installed on the new iMac.
The connectors (positioned at the back of the circular base) include two FireWire and five USB ports for plug-&-play connections to digital devices such as digital MP3 players, still cameras and DV camcorders. The built-in 10/100BaseT Ethernet and 56K V.90 modem remain the same.
Each iMac features an internal 18-watt digital amplifier for stereo sound. The top two models also come with Apple's Pro speakers.
Apple’s next-generation operating system, Mac OS X version 10.1.2, comes pre-installed as the default OS - Classic Mac OS 9.2.2 is also included, and can be set-up as the main OS by those people who still aren't ready for the Unix-based operating system.
Pricing and availability The new iMacs will be available in the UK starting with the release of the 800MHz iMac with SuperDrive in two to four weeks' time. The 700MHz iMac with the Combo DVD/CD-RW drive will be available in late February, and the 700MHz iMac with CD-RW drive will be available in late March.
The entry-level 700MHz G4 iMac - for a suggested retail price of £1,149 including VAT (£978 excluding VAT) - includes: a CD-RW optical drive; 128MB RAM; and a 40GB Ultra ATA hard drive.
The mid-level 700MHz iMac - for a suggested retail price of £1,299 including VAT (£1,105 excluding VAT) - includes: a DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo optical drive; 256MB RAM; a 40GB Ultra ATA hard drive; and Apple Pro Speakers.
The top-end 800MHz iMac - for a suggested retail price of £1,599 including VAT (£1,360 excluding VAT) – includes a DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive optical drive; 256MB RAM; a 60GB Ultra ATA hard drive; and Apple Pro Speakers.
Previous generation CRT-based iMacs – priced from just £699 – are still available on Apple's online store, and in many UK resellers.
Software bundle The new iMac bundles include: AppleWorks 6, Apple Developer Tools X, iDVD 2 (requires SuperDrive), iMovie 2, iTunes 2, iPhoto (available as a free download at www.apple.com/uk), Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, James Thompson PCalc 2, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5.1, Pangea’s OttoMatic, Smith Micro FAXstf X Preview, and Software Kiev WorldBook for Mac OS X.
Visit our Expo round-up pages and picture gallery from the show.