Apple unveiled its new iMac G5 at a special press event in San Jose, California on Wednesday. The new iMac G5 starts at £899, and includes new software and new functionality – including a remote control and built-in iSight webcam. The new iMac G5 will be available next week, according to Apple.

The new iMac ships with a remote control that allows users to view video content, listen to music and view videos without needing to be right in front of the computer. It also ships with a built-in version of Apple’s iSight, a video webcam that up to now has been available only as an add-on peripheral.

The new iMac G5 has a more slender profile than its predecessor – up to 1/2 inch thinner and 15 per cent lighter. It also features new software as standard issue: Front Row and Photo Booth.

New software

Front Row is what interacts with the simple remote control Apple now includes with the iMac. Front Row can control DVD and iMovie playback, and gives users a way of watching QuickTime movie trailers, as well as music videos and television shows purchased from the iTunes Music Store using iTunes 6, also announced Wednesday.

Photo Booth lets users take snapshots using the iSight camera, then add visual effects such as sepia tint, x-ray, bulge and squeeze. Once you’re done playing with your pictures you can share them using Apple’s Mail application, iPhoto, or save them as icons iChat and Address Book.

Improved performance and better hardware

As with its predecessor, the iMac G5 is available in 17-inch and 20-inch widescreen configurations. But under the hood the systems use faster processors; the 17-inch model has been bumped from 1.8GHz to 1.9GHz, and the 20-inch from 2.0GHz to 2.1GHz. Frontside bus speed has been bumped from 600MHz to 633MHz on the 17-inch and from 667MHz to 700MHz on the 20-inch.

The 17-inch model features a 160GB hard disk drive, while the 20-inch gets a 250GB hard disk drive. Apple previously offered a low-end 17-inch iMac with a CD-RW/DVD-ROM “Combo” optical drive; now all unites get an 8x “SuperDrive” capable of burning DVD-R media.

The iMac G5 is also the first Macintosh model to feature PCI Express graphics. PCI Express is a growing standard on PCs, and provides faster performance for graphics systems than what the AGP interface on previous models is capable of doing.

ATI’s Radeon X600 Pro is featured on the 17-inch iMac G5, while the 20-inch model gets the Radeon X600 XT. Both systems are coupled with 128MB VRAM. They ship standard with 512MB of 533MHz DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2.5GB, and also feature built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate).

The new iMac G5 also ships standard with Apple’s multi-button Mighty Mouse.

Read about the latest iPods here.