Apple News Briefs
By Anthony Lynn

September 23rd, 2004

iMac redesigned

In a city already known for super-thin models, Apple unveiled a super-thin line of new iMacs last month at the Apple Expo in Paris. Better yet, Apple started shipping the elegantly redesigned iMacs last week. Although on schedule, the new iMacs are in somewhat short supply. For the next while, it's highly unlikely that one will be able to walk in to an Apple store and carry out a new iMac on the same day. So, be prepared to first spend some time on a waiting list before getting one. It will, however, be well worth your wait.

Now based on a G5 processor and a 533 or 600 MHz frontside bus, the new iMac models are screamers that appear to have been primarily redesigned for two purposes. First, Apple needed to give the iMac the performance upgrade to keep up with and drive its popular iLife suite. Secondly, Apple wanted the overall look of the machine to remind iPod-loving consumers that Apple makes computers too. In fact, Apple's first advertising campaign for the new Mac is to push home the fact that it's "from the makers of iPod" and that the two products share "the same soul."

In a way, it's very true. The new iMac, like the iPod, is an ultra thin and completely uncluttered design. Only two inches thick, with all of the computer's components well hidden behind the flat-panel screen, the entire iMac is smaller than a lot of displays. And, like the iPod, there's a lot more hidden away inside than one would expect.

For US$1,299 the iMac comes with a 17" screen, 80GB drive, 256MB of DDR SDRAM, 1.6 GHz G5 processor, 533MHz bus, and a Combo drive. For an additional $200, one can get a 1.8GHz processor, 600MHz bus and a SuperDrive capable of burning DVD-Rs. I suspect this will be the most popular of the models. Nonetheless, many will also undoubtedly opt for the 1.8GHz model with a 20" screen, 160GB hard drive, and SuperDrive. This configuration costs $1,899.

A mini-VGA connector, two FireWire 400 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an internal modem and a 10/100baseT Ethernet port are standard on all models. Wireless 802.11g networking and Bluetooth can be added as extra options, as can larger hard drives, and SDRAM upgrades up to 2GB. Like the previous iMacs, the flat-panel display can be positioned at a variety of angles on the aluminum base. Moreover, the new iMacs are decidedly quieter than the previous ones. Apple claims the iMac, at rest, is quieter than a whisper at 25dB. Moreover, all configurations support 400MHz DDR SDRAM and are capable of both analog and digital audio output.

With its compact size and light weight, the new iMac is a desktop computer that can be considered portable. Though you do have to plug it in, at only 18 to 25 pounds it certainly wouldn't be that big of a deal to drag around the house with you. With this design, however, Apple has clearly backed itself into a design hole; to make the next iMacs more compact and uncluttered, the next line of iMacs will have to be literally invisible, popping into existence only when you need them.

Security Updates

In the past couple of weeks, Apple has released a number of security updates. The first update patched many OS X components, but it also created some new problems for Safari and OS X FTP users. Apple was quick to remedy the situation with a new version of the update a few days later.

Apple then released a second security update for iChat users. Apparently, iChat had a vulnerability where someone could send you a link in iChat that could potentially launch an application on your computer. After installing the update, iChat now asks first before launching any such applications.

Be sure to check Software Update in the Apple menu to install these important patches.

.Mac

.Mac users recently were offered a deal on Macromedia's Contribute 3, a decent WYSIWYG HTML editor for those who want to create, edit and manage web sites in much the same way one works with a word processor. Slick and easy to use, Contribute 3 is also tightly integrated with .Mac, allowing users to customize their existing web sites created with .Mac Homepage. If you always wanted to change a little something on a pre-existing .Mac template, Contribute 3 lets you accomplish this. A free 30-day trial is available to .Mac users. If they decide to purchase it before Dec 8, 2004, the program costs US$99, a savings of $50 off the regular price. Upgrading from a previous version costs $49, a $30 savings from the regular upgrade price.

.Mac users can also download the new Spider-Man II game demo. It's contains the complete first level and the interactive tutorial. If .Mac users find they can't get enough web-slinging, they can buy the entire game for a mere US$19.99, a 33% savings off the regular retail price.