On January 26, 2010 as the New Year just got underway, Patently Apple broke the news about a mysterious device simply called the "Magic Trackpad." Then in June we presented a special report titled The Next OS Revolution Countdown Begins where we discussed new UI possibilities that would be coming to market over the next few years and specifically pointed to a desktop keyboard/touchpad combination device that could bring multi-touch to the desktop. On July 20, the FCC revealed that Apple had asked for a six month confidentiality period concerning a Bluetooth Trackpad that had to come to market prior to August 10, 2010 when the confidentiality period would end. Today, Apple revealed the Magic Trackpad and it's really cool. At some point in time, if it proves to be a smash hit, Apple could provide us with an integrated design as our special report illustrated. Finally, today's report takes a look at Apple's refreshed iMacs and provides you with our first-take on these sexy new beasts.
The Multi-Touch Desktop Experience Begins
Apple's Magic Trackpad features the same sculpted aluminum design as the Apple Wireless Keyboard, and side by side the two sit flush at the same angle and height. Go from typing to gesturing in one motion, or do both at the same time. How perfect is that?
Apple states that swiping through pages online feels just like flipping through pages in a book or magazine – And inertial scrolling makes moving up and down a page more natural than ever. Magic Trackpad connects to your Mac via Bluetooth wireless technology. Use it in place of a mouse or in conjunction with one. The Magic Trackpad is now available at the incredibly low price of U.S. $69.
Some of the technology used in Apple's new Magic Trackpad is actually supported by one of Apple's newly granted patents today on capacitive sensing. Today's granted patent supports the use of gestures on a variety of larger surfaces while being able to distinguish specific gestures from that of a users hand simply resting on the Magic Trackpad. Better still, today's granted patent could actually provide us with a peek into future features that could be introduced at a later date - a feature such as the "Pen Grip" that the granted patent supports. Also see our April 2010 multi-touch patent report.
The iMac gets a Refresh
Of course to go along with your new Magic Trackpad are the refreshed iMacs that rolled out today. In general, Apple has added the Intel iCore i3 to the iMac so that all iMacs are now on the iCore Series of Intel processors.
New is Apple's optional Solid State Drive. Apple says that if you configure your iMac with both the solid-state drive and a Serial ATA hard drive, it will come pre-formatted with Mac OS X and all your applications on the solid-state drive. Then you can use the hard drive for videos, photos and other files. Nice – except for the fact that it will set you back a stiff $600 U.S.
New is the 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750 Graphics card and unfortunately Apple doesn't give other iMac's the option to add that speedier card. Nope – you have to buy Apple's top of the line iMac for that feature - though it's included in the price.
Shockingly, you'll be forced to buy Apple's top tier iMac just to gain access to an i5 based processor. This isn't very competitive considering that Dell, for example, is currently selling an i5 based Tower desktop for about $999 (Canadian) which includes a 24" LCD display. So it was very disappointing to see that Apple didn't slip the i5 down the iMac line-up into at least the $1699 U.S. price slot. Hopefully we'll see the i5 take the two middle price slots in time for Christmas - where it should be.
Disappointingly Apple didn't get ahead of the curve in respect to USB 3.0 or faster Firewire as was rumored and hoped for. With the iPhone shifting to LTE next year, Apple should have pushed for the faster I/O now. Apple also continues to ignore Blu-ray which should at least be an option on their top iMac by now.
Is Intel's Sandy Bridge around the Corner?
Like always, if you need a Mac for back to school or your old one has come to the end of its life, then the new iMacs are a decent upgrade. On the other hand if you could wait it out, Apple should be taking the iMac to the next level with Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture sometime between Q4 2010 and the first half of 2011.
During Intel's financial conference this month, Paul Otellini hinted that Sandy Bridge, the next generation micro architecture could ship in systems in time for Christmas. They were supposed to be shipping the new processors to PC OEM's in Q4 for Q1 2011 systems. But Otellini stated that Intel has accelerated their 32mn Sandy Bridge schedule which would translate to at least shipping them out one quarter earlier.
Here's what Otellini stated: "In closing, I want to mention our upcoming product family codenamed Sandy Bridge. Last quarter I mentioned that we were broadly sampling this product to our customers. I'm more excited about Sandy Bridge than I have been on any product that the company has launched in a number of years.
Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32nm factory ramp, and have raised our CapEx guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand."
Whether Apple will pass on Sandy Bridge based iMacs for this Christmas is unknown at this time. However, we may hear more about the timing of Sandy Bridge at Intel Developer Conference (IDF) starting on September 13, 2010 in San Francisco.
Sandy Bridge is promising to boost all things 3D and HD - with full support for Blu-ray (if that means anything to Apple). Intel provided us with hints during a keynote at CES 2010 that a 3D internet experience and other applications would require a minimum 4-core if not an 8-core Sandy Bridge based system.
If this interests you in any way and you're able to to put off an iMac purchase until then, by all means do so. On the other hand, if you're in need of a new iMac now - then Apple's sexy little iMac will be an excellent choice as always - especially if you venture into buying one with with the new Magic Trackpad.
Now it's your turn. What's your take on the new iMacs?