Rumor has it that Apple is poised to introduce some new iMacs in the not-too-distant future. Since the introduction of the first iMac in 1998, it has represented the cutting edge of Apple’s unusual designs for computers.
The first iMac, like all iMacs to date, was an all-in-one unit. It was unique in a few ways, though. First, the form factor was unlike anything anyone had ever seen, and second, it was the first Mac to come without a floppy disk drive. It was based around a 233MHz PowerPC chip, shipped with a 24x CD-ROM drive and supported up to 256MB of RAM. It was also the first popular computer system to do away with legacy peripheral ports, opting instead to use USB for everything.
Over the next few years, Apple would offer periodic revisions to the iMac, including a variety of colors and patterns, but the basic design stayed the same until the flat-panel iMac was released in 2002.
Steve Jobs declared the CRT dead (although it made a reappearance in the suspiciously early-iMac-like eMac for educational markets) and a new era was born.
The flat-panel iMac was even more unlike anything the public had seen, and generated a huge amount of buzz. It was also, as a result of the flat-panel LCD being used, expensive for the amount of power being offered. Especially when compared with comparably equipped PCs of the time. The new iMac did come with a G4 chip in the consumer space, though, something that hadn’t been offered before.
The initial flat-panel iMac design served Apple until 2004, when the G5-based iMac was released. This again represented a significant change in the aesthetic of the iMac, with the flat-panel monitor and computer being integrated into one unit. Interestingly, this design went against the very design ideals that Steve Jobs had in the initial flat-panel design of the iMac (having the monitor and computer integrated into one unit was something Jobs considered undesirably clunky). This same form factor has served us until today, and considering it’s been almost three years, the iMac is definitely due for another dramatic reinvention.
The question then becomes, what will be different? Here are the things I think will be in the new iMac based on patents Apple has applied for, the Jobsian desire for things to be great, and a lot of speculation.
- an Intel chip (duh). But it won’t be a desktop chip. Like the current iMacs, it will run off a laptop chip, but it’ll have a better excuse for doing so.
- Quad core – I wouldn’t be too terribly surprised to see a quad-core chip available in the highest end model, much in the same way the top-end Mac Pro has a 3.0GHz Xeon chip that isn’t available to other manufacturers (yet). Intel has made no secret of their desire to get more cores running in desktop and laptop computers, and Apple is rapidly becoming one of their highest profile customers.
- Wireless keyboard and mouse as standard. This isn’t much of a leap. Expect to see the computer have some kind of convenient built in charging station, as well.
- iPod dock – this is a big maybe, since Apple seems resistant to including it on Macs. If any Mac were going to get it at this point, I would expect it to be the iMac (especially since this is the machine that iPod loving Windows users are likely to migrate to).
- New video chipset – either the NVidia 8×00 series, or the ATI x2×00 series graphics. Which one is in there as standard may depend entirely on which manufacturer offers Apple a better deal. Whichever way they go, hopefully it’s with a chipset that uses its own dedicated video RAM.
- AMD processor – this is pretty unlikely, but if AMD is able to offer Apple a great deal on a processor and ATI graphics chipset combination, we may see the first Apples using AMD processors as a result.
- Support for more RAM. The iMacs are currently limited to 3GB of RAM, and with the amount of users wanting to run Mac OS X and Vista simultaneously, it isn’t enough. Expect support for at least 4GB of RAM, but don’t be surprised if it supports 8GB (but likely will only include 4 RAM sockets).
- Touch screen functionality – Apple has developed a very unique interface for the iPhone. This could easily spread to the Mac.
- Removable LCD flat panel display – this would go with the touch screen sensitivity and wireless keyboard and mouse. Imagine a display you can detach from the computer and use wirelessly from anywhere in the house. Technically, the computer (processor, RAM, video chipset) could be contained in the display. Battery-draining components could remain in the “base station”, including hard drive and optical drive. This would allow users the best of both worlds…portability around the house, coupled with the flexibility of a desktop computer, and their battery wouldn’t be draining every time the hard drive was accessed. This would be the unique identifier for this new iMac, and could potentially revolutionize the way computers are used.
Again, all of this is based on speculation, and I’m curious to see if any of my predictions will come true. The question also becomes, would you buy an iMac containing the functionality above?
Would you buy an iMac with the above-mentioned "wireless display"?
- I would - I don't care about the price! (27%)
- I would if it cost $1,500 or less (23%)
- You couldn't get me to buy this at gunpoint. (20%)
- I would if it cost $1,000 or less (17%)
- I would if it cost $2,000 or less (13%)
Total Votes: 30