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Apple's next iMacs rumored with compelling new features

post #1 of 231
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A couple of new features rumored to be in the cards for Apple's forthcoming iMac refresh will up the value proposition for prospective buyers in the market for an all-in-one desktop system, AppleInsider has been told.

One of those features is said to have long been on the wish-lists of many Mac users while the other is expected to cater to the semi-professional audio/video crowd. This is according to cryptic tips from people often familiar with the Mac maker's future product initiatives, but who declined to elaborate because they were not authorized to discuss the matter in detail.

Still, both features have been characterized as significant announcements in their own right, leading some industry-watchers polled by AppleInsider to wonder whether the former of the two will finally see the Cupertino-based company embrace technology once described by chief executive Steve Jobs as "a bag of hurt."

Either way, the new iMac offerings are expected to follow a trend set this spring with the introduction of new MacBook Pros, by which Apple simultaneously shaved retail costs while offering more value through added features such as better battery technology, higher-quality displays, and improved I/O functionality.

So how is Apple, renowned for its traditionally high gross profit margins, managing to achieve this flexibility amid the sharpest economic downturn in its corporate history? Independent analyst Turley Muller, who out-scored all of his colleagues on Wall Street in predicting the company's third-quarter results, is chalking it all up to the iPhone.

He believes the latest touch-screen handsets generate profits so high -- estimated at nearly 60% for the 32GB iPhone 3GS -- that the proceeds from sales of the devices are helping Apple absorbed and offset margin hits in the highly-competitive personal computer market.

"Going forward Apple will recognize higher iPhone revenue carrying a higher gross margin," Muller said. "As iPhone revenue as a percentage or share of total revenue increases, the impact of the higher iPhone (gross margin) on overall (gross margin) will intensify. This will assuage margin pressures Apple faces in other areas."

For example, he added, "we just witnessed, Apple cut prices on its Mac line-up, and there hasn't appeared to be any noticeable impact on overall (gross margins),"

Those price cuts, which were first reported by AppleInsider months before they became official, helped Apple drive sales of more than 1.75 million notebooks for the three-month period ended June, representing 13% yearly unit growth. The MacBook momentum also helped the company set a third-quarter Mac sales record of just over 2.6 million Macs with desktop units factored into the mix.

And while it's true that the future of Mac computing is heavily weighted towards portables, recent data points out of the Far East suggest that Apple enjoys a commanding lead over its peers in the realm of all-in-one desktop systems -- one which it's undeniably looking to fortify.

The Chinese-language Commercial Times reported last month that Apple is expected to ship 3 million of the integrated desktops during the course of 2009, representing nearly half of the 6.5 million all-in-one systems that will be sold this year.

Meanwhile, Apple is simultaneously said to be working on an industrial design overhaul for the iMac line which could arrive as early as this year, possibly as part of the aforementioned refresh. This much has not been corroborated by insiders with any degree of certainty, however. Indications would point to slimmer, sleeker designs akin to the company's relatively new 24-inch LED-lit Cinema Display.

Also in the queue

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Apple procuring video camera modules for next-gen iPod touch
post #2 of 231
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post #3 of 231
Quote:
Still, both features have been characterized as significant announcements in their own right, leading some industry-watchers polled by AppleInsider to wonder whether the former of the two will finally see the Cupertino-based company embrace technology once described by chief executive Steve Jobs as "a bag of hurt."

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?
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post #4 of 231
Personally, I could see Apple putting a Blu-ray writer in the iMacs and Mac Pros, but I think that would cater more towards the professionals. An awesome consumer iMac feature would obviously be a multi-touch screen. Even if offered only on a high end iMac that cost ~$3K, it would probably be pretty compelling. I mean, people are plunking down 1K to get 8GB of ram, why not an extra 1500 for a 24" multi-touch iMac?
post #5 of 231
I'm still hoping that Snow Leopard will announced with blu-ray support and all new macs will at least have a build to order blu-ray option. I'll be looking to buy a mini to sit under my TV within the next year or so, it would be great to get it with blu-ray.
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post #6 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorph View Post

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?

The licensing structure for one.
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post #7 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorph View Post

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?

It's just a guess by some people we asked.

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post #8 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorph View Post

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?

blu-ray drives are cheaper. i saw one at newegg last week for $58. If apple buys 5 million a year then say $20 per drive for them. or maybe less
post #9 of 231
Well, I remember the dissapointment that was the last refresh, I am still using a 17" core2duo iMac, until they get some decent hardware into the mix I wont upgrade.

Still hard not to get excited about an iMac update!
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post #10 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorph View Post

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?

Good to see you back, btw

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post #11 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Meanwhile, Apple is simultaneously said to be working on an industrial design overhaul for the iMac line which could arrive as early as this year, possibly as part of the aforementioned refresh. This much has not been corroborated by insiders with any degree of certainty, however. Indications would point to slimmer, sleeker designs akin to the company's relatively new 24-inch LED-lit Cinema Display.

Joy. An even slimmer design. I guess the likelihood that the iMac will ever get a Quad Core is going down. The iMac doesn't use current 45W Penryn Core 2 Quad or the special 65W desktop Core 2 Quads and Nehalem based quad cores aren't much better at 95W for Lynnfield and 55W/45W for mobile Clarksdale. Further thinning the iMac which will likely further reduce thermal room won't help any.
post #12 of 231
I wonder if we are going to see a Mac Mini refresh alongside iMac or have to wait another two years :/
post #13 of 231
biggest pain is to get clips from a DVD movie into iMovie.
How about Apple start with home movie DVDs without the encryption so I can get family DVD movies into iMovie for further editing. Worry about the DRM of commercial DVDs later!
post #14 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorph View Post

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?

Blu Ray?

What, to just play $30+ Blu Ray discs, or to rip to your high capacity HD?
post #15 of 231
NO glossy screens, PLEASE!
At least two FireWire 800 ports.
Quad core processor.
QUIET.

And, of course, a SUPER Mac mini or a Mac mini TOWER. That is, a headless Mac that is QUIET.
post #16 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

Joy. An even slimmer design. I guess the likelihood that the iMac will ever get a Quad Core is going down. The iMac doesn't use current 45W Penryn Core 2 Quad or the special 65W desktop Core 2 Quads and Nehalem based quad cores aren't much better at 95W for Lynnfield and 55W/45W for mobile Clarksdale. Further thinning the iMac which will likely further reduce thermal room won't help any.

check out Intel's CPU roadmap at AnandTech or Tom's Hardware. I think they are supposed to go all quad core on consumer PC's this fall and a new generation of CPU's on a new manufacturing process next spring.

And the 9400M is getting very old and it's very slow compared to modern GPU's. and I don't think it even supports PhysX. there is probably another integrated solution now.
post #17 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

One of those features is said to have long been on the wish-lists of many Mac users while the other is expected to cater to the semi-professional audio/video crowd. [...]

Still, both features have been characterized as significant announcements in their own right, leading some industry-watchers polled by AppleInsider to wonder whether the former of the two will finally see the Cupertino-based company embrace technology once described by chief executive Steve Jobs as "a bag of hurt."

[...]

Meanwhile, Apple is simultaneously said to be working on an industrial design overhaul for the iMac line which could arrive as early as this year, possibly as part of the aforementioned refresh. This much has not been corroborated by insiders with any degree of certainty, however. Indications would point to slimmer, sleeker designs akin to the company's relatively new 24-inch LED-lit Cinema Display.

So, anti-glare screens and blu-ray in an iMac Air? Maybe someone will make a carrying case for it like those big soft boxes with shoulder straps they used to sell for the original Macs.
post #18 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amorph View Post

Blu-Ray.

I wonder what changed?

perhaps merely that Blu-ray hasn't crashed and burned. it actually looks like it is going to have a market.

that said, I can't see them putting it in all machines. I can see it in the Pro and perhaps the highest 24", perhaps as a custom option on the others.

as for the thinner comments. the thickness is due to the components so it likely won't change too much. not until they go solid state, which is also something I could see being a custom feature at least on the higher end. prices are coming down enough it's possible.

a +3 ghz processor on the high end would be nice. more harddrive and cheaper ram (that upgrade to 8gb is a hurt right now), all probably in the pipe.

touch screen imacs I don't really see as a high market. perhaps an option on the displays for businesses, but I would think that a matte finish option is more wanted than touch screen. again at least as a custom choice for the high end 24" and the display.

and a 30" display and/or 30" imac would probably have some market, particularly if prices came down
post #19 of 231
I think the following would work well for the iMacs, you guys have any feature thoughts?

- Slimmer design
- Blu-Ray drives
- SD Card Slot Reader
- Full LED Displays (currently still LCD+inverter assemblies)
- Backlit keyboard optional
- 2.0MP iSight Camera
- Quad-Core option

Brian
post #20 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by SFSwitcher View Post

biggest pain is to get clips from a DVD movie into iMovie.
How about Apple start with home movie DVDs without the encryption so I can get family DVD movies into iMovie for further editing. Worry about the DRM of commercial DVDs later!

DRM and the ripping unfortunately go hand in hand to some degree. which is why it's not officially supported.

Maybe one day

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianmaier View Post

I think the following would work well for the iMacs, you guys have any feature thoughts?

- Slimmer design
- Blu-Ray drives
- SD Card Slot Reader
- Full LED Displays (currently still LCD+inverter assemblies)
- Backlit keyboard optional
- 2.0MP iSight Camera
- Quad-Core option

if you are looking for professional features, an express slot to attach esata would be on the list. perhaps that SD card slot could be switched on order for such use.
post #21 of 231
One thing that many Mac users have had on their wish list for a long time is cable-in. That would represent a big philosophical change on Apple's part, since integrating cable TV goes against Apple's iTunes-only approach to content.

There have been rumors in the past that Apple would get into the HDTV market and an iMac is basically an HDTV with no cable-in, so it would make sense that iMac would be the Mac that would get the full HDTV treatment.

I don't think this will be a feature on the next iMac, but it's not out of the question.

Personally, I would rather see Apple go the Comcast-killer/Netflix-killer route -- introduce a flat-price package for TV content that includes live sports and news content AND work out better arrangements with the studios for a more complete rental catalog.
post #22 of 231
"Indications would point to slimmer, sleeker designs akin to the company's relatively new 24-inch LED-lit Cinema Display. "


As an owner of an iMac, I don't think the next iMac needs to be any thinner or sleeker. Its thin and sleek enough.

Give it more/better features, ie nehalem processors and blue ray. That would be a good start.
post #23 of 231
Apple needs to get with the program and update it's antique 30-inch displays.

I'm guessing one of the new features that Apple didn't want to go with is SATA. Frankly I'm a little miffed that my Mac Pro and iMac are stuck with old Firewire technology and the Windows world is cruising around with external SATA ports.
post #24 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A couple of new features
...
One of those features
...
while the other is expected
...
Still, both features have been characterized as significant announcements
...
Either way, the new iMac offerings
...

I am so psyched up for this!
Really...
Wait, what am I psyched up for?

Isn't this along the lines of Dean Kamen's IT hype?

Quote:
"This is according to cryptic tips from people often familiar with the Mac maker's future product initiatives, but who declined to elaborate because they were not authorized to discuss the matter in detail."

But they were authorized to say there is "compelling" new features?
post #25 of 231
My money is ready - just waiting for the new iMac to be released - one with snow leopard installed.

So- when will that happen ????
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post #26 of 231
My top three wishes would be:

1. A decent graphics card option for gaming (ATi 4870 or similar).
2. Quad-core CPUs.
3. eSATA ports.

I guess what I really want is a more basic Mac Pro. Some kind of base tower for around £1000.
post #27 of 231
eSATA
Standard desktop memory instead of SO-DIMMs
user-replaceable hard drive
SSD
More USB and FireWire ports
Glass screen with an anti-reflective coating. They work on eyeglasses.
KVM mode to allow use of a laptop with the built-in monitor and attached keyboard and mouse
TV-tuner support in Front Row (why limit ourselves to hardware features)
an off-the-wall one: built-in UPS (if they insist on using laptop components, why not continue the similarities)

I really don't give a **** about Blu-Ray. I don't even watch DVDs on my iMac. And I share my HD videos online or over my home network. Never had a need to create a physical copy as a home user. But I can certainly see the desire for pros. But isn't that what the Mac Pro is for?
post #28 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A couple of new features rumored to be in the cards for Apple's forthcoming iMac refresh will up the value proposition for prospective buyers in the market for an all-in-one desktop system, AppleInsider has been told.

One of those features is said to have long been on the wish-lists of many Mac users while the other is expected to cater to the semi-professional audio/video crowd. This is according to cryptic tips from people often familiar with the Mac maker's future product initiatives, but who declined to elaborate because they were not authorized to discuss the matter in detail.

So... when the new iMacs come out and there are "new features", are you guys going to say "as predicted first by AI"? This isn't news. It's not even rumors.
post #29 of 231
I think we're going to see another lame update that only adds an SD slot and one other minor change like BluRay. With expectations set that low it should be easy for Apple to exceed them.

If they make the darned iMac case any thinner there's zero chance of getting a quad core processor or user accessible hard drive bay. I can't explain why their own technicians haven't lynched Jonathan Ive for burying the part with the highest failure rate in the bottom of the case and gluing foil to it. I would much rather they move to an LED backlit display and use the space freed up for better cooling and re-arranging the components so the ones that are most likely to need servicing are easy to get to.

Intel has few options for the iMac right now. Both the Penryn and Clarksfield mobile quads are priced way too high for what you get. There's no way Apple is going to pay more for an iMac processor than they currently do for Mac Pro processors.

However, that brings up a very interesting topic. Intel does have a low power, quad core (8 thread) Nehalem Xeon that draws only 60W. The current high end iMac needs 55W for its CPU and northbridge combo so a 60W CPU with integrated northbridge isn't much of a stretch. In addition the price of the 2.26GHz Xeon is almost identical to the price of the 3.06GHz mobile Penryns in the iMac so it's completely doable.

Convincing people that 8 threads at 2.26GHz with a turbo mode that can clock individual cores much higher is a suitable replacement for a 2 thread processor at 3.06GHz seems like something Apple could pull off.

Convincing us that a 4 thread processor running at just 1.73GHz is an improvement would require Steve Jobs to extend his reality distortion field by several orders of magnitude.
post #30 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by philu View Post

eSATA
Standard desktop memory instead of SO-DIMMs
user-replaceable hard drive
SSD
More USB and FireWire ports
Glass screen with an anti-reflective coating. They work on eyeglasses.
KVM mode to allow use of a laptop with the built-in monitor and attached keyboard and mouse
TV-tuner support in Front Row (why limit ourselves to hardware features)
an off-the-wall one: built-in UPS (if they insist on using laptop components, why not continue the similarities)

I really don't give a **** about Blu-Ray. I don't even watch DVDs on my iMac. And I share my HD videos online or over my home network. Never had a need to create a physical copy as a home user. But I can certainly see the desire for pros. But isn't that what the Mac Pro is for?

Ya want a Mac Pro then.
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post #31 of 231
This article was so awkwardly written that I had to read the first few sentences a few times to understand what it was even about. I was then dismayed to find that it isn't about anything.

I love AppleInsider (and have been a reader for a long time), but it's sad to see articles like this.
post #32 of 231
I'm not really sure what the point of this article is, as I would be surprised if the iMac did not come with new features.

Regardless, I'd like to see Blu-ray drives and an SSD in the new models. I'm hoping that Blu-ray support in FCS3 (albeit very basic) signifies a softening of Apple's policy.
post #33 of 231
i agree that the current imac range is thin enough and would better benefit from updated and new features.

a matte screen would be a very important feature. Personally i dont mind them much for average use but i have one of the glossy screens and 2 older imacs in a small design studio and guess which one makes us close the blinds?

i think if they manage to gain enough space they could add a laptop battery option to an imac to have a built in ups. With all the fuss about time machine etc - this feature might go down well with pros not wishin to spend on a mac pro

and yeah mr jobs i love that expression - "bag of hurt" but i use it when i think of the gaping hole in the line up. I think any person using a mac in any professional capacity craves beautifully designed tower which is small and light (mac pro is exp even cos of its case and shipping) - a single desktop class cpu will do (esp since quad and 6 core cpus are moving along. Space for 2 hard drives. Maybe space for 2 X 3.5 inch and 2X 2.5 (booting from an ssd is an option for xserves!). Single optical drive, memory card slot. Upgradable gfx card with both mini display port and dvi connectors and and perhaps 2 pci x slots for unternal expansion (sound video i/o). Esata doesn't need anything other that the right connectors off the motherboard so it would be nice but not essential as fw is still decent enough.

i think they could make a beautiful, compelling machine that might cannabalise their imac market but i think it will add a couple more % points to their overall marketshare. IT will also mean that people will replace their machines more often. If i buy a mac pro today i know i'll want 5 years out of it. If i buy somethin as above i'll expect to change it after 3.
post #34 of 231
Thanks for nothing AI.
post #35 of 231
The problem I have with Blu-ray drives being included as an option is that we still dont have support at the OS level to make AACS encrypted video play in HD. Apple could have included that and then let their customers buy external drives for Blu-ray playback but they havent. They also havent included it Snow Leopard as of yet. The licensing has been simplified more than enough time to at least get that ball rolling and its not in Apples favour to make Blu-ray on a PC a big to-do when they are clearly pushing their digital content as a "good enough" quality, convenient alternative to buying a Blu-ray player.

Its a tactic that seems to be working when you consider that people with Blu-ray drives prefer them for large HD TVs, not relatively small PC screens, and when DVD and upconverting-DVD players still offer a "good enough" alternative for many over Blu-ray. Blu-rays resolution and bitrate is by far superior to anything Apple can push over the web at this point, but best doesnt always win out in tech, its usually good enough coupled with convenience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post

blu-ray drives are cheaper. i saw one at newegg last week for $58. If apple buys 5 million a year then say $20 per drive for them. or maybe less

But not the slim, slot loading drives that fit into the iMacs.
post #36 of 231
Almost Certain
Speed bump in both processor and RAM
Better video card options
Slimmed down
SSD

Maybe
Quad Core(in higher end)
More ports
Blu-ray - people may say that they won't watch blu-ray, but you can burn blu-ray in fact FCP now supports it
1.5-2 TB support
eSATA(high end only)
5.0 MP iSight (many of you seem to have forgotten that Apple ordered 5 MP cameras a while back, more likely to go into an imac than a tablet.)

Definitely Not
Multi-touch
USB 3.0
Nehalem Xeon (will never happen in the imac xeon is a server processor)
post #37 of 231
Wish list:

anti-reflective glass
user accessible hard drive
LED backlighting
Serious processor option like the Xeon L5520 processor (2.26GHz 4 core 8 thread 60W Nehalem)
Serious GPU (the GT120 may be discrete, but it's a joke and the GT130 isn't worth the insane upgrade price)

eSATA would be nice, but FW800 is fast enough for anything less than a multi-drive array.
More USB ports would also be nice. Even the mini has 5 now.
Another nice option would be the one they now offer for the xServe, an SSD boot drive plus the standard drive bay for high capacity storage. Maybe offer people a choice between a 3.5" drive or two 2.5" drives.
post #38 of 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post

The problem I have with Blu-ray drives being included as an option is that we still don’t have support at the OS level to make AACS encrypted video play in HD. Apple could have included that and then let their customers buy external drives for Blu-ray playback but they haven’t. They also haven’t included it Snow Leopard as of yet. The licensing has been simplified more than enough time to at least get that ball rolling and it’s not in Apple’s favour to make Blu-ray on a PC a big to-do when they are clearly pushing their digital content as a "good enough" quality, convenient alternative to buying a Blu-ray player.

It’s a tactic that seems to be working when you consider that people with Blu-ray drives prefer them for large HD TVs, not relatively small PC screens, and when DVD and upconverting-DVD players still offer a "good enough" alternative for many over Blu-ray. Blu-ray’s resolution and bitrate is by far superior to anything Apple can push over the web at this point, but best doesn’t always win out in tech, it’s usually “good enough” coupled with convenience.



But not the slim, slot loading drives that fit into the iMacs.

HP includes Blu-Ray drives on it's higher end laptops as standard and offers a Blu-Ray burner for $150 more. it shouldn't be that big a deal for apple to do this since all their products are premium
post #39 of 231
I'm going to go on record as speculating that one of the new features is an external multi-touch trackpad instead of the Mighty Mouse. In my experience, the MacBook (Pro/Air) trackpad is superior to any mouse. This is in stark contrast to any PC laptop, where the first thing I do is plug in a mouse. Perhaps it might even be an external keyboard with a multi-touch trackpad included.

There's no other explanation for why Apple hasn't touched the Mighty Mouse in years, despite the problem with the trackball getting jammed requiring manual cleaning.
post #40 of 231
Someone earlier mentioned a multi-touch screen, but having used an HP touch screen on a number of occasions, I have to say that it's much more of a gimmick than a truly useful feature. Whatever limited applications there are that really take advantage of it, it's not practical for regular use. Normally it just feels like my arm is about to fall off from having to hold it out, extended, for a period of time.

That said, I do want to have gestures on a mac desktop. I had been expecting Apple to release some kind of iPod/iPhone app that could allow it to act as a gesture device, but a new keyboard with some type of gesture surface (maybe in the space that used to be occupied by the numerical pad) would be welcome and not as physically strenuous as
having to lift up the whole arm over an extended period of time trying to gesture
on a touch screen.

As far as Blu-Ray, I hope it's just optional given that Apple wouldn't ship with just a Blu-Ray reader; it would also have to burn, and therefore probably more expensive. And it would only make sense on the 24" model since the 20" screen doesn't display the full 1080 vertical pixels, thus limiting the actual usefullness of Blu-Ray.

Hopefully the long requested feature is finally the option for an anti-glare screen!
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