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Apple files hint at re-engineered iMac and Mac Pro models, potentially without optical drives

post #1 of 253
Thread Starter 
Internal configuration files in Mountain Lion make apparent references to yet-unreleased new generations of Apple's iMac (iMac13,0) and Mac Pro (MacPro6,0), both in the context of USB booting options that indicate the new Mac desktops could, for the first time in nearly 20 years, lack built-in optical drives.

The discovery, made by an AppleInsider reader Jason, appears in a configuration plist file used by Boot Camp Assistant to designate the Mac model versions capable of supporting either a optical boot disc, or alternatively, a USB flash drive volume capable of installing Windows to a Boot Camp partition.

While all modern Macs can boot OS X from a USB drive, Apple's Boot Camp Assistant references the plist to display a listing of newer Mac models with EFI-level support for booting a legacy operating system from a USB flash drive. The primary advantage to using a USB flash drive to create a bootable Windows 7 volume from an ISO (disc image file) is if you lack an optical drive burner.

The file lists a series of Mac models that support USB flash drive booting, referring to each model by its initials and its internal architectural version number. While it includes MacBook and MacBook Pro models with optical drives, most of the Macs in the supported list are optical free.

The list of models (below) include the "MM50" (the Mac mini 5,x series, also known as the "Mid 2011 Mac mini", which is the first non-Server version of the Mac mini to lack an optical drive), along with other optical-free models including the MacBook Air.



New sixth generation Mac Pro

Two of the models in the USB-boot support listing refer to Macs that haven't been released yet: the MP60 (the six generation Mac Pro, or MacPro6,x) and IM130 (pointing to the 13th generation iMac, or iMac13,x).

The current Mac Pro, updated only slightly in June during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, hasn't changed enough over the previous model for Apple to assign it a new architecture designation; it is still internally referred to as the "Mac Pro 5,1" just like the Mac Pros that originally shipped back in August 2010.

Apple's conspicuous lack of timely updates for the Mac Pro (and its relatively small and shrinking proportion of Apple's Mac sales mix) has created the expectation that the company might eventually discontinue its full sized desktop the same way it terminated its rack mounted Xserve, an idea Apple reportedly evaluated as an option.

However, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook confirmed in June that Apple would not be killing the Mac Pro, stating instead in an email to a concerned customer, "Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn?t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today?s [WWDC] event, don?t worry as we?re working on something really great for later next year. We also updated the current model today."

Cook's choice of the words "working on something really great," indicates Apple plans to significantly update its Mac Pro model, which has carried forward the same basic aluminum box design introduced for the 2005 PowerMac G5.

While removing its optical drive would do much less to save space and thickness compared to Apple's notebook designs, it's likely that an all new Apple desktop aimed at professionals would rethink its use of slow, bulky and essentially obsolete optical drive devices and perhaps instead incorporate high performance SSD RAID options for a reduced profile.

New 13th generation iMac

Apple's current iMac (referred to internally as the iMac 12) was last refreshed in May 2011, indicating that it's overdue for a refresh. A new 13th generation iMac generation identified as "iMac 13,2" has already appeared in Geekbench benchmarks.

John Poole of Primate Labs, which developed the Geekbench software and maintains user submitted scores, told AppleInsider that while some machine benchmark reports on the company's site refer to themselves a "iMac 13,2" not all of them are genuine Apple machines. Some are "Hacintoshes," or Windows PCs configured to boot and run Apple's OS X software.

At the same time, at least one of the new Geekbench reports (below) calling itself an "iMac 13,2" does appear to be real, Poole noted. There is however, no way to determine if the new iMac model used to submit the test incorporated an optical drive or not.





"There are a number of things to look at when trying to figure out if Geekbench result is from an unreleased Mac or from a Hackintosh," Poole explained. "The first thing to examine is the operating system version and build number. Unreleased Macs run unreleased builds of Mac OS X, while Hackintoshes run public builds of Mac OS X (and sometimes they're a couple of builds behind)."

Poole added, "the next thing to examine is the processor. Apple has not (and probably will not) use unlocked processors (e.g., the Intel Core i7-3770K) in a Mac, while the Hackintosh community prefers unlocked processors. If a result has an unlocked processor, it's probably a Hackintosh.

"Finally examine the motherboard and BIOS strings. If the result is from an unreleased Mac then both strings should contain the model id (e.g., iMac13,2) in some shape or form. Both strings should also not refer to any of the popular Hackintosh distributions (e.g., tonymacx86 or multibeast)."

Unlike the Mac Pro, which was designed to accommodate a series of large hard drives, full size graphics cards and provide a number of open PCI expansion slots, Apple's iMac is designed to be a slim, elegant system not much larger than a standalone display. Removing its optical drive would have a much larger impact in making it more space efficient, and in particular, thinner.

To this end, people familiar with the matter told AppleInsider in April that the company has been working on a pair strikingly slimmer, lighter, and more elegant models that will feature of profile similar to today's latest LED TVs, though radiating a bit more panache.

Similarly, patent filings reveal Apple has also been working to once again slim down the peripherals that ship with its industry-leading all-in-one desktop, with the designs referenced in those filings having the potential to accompany the next iMac update.

Patent 2


Apple works to abandon the disc

The appearance of new Mac Pro and iMac models in the USB booting support list doesn't definitively mean the models won't have optical drives, as it also lists MacBook and MacBook Pro models that do incorporate an optical drive.

At the same time, Apple has clearly indicated in the newest Mac mini and Retina Display MacBook Pro that it plans to get rid of optical disc drives as soon as possible across the board, providing an external USB drive as an option for users who need one.

Users increasingly have fewer opportunities to use optical drives, as the bulk of third party software is now available as a digital download either directly from the vendor or through Apple's App Store. Apple also sees digital distribution as the future of music and movies, as exemplified in Apple TV, which has never included an optical drive.

The company has never supported any new HD optical disc formats on its products, including Microsoft's ill fated HD-DVD or Sony's Blu-ray format, despite initially being involved in the Blu-ray standardization process. Instead, Apple has put its resources behind developing increasingly higher definition audio and video formats that it can distribute electronically through its own iTunes Store.

Apple even developed an alternative iTunes Extras web based multimedia format to deliver the same kind of interactive menus supported on DVDs, with a parallel solution for albums it called iTunes LP.

In addition, Apple introduced technologies intended to wean its Mac platform from optical disc dependance with the MacBook Air, which was designed to remotely share disc drives available on the local network (even remotely install OS X) via Remote Disc and handle Migration Assistant tasks over a wireless network connection.

Modern Mac models can now apply system updates, such as OS X Mountain Lion, entirely via digital downloads, while Apple's newest Mac models can boot legacy operating systems from USB flash drives.

By ditching the need for a built in optical drive, Apple can not only make new Macs smaller, thinner and more energy efficient, but will also increase their overall reliability, as optical drives become one of the last complex physical mechanisms inside computers.

Apple has similarly helped to pioneer the mainstream adoption of Solid State Drives as an alternative to the more fragile mechanical design inherent in conventional Hard Disk Drives. Its most popular general computing device, the iPad, makes no use of either optical drives or HDD mechanisms.

Originally posted by Marvin

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Originally posted by Marvin

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post #2 of 253
The iMac could be redesigned quite significantly. You can see what is possible with desktop boards now:

http://techreport.com/articles.x/23376

That example doesn't have a dedicated GPU but still, plenty of space to be saved here and there. A laminated panel means it has to be redesigned entirely and I think the Cinema Display is the most obvious design it can take. It also has the metal edge that offers some protection to the glass.
post #3 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

The iMac could be redesigned quite significantly. You can see what is possible with desktop boards now:
http://techreport.com/articles.x/23376
That example doesn't have a dedicated GPU but still, plenty of space to be saved here and there. A laminated panel means it has to be redesigned entirely and I think the Cinema Display is the most obvious design it can take. It also has the metal edge that offers some protection to the glass.


They make it look thin at the front. Note the other portion.

 

700

 

Thin is overrated for desktop design once you're to the point where the overall machine footprint doesn't change by much. Density gets focused on too much, and it's really a gimmicky thing there. It relies on people being stupid enough to buy something simply because it looks newer.

post #4 of 253
There will be those who'll argue that 'optical drives' are obsolete etc., but to remove them from desktop systems (where there's very little concern for saving a few millimenters that they take up) would be a questionable move as I know many (especially college students) who still watch (RedBox) DVDs etc on their iMacs.

We'll See if they decide to keep them or not...
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"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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post #5 of 253

Hallelujah- hopefully late September.

post #6 of 253

It's only a matter of time.  One less thing to go wrong on the machine.  Just like the floppy disk, legacy ports, etc.  Sure, there will be the 1% that will (as usual) resist change but it's nice that Apple is the one that sets the trail, even if it is a bumpy one at first.

I can count the number of times I've used the CD drive on my 2009 iMac.  That's how little I use it.  I have an external drive for my MBA and that has been used less than a handful of times, and only for those folks that refuse to let old tech die.

post #7 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

There will be those who'll argue that 'optical drives' are obsolete etc., but to remove them from desktop systems (where there's very little concern for saving a few millimenters that they take up) would be a questionable move as I know many (especially college students) who still watch (RedBox) DVDs etc on their iMacs.
We'll See if they decide to keep them or not...

 

For those who need an optical disc drive -- you can buy an external USB ODD from apple for $79.

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post #8 of 253

We've already seen the next generation iMac. It's called the 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display.

post #9 of 253
Quote:
incorporate high performance SSD RAID options or a reduced profile.

 

Original copy says 'or', although 'for' would also make sense yet provides a slightly different meaning. 

post #10 of 253

I can see the iMac first, possibly ln Sept. and the MacPro first quarter next year.  That to me seems more REALISTIC.  But if they do it sooner, even better.

 

I personally think the MacPro will probably a complete case design is a GUESS and that their working on some new video cards that may/may not have surfaced yet.

 

I think for the MacPro, since most of those go to the Pro Audio and Video market that they like having burners to make archive copies of CDs,DVDs, and possibly BluRay.  But maybe they'll be configured to add them internally.


The iMac, I could care if they have them internally or not, an external one is fine, because I can always add one for importing CDs to the iTunes Library.

post #11 of 253

One thing I wish Apple would do with the iMac... build in an emergency back-up battery for at least 10 or 15 minutes worth of emergency shut-down power.

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post #12 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

One thing I wish Apple would do with the iMac... build in an emergency back-up battery for at least 10 or 15 minutes worth of emergency shut-down power.

Boo

 

Get a UPS for that.

post #13 of 253

That is a Huge Endeavor that you will never see from Apple Inside the chassis.

 

I am knowledgeable in the APC back-up power supply industry, and the size of the units able to deliver 15 minutes of Battery Power, are the size of "large" Bricks

 

So,

Where are you going to put it?
 

post #14 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

One thing I wish Apple would do with the iMac... build in an emergency back-up battery for at least 10 or 15 minutes worth of emergency shut-down power.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Market_Player View Post

Boo

 

Get a UPS for that.



UPS Batteries go bad after a couple years.  While the concept is sound, the reality is most would not want to take their iMacs in to replace a battery.  UPS's are fine.  Unfortunately, most people aren't aware of what they even are outside of the package-shipping company.

post #15 of 253

No Big Loss, the drives they have been shipping are very out of date.

 

I use an external Memorex CD Burner and it smokes the drive in my MacPro and iMac.

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post #16 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

For those who need an optical disc drive -- you can buy an external USB ODD from apple for $79.
Or you could save fifty bucks and get a <$30 DVD burner from Amazon, Newegg, wherever. These are commodity peripherals now.
post #17 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

There will be those who'll argue that 'optical drives' are obsolete etc., but to remove them from desktop systems (where there's very little concern for saving a few millimenters that they take up) would be a questionable move as I know many (especially college students) who still watch (RedBox) DVDs etc on their iMacs.
We'll See if they decide to keep them or not...

Just like they kept floppy drives in all their Macs long after the industry and consumers stopped using them... because they had the room for them. And that was an actual gaffe in many regards because CD discs were still pricey -and- the first floppy-less Mac only had a reader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

I can see the iMac first, possibly ln Sept. and the MacPro first quarter next year.  That to me seems more REALISTIC.  But if they do it sooner, even better.

I personally think the MacPro will probably a complete case design is a GUESS and that their working on some new video cards that may/may not have surfaced yet.

I think for the MacPro, since most of those go to the Pro Audio and Video market that they like having burners to make archive copies of CDs,DVDs, and possibly BluRay.  But maybe they'll be configured to add them internally

The iMac, I could care if they have them internally or not, an external one is fine, because I can always add one for importing CDs to the iTunes Library.

For the current Mac Pro design an ODD makes sense. If they make it more consumer friendly, the elusive xMac display-less desktop people have been clamoring for for years, then I can see it not having an ODD at all, but have a case that allows for an ODD option. Perhaps even not a tray, but a cleverly placed slot for the disc should you decide to go with that option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

One thing I wish Apple would do with the iMac... build in an emergency back-up battery for at least 10 or 15 minutes worth of emergency shut-down power.

At one point that would have been great but with Mac OS backing up pretty much everything instantly I don't see a consumer need for it. Even on a restart all the apps you had open pop back up, including QTX with the video's last position.

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post #18 of 253

Look at my brand new Apple iMac.  It has a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse.  It's a work of art with the exception of the external optical drive!

post #19 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

One thing I wish Apple would do with the iMac... build in an emergency back-up battery for at least 10 or 15 minutes worth of emergency shut-down power.

Yeah, like some others I'd prefer those are kept outside the machine in the form of a UPS. While I imagine Apple could build a more efficient backup power supply if they really wanted to, it is nice to have an external device to deal with when the battery (or the device) goes bad, and it is also nice to keep that weight (they are really heavy—especially if rated well enough to tend a Mac Pro) out of the computer.
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post #20 of 253

Save your media on an SD card, USB key, etc. Most TVs have USB and SD inputs. And you get way more space than DVDs offer. 

 

DVDs are 5 years ago. The entire format is legacy. 

post #21 of 253
That's an awesome geek bench score- particularly if that's the base model- about the same as the BTO top-end 2011.

If this is the base- ill be buying that day one please- optical drive or not. Although I'd love a Blu-ray drive and burner on it, I'd also like to ride a unicorn and have it not hit 100 in Dallas this summer. But hey- I'm a dreamer.

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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #22 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Cook's choice of the words "working on something really great," indicates Apple plans to significantly update its Mac Pro model, which has carried forward the same basic aluminum box design introduced for the 2005 PowerMac G5.

I know AI is only a blog nowadays, but the PowerMac G5 was introduced in 2003, the Mac Pro was introduced in 2006.

post #23 of 253

Sure why not remove the optical drive so it starts looking like a "you-know-what"?

 

http://www.flixya.com/photo/28872/iMac-vs-Dell-XPS-410
 

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post #24 of 253
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by VisualZone View Post
Sure why not remove the optical drive so it starts looking like a "you-know-what"?

 

http://www.flixya.com/photo/28872/iMac-vs-Dell-XPS-410

 

Er, what? Giant iPad? LET'S.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #25 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by DGNR8 View Post

No Big Loss, the drives they have been shipping are very out of date.

 

I use an external Memorex CD Burner and it smokes the drive in my MacPro and iMac.


I use an external DVD Burner(LG) on my imac too. It comes in handy burning backups. The internal burner reads and the external writes. Btw, an external DVD burner will always outperform an internal DVD burner unless it's a desktop PC. AIO PCs are also slow.

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post #26 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualZone View Post

Sure why not remove the optical drive so it starts looking like a "you-know-what"?

 

http://www.flixya.com/photo/28872/iMac-vs-Dell-XPS-410
 

 

The iMac in that photo has 2 more wires than the iMac that they sell today. And since a very small percentage of people will go and connect an ODD, your point is moot. 

post #27 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Er, what? Giant iPad? LET'S.


NO!! That Dell with all those wires. I like my iMac without all the clutter. I'm sure others do too. I have a couple of backup 2tb HDDs(LaCie) that sit on top of one another and next to it an external DVD Burner strictly for burning backups already.

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post #28 of 253
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
The iMac in that photo has 2 more wires than the iMac that they sell today. And since a very small percentage of people will go and connect an ODD, your point is moot. 

 

Oh, THAT'S what he meant… Thanks! No wonder I didn't get it; I don't expect anyone to bother with discs in a future that isn't dystopian.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #29 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

 

The iMac in that photo has 2 more wires than the iMac that they sell today. And since a very small percentage of people will go and connect an ODD, your point is moot. 


I have the latest 27" iMac today. I was just using the picture as an example.

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post #30 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Oh, THAT'S what he meant… Thanks! No wonder I didn't get it; I don't expect anyone to bother with discs in a future that isn't dystopian.


And some of still watch movies using a DVD player. Although more and more movies I buy I get from iTunes and run it through my AppleTV.

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post #31 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualZone View Post


NO!! That Dell with all those wires. I like my iMac without all the clutter. I'm sure others do too. I have a couple of backup 2tb HDDs(LaCie) that sit on top of one another and next to it an external DVD Burner strictly for burning backups already.

So you don't like clutter but you like a much slower, noisier, power hungry method for backups used by a very small fraction of consumers? You're saying you want Apple to keep a certain aesthetics for your specific needs because you don't want to use a modern backup system. Sure, there are couple reasons why one would want to backup to optical media instead of magnetic media but that is not a consumer concern, not by a long shot.

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post #32 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisualZone View Post


And some of still watch movies using a DVD player. Although more and more movies I buy I get from iTunes and run it through my AppleTV.

Why haven't you used HandBrake to copy those videos to your drive? DVDs are MPEG-2. MPEG-2!!!!!!! MPEG-2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't expect anyone to scrap their DVDs but if you have a method of ripping them that allows the media to be slower and ported everywhere easily they why not use it?

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post #33 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Save your media on an SD card, USB key, etc. Most TVs have USB and SD inputs. And you get way more space than DVDs offer. 

DVDs are 5 years ago. The entire format is legacy. 

This reminds me of the fairly recent switch the TV torrent sites made from AVI to MP4. It's 2012 and they were still using the antiquated container and DivX-based codec for ripping TV shows. People were furious. The biggest complaint seemed to be that their DVD player would recognize AVI/DivX but not MP4/H.264 files. I'm sorry, but if you're DLing a TV show and then burning it to a CD to watch on your DVD player you are doing it wrong. You can buy a Roku for around $60, right?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #34 of 253

Well, hopefully they make a blu-ray external Superdrive. :/

post #35 of 253
Wireles hard drives, and with Remote Disc, why not wireless DVD drives? Put the thing anywhere ...
post #36 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol 
That's an awesome geek bench score- particularly if that's the base model- about the same as the BTO top-end 2011.

The i7-3770 is the top-end model. Ivy Bridge is only 15% faster than Sandy Bridge.

The main benefits would be USB 3 and a faster GPU. The 7970M is a decent enough upgrade over the 6970M. A redesign would of course make it more compelling and I think it will come with reduced glare like the Retina MBP. I really hope they don't put the HDD in the same place though. They should be able to keep the drives away from the speakers to avoid any magnetic interference and have them at the base. A side-access panel where the optical was wouldn't have to be disastrous. It can be sorta like the iPhone sim card tray.
post #37 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuffyzDead View Post

That is a Huge Endeavor that you will never see from Apple Inside the chassis.

I am knowledgeable in the APC back-up power supply industry, and the size of the units able to deliver 15 minutes of Battery Power, are the size of "large" Bricks

So,
Where are you going to put it?

 

Much of that bulk is due to power conversion from various voltages. Think about a laptop, a battery doesn't have to be huge to effect auto save.
post #38 of 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

 

For those who need an optical disc drive -- you can buy an external USB ODD from apple for $79.

I don't personally need one. Disk Warrior doesn't even boot properly from the disk past SL. That was when it stopped being useful to me, but $79 for a cheaply made kludge is dumb.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


For the current Mac Pro design an ODD makes sense. If they make it more consumer friendly, the elusive xMac display-less desktop people have been clamoring for for years, then I can see it not having an ODD at all, but have a case that allows for an ODD option.

The xmac is already taken. Note the trademark. I got a laugh out of this the first time I saw it and noted the "TM" notation. I don't see them providing a good solution going this route. I mean it's possible. I just don't see it. With the imac they bundle a display to support a high cost of entry.  The mac pro was likely carried in volume by it's $2500 option, so as that has become less competitive against the imac in many ways (I'm aware of what the imac will and will not do), the value there has weakened.

post #39 of 253
I wonder if these next iMacs will be Retina. Seems like it could be very difficult to make those panels in that size but I sure hope so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by marcusj0015 View Post

Well, hopefully they make a blu-ray external Superdrive. :/

Apple won't but others do. The problem that has plagued Mac OS regarding Blu-ray is not that Apple doesn't offer a BRD option but that Apple doesn't support Blu-ray in the OS across the HW.


PS: it looks like Windows 8 will not be supporting DVD or Blu-ray by default. I do imagine that if you get a player and an app BRDs will play but that is not an option with Mac OS unless you rip the disc.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #40 of 253
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
People were furious.

 

I just find it so funny that they think they have any right to have any emotion about their piracy… And yes, I know TV's a different issue, but the switch to MP4 didn't just happen to shows… lol.gif


Originally Posted by marcusj0015 View Post
Well, hopefully they make a blu-ray external Superdrive. :/

 

For all those Blu-ray movies you can't even watch on a Mac, anyway…

 

As big a bag of hurt Blu-ray is, the concept of an optical drive entirely is now a far bigger one.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
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AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Future Apple Hardware › Apple files hint at re-engineered iMac and Mac Pro models, potentially without optical drives