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Apple readying upgrades to consumer hardware offerings

post #1 of 36
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Beginning next month, Apple Computer will introduce new versions of all of its consumer Macintosh hardware offerings, sources have confirmed to AppleInsider..

The product upgrades are being targeted at the upcoming educational buying season and will span the iMac G5, iBook G4 and eMac G4 product lines.

iMac Rumors

For the iMac, sources say Apple will bump the low-end configuration from 1.6GHz to 1.8GHz, while the higher-end configurations will receive 2.0GHz processors. The all-in-one desktop computers may also sport improved SuperDrives and more standard memory, according to reports.

Meanwhile, rumors of an iMac HD mode abound. However, after an extensive investigation into the reports, AppleInsider was unable to confirm that Apple will release such an iMac.

According to the reportswhich date back to JanuaryApple has been dropping hints that it may release an iMac G5 equipped with a high-definition display (22-23 inches), and quietly gathering feedback on the subject from certain market sectors.

In support of this rumor, sources cite the recent introduction of iMovie HD and Final Cut Express, two consumer-oriented applications for creating high-definition video. "If consumers are using iMovie HD on their iMacs to create HD video, wouldn't it be nice if the iMac offered a display capable of displaying this content in high-definition?," one insider remarked. Sources also recall a statement made by Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs, at the recent Macworld Expo, which promised that 2005 would be the "year of high definition video editing."

But analysts AppleInsider spoke to found it difficult to see the rationale behind an iMac with a 23-inch display if it would not include a TV Tuner card, or other means of accessing HD media content.

"From a consumer standpoint I would question Apple's integration of HD technology in the iMac if the company was not going to leverage HD TV content," said Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal, who believes Apple is late to market with a consumer desktop with similar home entertainment features.

Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst for JupiterResearch, offered similar sentiments, pointing out that HD video cameras retail for around $3000.

In general, the analysts failed to see a current market for an iMac HD, which would likely retail for around US$2500. However, Deal said Apple could potentially release an iMac HD to demonstrate its support for new DVD standards, such as HD DVD, in an effort to showcase emerging standards.

eMac Rumors

In addition to the new iMacs, which sources said have been awaiting manufacturing since late February, updated eMac models are also on tap for next month.

The fate of the eMac product line has been a subject of debate among analysts and Apple enthusiasts ever since the company unveiled its sub-$500 Mac mini computer last January. Some speculate that the low-cost mini would serve as a replacement for the eMac, which Apple has historically targeted towards universities and other educational customers.

But insiders disagree, saying the Mac mini isn't capable of cannibalizing eMac sales because it does not present the "complete solution" offered via the eMac's all-in-one enclosure and built in display. As a result, sources said Apple will continue to prolong the life of the eMac, introducing new models with slightly faster processors and improved video capabilities. While flat-panel prices are dropping, the CRT offering allows Apple to be much more aggressive with pricing.

For the most part, sources believe that the new eMacs will sport few differences from the current offerings, despite rumors that Apple was developing a new eMac enclosure to accompany a G5 processor. If anything, Apple may be working to reduce the cost of manufacturing the all-in-one eMac, which sources claim is a little bit more expensive than they want it to be, due to the cost of some eMac specific parts.

With the release of the new eMacs, sources say Apple will begin to extend its Do-It-Yourself Repair and Upgrade program to the product line. First introduced alongside the release of the iMac G5, the program offers consumers instructions and videos to upgrade their Mac, or perform certain repairs such as memory upgrades and internal battery replacements.

iBook Rumors

Also slated to make an appearance this spring are speed-bumped versions of Apple's iBook consumer laptops, though sources warned they may not surface until slightly later in the season.

Sources say Apple will boost the 12-inch iBook from a 1.2GHz to 1.33GHz G4 processor, while the 14-inch models will likely obtain a 1.5GHz processor. Both models are also expected to adopt an improved ATI Mobility Radeon graphics processor.

What remains largely uncertain is the TrackPad solution Apple will choose for the updated iBooks. In February Apple abandoned Synaptics, its long-term supplier of TrackPads for the PowerBook G4, in favor of an in-house solution dubbed the "Scrolling TrackPad."

It would seem likely that iBooks would adopt the Scrolling TrackPad, but erratic behavior of new TrackPads on the recently released PowerBooks has escalated into significant quality concerns, which have been widely documented on the Internet.

In recent weeks, Apple has begun to pull a significant number of its 12-inch PowerBooks from the market because of the issue. In some cases, consumers have been waiting up to six weeks for their 12-inch PowerBook order to ship. The issue also extends to some 15- and 17-inch models as well.
post #2 of 36
Alright! No mini update. Just what the doctor ordered.
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post #3 of 36
Quote:
Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst for JupiterResearch, offered similar sentiments, pointing out that HD video cameras retail for around $3000.

Some analyst.

JVC 720p HDV camera $1999

Quote:
In general, the analysts failed to see a current market for an iMac HD, which would likely retail for around US$2500. However, Deal said Apple could potentially release an iMac HD to demonstrate its support for new DVD standards, such as HD DVD, in an effort to showcase emerging standards.

I think they just fail to see.

From apple.com/imac
17-inch (viewable) widescreen TFT active-matrix LCD, 1440 x 900 pixels, millions of colors

The iMac already supports enough resolution for HD 720p(1280x720)

I think Apple will do fine to bump the gigahertz a bit and they'll need to add a minimum of 512MB of RAM. The iMac should come with DVD burning in all models save the education model.

There's no real need for a HDTV tuner right now the industry is still nascent. Prices and capabilities will improve for the second generation iMac G5 IMO.
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post #4 of 36
I've never seen an iMac education model. The ones that students buy are same iMacs others buy, just with a discount on top of it.

They should not have such penalties for students first of all as the future of the country(ies) (), and it would be a logistical nightmare because the default iMacs would sport a SuperDrive, which would mean that any student purchase would have to go through a customization procedure through Apple.com

That would slash any 'savings' they would have made while not giving SuperDrive's to students.
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post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
I've never seen an iMac education model. The ones that students buy are same iMacs others buy, just with a discount on top of it.

If you're buying for an institution and not for personal use, you can currently get G5 iMacs with no optical drive, 40gig HDs and a 32 meg video card. This could be the niche the original poster was referring to when they said "except for education."
post #6 of 36
Hm, didn't know that. Thanks.
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post #7 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
Hm, didn't know that. Thanks.


Hmmm, I'm thinking of grabbing one of the new eMacs, and getting a used G3 laptop. I'll have to wait and see what the official specs are though, I definitly at least need a 64meg vid card.
post #8 of 36
Nice to see the eMac may be more easy to repair with more user accessible parts-eg. customer installable HD upgrades.
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post #9 of 36
I've been waiting the last six months for an iMac update with an improved GPU. If this RevB doesn't have one, I'm stuck waiting again. From the looks of it, I'd better be prepared to wait.

This GPU was low-end 2 years ago. Now it's positively a joke. I don't expect Apple to squeeze a 9800XT in there, but c'mon...

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post #10 of 36
OMG screw emac and ibook updates where the hell are the powermac updates...why is there not even an ounce of rumors concerning the PM...whats going on??? AAAHHHHHHH I can wait any longer.
post #11 of 36
Apple will announce these, and a minimum of 512MB RAM standard across the line, together with their announcement of the Tiger launch date.
post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
Apple will announce these, and a minimum of 512MB RAM standard across the line, together with their announcement of the Tiger launch date.

tonton, is that a prediction or a fact? And if you're in the know, what's the story on an updated iMac GPU, even as a BTO?

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post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
Apple will announce these, and a minimum of 512MB RAM standard across the line, together with their announcement of the Tiger launch date.

Surely the PowerMacs need to have 512MB RAM before the consumer level computers. I can understand the PowerBooks doing this first but why the iBooks/iMacs/eMacs? Jobs really needs to meet the 3.0GHz promise this year (it's a year late now).
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by eji
I've been waiting the last six months for an iMac update with an improved GPU.

you mean you've been waiting 18 months now for an iMac update with an improved videocard. the FX 5200 was introduced in the iMac in september 2003.
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post #15 of 36
Just speculation. And notice I said "across the line" which means even the towers and the minis and the iBooks.
post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by tonton
Just speculation. And notice I said "across the line" which means even the towers and the minis and the iBooks.

yes but it looks like the PowerMacs and the Mac mini will be getting it last. PowerMacs as a professional line-up should be getting the increase in RAM sooner.
post #17 of 36
My wish for the new Top-iMac Modell tomorrow [list=a][*]512 Ram[*]A bigger screen (23")[*]2 gHz[*]At least: ATI Radeon 9600[/list=a]

OSX-Tiger, iLife '05 & Final Cut will be included!

I'd be ready to pay about $2500

But i think, it'll stay a wish.... \
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by gar
you mean you've been waiting 18 months now for an iMac update with an improved videocard. the FX 5200 was introduced in the iMac in september 2003.

That's true, in a way, though I wasn't in the market for an iMac back in the G4 "sunflower" days. I can imagine the frustration and bemusement of those who were.

But now the joke's an old one. A really old one. The debut of the iMac G5 was a perfect time to ditch the outdated card. That Apple didn't do so then was something of a shock; that they'd eke this much life out of it in the RevB is a farce.

And if there are worries that the consumer line would be slightly ahead of the pro line in terms of RAM or GPU, I have a hunch that lead will only last a few weeks. The NAB expo in mid-April (latest WWDC in early June) will probably bring new PMs, even though it's not traditionally known as a hardware launching ground for Apple. The company seems to be rather unorthodox in its announcements and rigidly defined product lines of late.

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post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by eji

But now the joke's an old one. A really old one. The debut of the iMac G5 was a perfect time to ditch the outdated card. That Apple didn't do so then was something of a shock; that they'd eke this much life out of it in the RevB is a farce.

Don't be surprised if Apple uses the 5200 Ultra chip in this update too. This is the second rumor on the same subject (the first one was from Think Secret) and no word on the graphics chip. For me this is a bad sign.
post #20 of 36
If there is no graphic card upgrade, i would be very frustrated!
in my opinion, the upgrade in graphic card is more important than an upgrade up to 2ghz...
post #21 of 36
Until there is substantial information about new PowerMacs or PowerBooks with Freescale Duals or a G5 low power I could give a rats ass about the rest of the line.

The professional lines need to be updated first, including the Xservers if indeed the 970MP is in the pipeline.
post #22 of 36
Man I really hope they do a redesign of the iBook. I'm sure one of the reasons they're not is that they might upset all the schools with big iBook contracts - though they could retain the same battery form factor which might be the solution...

Anyway, the design is getting really really old. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would snap one up in an instant if they redesigned it - working in a school and seeing 20+ iBooks for the past few years, the current design is a total eyesore!
post #23 of 36
Increase the RAM? I wish they'd decrease the RAM - to 0 MB. I wish Apple would offer a BTO option of no RAM so we can buy our own third party memory of the size we want.

- Jasen.
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by JtheLemur
Man I really hope they do a redesign of the iBook. I'm sure one of the reasons they're not is that they might upset all the schools with big iBook contracts - though they could retain the same battery form factor which might be the solution...

Anyway, the design is getting really really old. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would snap one up in an instant if they redesigned it - working in a school and seeing 20+ iBooks for the past few years, the current design is a total eyesore!

I love my new iBook look. Of course, I am not seeing but one every day and before I got it a month or so ago, I didn't see one at all.

I wish they would add the following options on the iBook below (in order of importance):

1. Super Drive (it is lame not to offer A DVD burner, I will go aftermarket for this when DL catches on)
2. Fire Wire 800
3. Slightly larger battery
4. Better Video Card (64 meg ram would be all I would ask for)

Eric
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post #25 of 36
I think you can forget the Firewire 800, its a 'Pro' feature.
The other stuff would seem reasonable to include, especially when comparing the competition from similar priced wintel notebooks..
post #26 of 36
Regarding the iMac, we probably aren't getting GPU upgrades with this update, so I would like to see $100 taken off each model.
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*Powerbook G4 12" - 1.5 GHZ
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post #27 of 36
A GeForce 6600 or Radeon X600 would be a good card for the iMac (usually PCI-Express too ).
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post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by aplnub

I wish they would add the following options on the iBook below (in order of importance):

1. Super Drive (it is lame not to offer A DVD burner, I will go aftermarket for this when DL catches on)
2. Fire Wire 800
3. Slightly larger battery
4. Better Video Card (64 meg ram would be all I would ask for)

Eric

Larger battery!? How good do you want it to be? I've heard people get about 6 hours, sometimes even up to 7. Compared with most other laptops on the market, this is amazing!
post #29 of 36
Compared to the tabletops 7 hours is indeed amazing, but there are some Centrino/Mobile CPU laptops that get similar times.
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post #30 of 36
I have a feeling that Apple is working rather hard on future directions of the iMac. I don't look for a "better" GPU until they have one that will fit all needs, including heat issues. Hate to admit it, but I'm rather pleased with my 20" G5 iMac and wouldn't put it on ebay for either a 2.0 G5 or a more powerful GPU. A speed bump would, however, be nice for those waiting for rev b.

A 23" iMac is not on the top of my list for things I (as a shareholder) would like to see Apple do. I use a 23" display with my PB in the office and the user experience between that and the iMac is very close. People mixing songs (like my son in law who borrows the 23" display) like the larger screen, but the 20 iMac has a glorious display.

I would like to see Apple stick the 1.6 G5 into the eMac, but doubt it would happen for a while - probably about the same time the Mac mini goes G5s. I still want to see it around as an AIO design because it's a good computer at its price point. Too many people turn their noses up at the eMac in my opinion.

I think that the iBook will be the sleeper in the ranges that could be upgraded in April. My wife has a 12" iBook and loves it. For me it is almost as good as the 15" PB I use for work. The iBook has killer sales in the back to school market - especially last year when they had the iBook + iPod offer and hit 60% of the market in some universities. April would be a great time to come out with a new one as it allow Apple to meet initial demand and then build up inventory for back to school.
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post #31 of 36
As I see it this perfect for an introduction of a PowerMac at WWDC. If Apple updates these lines now, or as soon as they think, it takes tons of pressure off them to release anything else immediately. And I think Apple wants more time on the PowerMac anyway. It's their show stopper. With the success of the iPod (that they can't live on forever) this should be the year Apple makes it's big moves that it couldn't risk in the past with their biggest Pro Machine.
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post #32 of 36
I'd also like to see a redesign of the iBook-nearly 4 years since the last major design change
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post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by timmyb
Larger battery!? How good do you want it to be? I've heard people get about 6 hours, sometimes even up to 7. Compared with most other laptops on the market, this is amazing!

5 hours is a resonable expection if you don't burn CD's and don't work in demanding applications (MS Office is a drain) with the current setup. I can squeeze 6 out of it but turning the screen brightness down that low tends to hurt my eyes.

I said, "slightly", I could benifit from another 45 minutes to 1 hour of real use on top of what it gives now. Besides, the battery's physical size is very small, a lot smaller than most battery's. I am sure they could squeeze another wee-bit in there.

My Dell M60 gets 5 hours of use burning it up and it has a large wide screen, dvd burner, and I use autocad and a few other surveying programs all the time with no significant reduction in battery life over normal fiddling around.

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post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Stoo
A GeForce 6600 or Radeon X600 would be a good card for the iMac (usually PCI-Express too ).

How much power (and how much heat) do these cards consume/produce? If its greater, then do you have to increase the size of the power supply and the speed of the fans to remove the heat from both the vid card and the power supply.

Call me stupid, but it was always my impression that the NV FX5200U was chosen because it had a reasonable heat/power profile. They would have loved to stick a ATI 9600XT in there as an option, but what other compromises would you have to make to cater for this change.
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post #35 of 36
At which time will these updated products be announced?
post #36 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by a j stev
How much power (and how much heat) do these cards consume/produce? If its greater, then do you have to increase the size of the power supply and the speed of the fans to remove the heat from both the vid card and the power supply.

Call me stupid, but it was always my impression that the NV FX5200U was chosen because it had a reasonable heat/power profile. They would have loved to stick a ATI 9600XT in there as an option, but what other compromises would you have to make to cater for this change.

I'd say the FX 5200 was chosen more because of cost and because it maintained a certain feature set. The GeForce 6200 hadn't been announced yet - and even if it was, the $129-149 initial retail cost would have hurt it. Now, you can see them online for $70-100 for 128 MB versions (and I don't mean turbocache versions, either), and the chipset is AGP-capable as well.
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