What will the iMac look like when....

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
it is finaly redesigned?



I'm going to believe the corporate line -- that the dome/arm arrangement costs them too much to allow for them to build the iMac down to a more palatable consumer price -- and take off from there.



By mid next year, shipping a computer in the eMac's price range with a CRT will be absolutely absurd. Apple has also shown an unwillingness to drop below a certain price threshold on the consumer machine.



Add all those things together and I think it means that both the iMac and the eMac have to go, to be replaced by a single line-up that more effectively stradles AIO/edu markets.



My thinking on this thing from Sony is that while it's design is absurd (an integrated keyboard, come on?) it points to some usefull features -- PC-Card for future proof connectivity, built in TV tuner, and integrated speakers.



The PC-Card is already present on the pro laptops, and if we borrow their main bits to make an iMac, then it won't cost Apple much to throw it in, and at the same time, it would allow users like me a great deal of peace of mind that when the next FW/USB/BT/airport comes along, were just a $49-99 card away from joining the party.



Integrated speakers can be good too. Yes, seperation suffers, but the proposed machine would have to do double duty in an edu setting aswell, integrated speakers are hard to steal, unless you take the whole machine too!



With a range of sizes from useful (15") to comfortable (17") to luxurious (20") it seems a sin not to have a TV tuner at least on the higher spec 17 and 20" models, especially with all that neat PVR/DVD recorder potential available via iMovie/iDVD/iCal. I'd go so far as to say the upper models could use a DVI-in (for HDTV), if you're going to court the people -- from low end pleeb to technocratic elite -- then you're gona have to throw some features their way. Who doesn't want to use those big 17" and 20" panels to display content from other sources, or even to capture HD video? (high end only)



Now look at the Sony in the PDF, that fat arse is the very definition of "glom" but I don't think Ive would ever produce something so brutal, especially NOT with the PB parts bin that he may raid at will. So, take one PB mobo and rip out the battery and laptop grade drives. Putting said mobo in behind the screen should still keep it under 1" thick, possibly slightly thicker in the center and thinner at the edges, to accomodate desktop grade backlighting and CPU/GPU/Mobo cooling.



The only real problem is what to do with the drives. Slapping them on the back will make the machine either thicker (desktop grade drives) or slower, laptop grade drives.



Apple could make a smaller dome. What, a dome, what's the point, Matsu, shut up, have you lost your mind? Well, mebbe, but still, unlike the current iMac, said base wouldn't support the weight of the machine, instead, the PS and drives would be housed away from the mobo in a base that makes a middle leg. The front of the machine has two feet, just like the current Cinema displays while the back leg meets the back of the base. To tilt tthe machine you just slide the front forward or back. No panning. Because the back leg meets the back of the base, the front of the optical remains accessible regardless of tilt angle. Think digital easle rather than sunflower.



Should be cheaper to produce and harder to break, since the arm doesn't really support any weight, like the current system. No swinging and less tilt also means that students are less likely to savage the arm mechanism (if that was ever a real concern).



One line, mebbe 4 models:



15" combo (replaces eMac) 799



17" combo 999-1199



17" super 1299-1399



20" super 1899-1999



Or something like that?
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Am I correct in imagining some sort of modified "L" shape, with the vertical part being the screen and the horizontal piece being the base?



    Can you sketch or doodle what you're talking about maybe?



    I, too, have been thinking about this a lot lately...knowing that the current dome/arm thing won't be around forever (maybe for cost reasons, but mostly just because at some point it's going to be old hat and time for a change).



    So...bearing in mind Steve's dislike of "glomming the guts to the back" (for the sake of sleekness AND optimum drive performance), there will eventually be another AIO that keeps the good aspects of the current iMac (horizontally mounted drives, mobile screen, eye-catching appeal, etc.) and marries it with a smarter, cheaper, etc. enclosure/design of some sort.



    I've thought about the amount of space that houses the guts of, say, the 14" iBook. I don't know how much of that is needed just for keyboard, but let's pretend we have a base that is the same area of the 14" iBook. And just to give it some internal "wiggle room", we can make it not as thin (maybe so we don't have to concern ourself with pricey miniaturization as much?). It can be 2" thick.



    This would like flat, just as the keyboard/body section of the iBook does.



    Hinged to the front edge - not some slap-dash, half-ass approach either...it would be typical Jobs/Ive coolness which I can't really imagine at this late hour - would be the display.



    Almost like a backward/rearranged laptop: open an iBook and move the screen from the back to the front, basically. There would be a set swing/arc of front to back movement allowed.



    And I actually dig the whole side-to-side mobility, so what if this thing was mounted on a nice, wide bottom riser/pivot point, providing a half-inch or more lift/clearance (for air circulation and all...the reason people buy these Coolpads and other devices for their laptops) as well as a nice sweeping 180-degree side-to-side rotation (as the current LCD iMac)?



    No dome, no arm. Still an all-in-one. Still a nice, sleek flat panel. Still horizontally-mounted guts/drives. Still front-to-back screen positioning AND side-to-side.



    About the only thing it wouldn't have, mobility-wise, that the current iMac doesn is up and down. At least not in a way I can envision at the moment.



    All one-piece. It doesn't sound like anything staggering, on the surface, from my description.



    But again, that's where Ive and his gang comes in.







    They would, of course, give it that "something extra" or cool to raise it far above the simple thing I've described.



    Standardize on the base size AND standardize on the junction point(s) where the display is attached to the body. Offer a 17" and 20" model (at current iMac resolutions which I think are more than adequate).



    All the current I/O of the time (if produced tomorrow, USB 2.0, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth, etc.) and although you're basing it roughly on the spacing/layout of a laptop body, you can afford to be a bit bulkier because, being a desktop, we're not too concerned with size/weight issues. It'll still be slim, small, compact. And, of course, battery size/performance isn't an issue either.



    And again, with Apple's proven track record of gorgeous design, it would be wrapped in the appropriate plastics/metal to make it look as gorgeous as possible.



    Damn you, Matsu. I'll be mulling this one over all weekend...



  • Reply 2 of 23
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    One thing I'm thinking it to incorporate tall (thin) FP (planar or NXT) speakers on either side of the display. Have them extend past the bottom lip to act as the front feet. The back of the machine has a slight taper on the horizontal axis feathering out from 2-3" in the middle to a svelt .5" at the edge of the speakers.



    If we didn't have to deal with a standard optical, this could be so svelt, but ultimately, in the interests of speed, durability and COST, it's best to use a standard drive and find some way to elegantly position it.



    Another Sony product gave me a better idea:



    see the base here



    I've seen this display in person and it looks good. Now, to adjust the concept to iMac usage we need to do some fidling. For the base, we make a slight dome large enough to house just the optical, ports, and the PS. HDD's can go in the back, since their orientation is inconsequential. But, instead of an arm, we have a large ball joint! This swivels side to side and tilts by sliding in the socket of the base. The problem is that none of this saves you much, you still need about a 9.5" radius to clear a standard optical. The base can be a lot lower, but to have any meaningful play, the ball joint is going to have to be large.



    Part of me thinks Apple will give up on the honest use of components and slap that sucker on the side, how slow could it really much?



    but perhaps the best solution, something a little more geometric and honest, would be to put the optical in a round base that only just houses a full size optical (about 9.5" radius and 2" thick -- like a cross section of a log, not a dome, but a thick disc with an Apple logo on the top and a tray opening on the front. Right in the center of this we have a smaller ball-joint that lets the display rotate (rather than swing) and tilt forward and back.



    I just sketched it out real quick and dirty, but I can't post it, I can email it to you if you like.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    I visited home today and my brother had obtained a PowerMac 6400. He showed me its means for expansion - very interesting actually. The 6400/6500 was a consumer machine so expandability is limited but very easy. The CD-ROM drive is on a sled with special plugs on the SCSI connector that allow it to connect to the SCSI bus without any cables. If you want to upgrade/replace the drive, just pop it out, move the sled and the connectors to a new SCSI CD drive, and pop it back in. This can be done with no tools, as the only part you have to remove in order to replace many parts is the front panel. Upgrading the hard drive is just as easy. And upgrading RAM or other components on the motherboard (such as L2 cache) is easy as well because the motherboard can be removed with a simple screwdriver.



    The 6400 has a number of limitations, most notably its 136 MB RAM limit (16 MB onboard, two RAM slots supporting 64 MB of RAM each) and its soldered-on processor. Processor upgrades are available through the L2 cache slot but it certainly wasn't designed to be able to use daughtercards. Also, it has only two PCI slots, but that's fine.



    I'm not saying Apple will do this. On the contrary, I highly doubt Apple will release a "semi-upgradable," "prosumer" machine in the near future. It would make more sense just to simplify and consolidate their current consumer desktop line, while also making available a $1500 or so tower. Maybe it's not the best solution for people like us, but at least it's better than what's going on now.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    pscatespscates Posts: 5,847member
    Sure, Matsu...e-mail that sketch to me. I'd be interested in seeing it.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    With a 20" display the iMac base is looking really good. I really can't see why Apple would design a new look. I can see them upgrading the components and maybe adding some expandability. Since the LCD iMac was released, a lot has been done to shrink component sizes, they can fit a lot more in that base while being more heat efficient.
  • Reply 6 of 23
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    My digital camera is out for the morning, and I'm off to do some home renovation, or at least think about it in the middle of Home Depot. I'll take a pic of my sketch and e-mail sometime this afternoon.



    As for the design, I agree, the base looks better with each increase in screen size. However, it seems to be a major contention that the iMac's round base and arm arrangement make it just too expensive to build down to more realistic consumer/edu price levels, and that in the case of education, the durability of said layout is questionable as well.



    Nothing about the major bits has really gotten smaller/cooler because speeds have to rise to be competitive, so while the process may be smaller, the CPU and GPU just get hotter. If they need more power, it also means that you can't shrink the PS all that much -- not that you would anyway, since in the future Apple resumably wants to spec faster opticals (8X plus DVD burning) and faster/larger HDD drives (SATA, 200GB+), all of which require power and produce heat. The dome is a quite ingenious way of cooling a CPU and GPU, but if it continues to cost a lot, then it has to be addressed, it won't really be any easier to wrap the dome around "up-to-date" internals than it is to do so with today's state of the art. I too think the dome could keep working for them from a design standpoint, but they may be running into a production/market issue.



    If they're always going to cost just a bit too much, that's a problem. And, even if prices come down and schools still don't want them because of design issues, then that's a problem too, because it requires a second model to meet a set of needs which really ought to be covered by one production line. That means more costs, not the least of which is filling the market from two locations, with two different assembly lines/proceedures and running twice as much production overhead than you really need to be doing to satisfy basically one market -- the AIO user.



    What we have right now is better than the absurd situation of just a few months ago, where Apple was selling iMac G3, iMac G4, and eMac simultaneously into very similar markets. However, having one AIO line with a few different models to meet each market would allow prices to drop and margins to hold -- a better proposition for everyone.
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Apple should forget about another AIO machine. Here's a radical approach. Build the motherboard into the keyboard housing or just take a powerbook base and use a separate monitor. This will mean a bigger keyboard than the present one, but so what. PC keyboards are huge! Your optical drive and hard drive will all be horizontal instead of packed onto the back of a lcd. This keyboard motherboard combo will be sorta portable. I'm sure this can be done. What do your think?
  • Reply 8 of 23
    chagichagi Posts: 284member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kung Fu Guy

    Apple should forget about another AIO machine. Here's a radical approach. Build the motherboard into the keyboard housing or just take a powerbook base and use a separate monitor. This will mean a bigger keyboard than the present one, but so what. PC keyboards are huge! Your optical drive and hard drive will all be horizontal instead of packed onto the back of a lcd. This keyboard motherboard combo will be sorta portable. I'm sure this can be done. What do your think?



    Interesting concept. Unfortunately when you mention it, all the horrid examples of how not to do it design-wise it tend to spring to mind, kind of clouds my imagination.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    The iMac2 problem isn't going away with the intro' of the 20 inch screen.



    Matsu raises some interesting points on the eMac/iMac2 quandry.



    How long can the CRT is dead eMac hang on?



    More and more PCs are now being sold with LCDs at ridiculously low prices. The price of the iMac2 and the stubborn inclusion of the eMac is untennable in the next year.



    I like the imac's design but it needs a re-think or re-price. It hasn't happened yet...so I can see an iMac3 coming up to clear the confusion.



    more than ever, a single G5 Cube would be great in the iMac's price bracket...and the iMac could drop into the emac's place. Where it belongs.



    Sigh, the iMac...perfect in many ways...but the lack of graphic card expandability...and the lack of G5. Not good. 2 grand for a 1.25 gig G4?



    Ludicrous. Especially when the dual 1.8 G5 is a little more!!!



    I can't see why Apple don't just let it's customers configure a cpu upto the 2 gig G5 in the iMac. The pc shuttle makers can fit the hottest wintel chips and graphic cards in a tiny machine. Why can't Apple? Radeon 9800 and G5 in a 20 inch iMac? I could buy that!



    Apple's laptop line is great. But the desktop line beneath the G5 tower is need of a damn good sorting. It's awkward and hotch potched as hell.



    Lemon Bon Bon
  • Reply 10 of 23
    That viao is the ugliest thing i ever saw, i wouldn't even call it a computer.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    Single processors, iMac. Dual systems, Powermac -- Shouldn't Apple implement this by now?



    Regarding the look of the next iMac, certainly it will be creative but they simply can't take a step back from the adjustable arm feature, the Luxo design. A killer feature, won't the next gen Apple displays all have them?



    An idea with strange engineering would have a round stand with the arm, holding the screen with the motherboard behind the screen. Bend the screen forward slightly to access the top-loading DVD-ROM. Sure Gateway or whatever tried this setup, but Apple could make it work...
  • Reply 12 of 23
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    1) Apple's not interested in making the Mac a TV or glorified boombox. It's part of the digital hub and not the digital swiss army knife itself.



    2) Apple's not interested in giving you a PC Card expansion option. They want you to have as many reasons to upgrade as possible. That's why Apple didn't make the AirPort card any more capable than it was.



    3) Capturing HD video requires $2000 hardware. Don't be ridiculous. Also, dedicated PVRs and cheap TVs are going to be a much better solution than having PVR functionality built-in. Don't believe me? Spend two minutes with XP MCE and two minutes with a TiVo or ReplayTV.



    4) The swingability of the arm is one reason why the arm exists. Why would you want to take it away?



    5) You are stupid.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    If PVR's are cheap, then they are also cheap to integrate, what with all the major bits there. The real benefit is getting all those bits into the iMac for some iMovie manipulation, phantom edits and the like. And, of course, to get the content into QT for file sharing goodness. Not that Apple would or should, just mulling over ideas.



    HD capture costs a lot now, but how much will it cost in late '06? We're not talking high bit-rate pro capture. But if HD is coming, then an HDTV tuner would have to be the standard currency at some point, just like an NTSC/PAL/SECAM is now. Tune it in, and save it as any number of lower bit-rate formats that will burn onto optical media, MPEG2/4 mainly. Not "HD capture" per se so muach as captured HD (no longer wit the same definition, but still useful)



    All we keep hearing is that the arm/dome costs too much. If it costs to much, then it's time to do something else.
  • Reply 14 of 23
    imacfpimacfp Posts: 750member
    The better option for the iMac would be for Apple to allow access to the video card, give the option to remove the superdrive (they do this for the PowerMacs and it's a $200 savings). Give 512 MB on the highend standard. Include bluetooth and airport. Put the fastest G4s possible if they won't use G5s. Apple gives you screen options they just don't give you anything else. Apple could add value to the iMacs with ease. They just don't want to.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    mac voyermac voyer Posts: 1,291member
    Sorry, Matsu, the arm is not going away. Currently, it is the only reason to own an iMac. Other than the floating monitor, the eMac is a much better deal. I also doubt they will build stand alone monitors with the iMac style because that would kill the iMac's exclusive advantage. A tower plus floating 17" monitor for $1800 would put the $1800 iMac completely out of business, all else being equal. I don't think the iMac design will change anytime soon. It will also be a while before it heads down market.



    I hope I'm wrong.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    How can the arm cost so much? Mechanically it's simple. It's not made of exotic materials. Where is this huge cost?
  • Reply 17 of 23
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Matsu

    If PVR's are cheap, then they are also cheap to integrate, what with all the major bits there. The real benefit is getting all those bits into the iMac for some iMovie manipulation, phantom edits and the like. And, of course, to get the content into QT for file sharing goodness. Not that Apple would or should, just mulling over ideas.



    Christ, I just explained it to you. Apple's strategy doesn't include integrating CE into the hardware. You won't find play/stop buttons and LCD displays for iTunes on the front of an iMac. You won't see the iMac come with a PVR and remote. That's not going to happen and it's not desirable. If you want to edit stuff from the PVR in iMovie, it's called an ethernet cable and Rendezvous or a FireWire cable.



    Quote:

    HD capture costs a lot now, but how much will it cost in late '06? We're not talking high bit-rate pro capture. But if HD is coming, then an HDTV tuner would have to be the standard currency at some point, just like an NTSC/PAL/SECAM is now. Tune it in, and save it as any number of lower bit-rate formats that will burn onto optical media, MPEG2/4 mainly. Not "HD capture" per se so muach as captured HD (no longer wit the same definition, but still useful)



    By 2006, all networks are supposed to drop analog transmissions. That's not going to happen though. The price of pro HD equipment won't go down much. By 2006+, software HD capture might be possible in consumer machines.



    Quote:

    All we keep hearing is that the arm/dome costs too much. If it costs to much, then it's time to do something else.



    I haven't heard many people say it costs too much. Just you so far.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Here are some old picts of the development ideas for the TAM - 20th Anniversary Mac.



    SONY's idea has already been done it seems.



    http://tam.axon.net/pamona1.htm



    Just keep clicking on <next>



    8)
  • Reply 19 of 23
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    I say only to put the plugs on the machine, and yes, provide the software capture. Their interconnectivity model is basically connector plus software anyway, and it makes the most sense too, since it's the most cost effective. I also know Apple isn't interested in TV, but that doesn't make it pointless to discuss, not for all markets anyway.



    As for the arm, it was mentioned ad infinitum on these boards by numerous people, including Amorph to mention just one, and many many times over (as an argument against the iMac's use as an edu machine -- in conjunction with the LCD) The thin margins originally intimated by Apple when the iMac FP was first released also seemed to go directly back to its design/manufacture and LCD. You might also note the main page of this site (not proof of anything, I know) that claims the iMac is being "redesigned" not just expanded to include new screen options.



    I don't know if I personally believe that the iMac costs as much to make as some would have us believe, arm or not. I like the arm, to be honest about it, and am not too sure that a redesign could look or function (ergonomically) any better than this one does right now. If Apple drops 15" and 17" prices to current eMac levels, then I see no need either for the eMac to exist nor the iMac to be redesigned. But, as I said at the outset, this is more of a consideration of what will happen when the eMac grows too outdated to sell (with its CRT) and what (if anything) has to happen to the iMac to get prices down. Also, while the design is great, I don't see it carrying on forever, though Apple could stretch for 4-5 years easily.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    I have given a lot of thought to the new iMac. A lot of people here agree that the current form factor is pretty much perfect as an all in one computer. I concur. I also agree the eMac is living on borrowed time which begs the question of what Apple will do to satisfy the low end market while doing something new and innovative for the higher end of the consumer market.



    Instead of re-designing what most of us agree is the perfect "base" for the iMac what if Apple offered most of the changes inside and perhaps a cosmetic touch or two outside?



    My perfect iMac would have a G5 chip inside. I think that is the next logical major renovation of the line. There might have to be minor cosmetic changes in the base to allow for some extra cooling but a G5 iMac is sure to draw some interest, especially with a larger hard drive and a better graphics card. Before I go any further keep in mind the iMac's market niche which would not lend itself to upgrades beyond a hard drive and memory. It is also not a gaming platform either though you can play games quite comfortably on one if you aren't too demanding.



    While we are on the outside what about a brushed aluminum iMac? I have two LCD iMacs and the only thing I am not wild about is the color. I would have preferred black myself. With a brushed aluminum exterior the new iMac would scream two things. Upscale and G5!



    Since the rumor mills are going crazy about a new 30"+ LCD screen why not stick the current 23" on an iMac and like someone else mentioned add a TV tuner to it? The arm would support the extra size and as stated before the bigger the LCD the better the base looks. Now the iMac, especially with a 250 GB hard drive option, would really be the Digital Hub Jobs trumpeted a few years back.



    Now add Firewire 800 and some ports in the front and the new iMac is set to go. If you keep the price under $3000 you have a G5 and monitor that is affordable and tempting to a market outside the consumer arena.



    Now for the low end iMacs. If you have expensive components the easiest way to drop the price is to raise the amount being manufactured. Perhaps the new 20" iMac was added with that in mind, to boost sagging sales before Christmas and keep the line viable till a new iMac could be offered. I would keep a current G4 15" model and try to sell it for under a grand. If Apple could drop the prices on the current line by $200 apiece or so and perhaps sell the new model for say, $2399 while offering it with a 20" and 23" option and keep the higher end model under 3 grand I think they would be able to capture a larger potion of the market than they have now.



    A G5 iMac might impact G5 Tower and LCD sales but a good portion of that market wants upgradability and they want extra bays to add drives. The towers would still be the faster machines, they would still have dual processor capability and they would have the very best graphic card/storage options necessary for that market. However envision a video studio dilemma that plagues the industry now. They need the fastest machines to do rendering, special effects and the like but they also have to either use over powered machines to do the simple things like music/sound editing, stills, titles, trailers, etc. or they use under powered machines because the cost is prohibitive with no real good mid price alternatives. A G5 iMac would be a great addition to this environment. You could save your bucks for the machines you need to have the horsepower and screen space to do rendering, special effects and editing but the G5 iMac would be able to handle everything in between with ease. When you need to upgrade the market will always be there for the older G5 iMacs cutting down the costs dramatically.



    Apple should not reinvent the wheel. All they need to do is make it run smoother and faster and maybe look a little better. <G>
Sign In or Register to comment.