Surprisingly, Apple has added some unorthodox features to these new Core 2 Duo iMacs without fanfare. For example, the highest-end 24" model actually packs a much superior punch as compared to the 20" and 17" not only in the more visible area of screen size but also in some special stuff if you look closely:
- 1 FireWire 800 and 1 FireWire 400 port instead of 2 FireWire 400 ports in and the ports have 15 watts of shared power up from 8 watts (probably because of the 800).
- It's possible to VESA mount the 24" model using an optional adapter.
- 24-watt internal amplifier instead of 12-watt amplifier
Going with a low-end iMac that has Integrated Graphics is just the way to do that. A lot of people in offices wouldn't mind an iMac but the ATI Radeon X1600 graphics would be a complete waste of $200 for them. Apple has also removed some other stuff (stuff that's less noticeable on the Tech Specs page) from the lowest-end iMac, such as the Apple Remote and Bluetooth 2.0; although it is possible to purchase the Apple Remote later on (the IR sensor is included), you apparently cannot add Bluetooth to this iMac. However, it would not be a far-fetched assumption to say that the target demographic for the $999 iMac would not be interested in wasting extra money on either the Apple Remote (which would simply have been left in the box or chucked in some drawer) or Bluetooth (the wired keyboard and mouse that come with the iMac would be more than enough). I also understand that Apple cannot go to a lower pricepoint like $799 as it would cannibalize the sales of the high-end Mac mini. (By the way, I really think that Apple should have kept the 1.5GHz Core Solo and reduced its price to $449.)
Another reason why I like these new iMacs is because Apple has finally made 1GB standard across most of the iMacs. Only the $999 iMac comes with 512MB of RAM to save money. The rest all ship with 1GB of RAM though it's 2x512MB in the stock configuration.
Also, this is probably the most customizable range of iMacs to date. Once you step up from the Integrated Graphics iMac, even on the 17" model, you can upgrade the processor from 2.0GHz to 2.16GHz, the RAM from 1GB to 3GB and the hard drive from 160GB to either 250GB or 500GB. In the 20" model, you can opt for a 2.16GHz to 2.33GHz processor upgrade, the RAM upgrade, the hard drive upgrade and, additionally, a graphics RAM boost from 128MB to 256MB. The 24-incher is the big-momma of upgradeability and even lets you choose a completely different graphics card - you can replace the stock NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT (the same card that ships with the
If all that wasn't enough, Apple has also bumped the prices on its iMacs down. The 20" iMac now costs $1499, down from $1699 and the 17" iMac costs $1199 down from $1299. So, regardless of all the features, the lower prices themselves are going to be a quite boost to sales, especially for the 20-incher, which is the very attractive middle ground in terms of iMacs, although I am quite sure that the $999 iMac is the one that's going to sell like slightly-warmish cakes.
All in all, I have a really good feeling about this new range of iMacs. I think a lot of people are going to want one and the 24-incher is going to be really good for some smaller room-theatre setups. Also, did I mention how incredibly humongous a 24" screen is?
PS: One oddity in the 24" display is that its contrast ratio is 700:1, which is actually less than the 20" model's 800:1, although the 24" is brighter. Also, why does only one of the iMac's slots take a 2GB RAM chip and not both? 4GB would be nice on the 24-incher.