Apple today refreshed its iMac desktop family, adding a higher-resolution display option to its entry-level 21.5-in. all-in-one and making the so-called "Retina 5K" screens standard on all its larger 27-in. models.
The last time Apple modified the screens of its iMac line was a year ago when it introduced the Retina 5K iMac, which then started at $2,499. In May 2015, Apple debuted a lower-priced Retina 5K iMac at $1,999.
Today, Apple debuted a 21.5-in. iMac with a Retina display of 4096-x-2304-pixel resolution, priced at $1,499. The model replaced the same-priced desktop that featured 1920 x 1080 resolution.
The top-of-the-line smaller iMac boasts a quad-core 3.1GHz Intel Core i5 processor from the older "Broadwell" line; 8GB of RAM; an integrated GPU (graphics processor unit), also from Intel; and a 1TB platter-based hard disk drive.
Other models in the 21.5-in. collection list for $1,099 or $1,299, and offer the older 1920-x-1080-pixel screen, but can be configured at ordering to push non-display specifications -- and the price -- higher.
At the upper end of the iMac portfolio, Apple slapped in a Retina 5K display on all 27-in. machines, standardizing the screen at the 5120-x-2288-pixel resolution. Prices remained static for the two lower-specced models at $1,799 and $1,999, while that of the priciest machine dropped by $200 to $2,299, representing an 8% reduction.
That iMac features a quad-core 3.3GHz Intel Core i5 -- out of the new "Skylake" collection -- 8GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon R9 M395 GPU with 2GB of memory, and a 2TB hybrid "Fusion" drive that relies on both an SSD (solid-state drive) and a traditional platter.
Apple's Fusion drives now come stock with just a 24GB SSD -- paired with a much larger old-school hard disk drive -- a miserly move by Apple, which previously used a 128GB SSD component. To get the earlier larger-sized SSD, customers must opt for the 2TB or 3TB Fusion drives, with $200 or $300 hits to the wallet. Because the SSD stores the operating system and the most-used applications, a Fusion-equipped iMac boots faster and launches programs quicker.
Oddly, none of the new iMacs come equipped with a USB-C port, the new jack-of-trades that Apple's using as the sole port on the $1,299 ultra-light MacBook laptop unveiled in March. Nor has Apple deigned to introduce any biometric log-on technology in the veteran line, which harks back to 1998 and co-founder Steve Jobs' first step in his company turn-around. Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner remains an iOS device-only component.
The new 27-in. iMacs were the first of Apple's personal computers to tap Intel's Skylake; all three standard configurations use a quad-core Skylake processor. Skylake made news last week when Microsoft stuck it in the Surface Book that goes on sale later this month.
Also today, Apple introduced a new keyboard, mouse and trackpad for its Macs, replacing the AA-battery-powered predecessors with second-generation gear that includes rechargeable batteries brought back to life by plugging them into a Mac's USB port or one of the ubiquitous Apple chargers that litter homes with iPhones and iPads.
The $129 Magic Trackpad 2, for example, is about 30% larger than its forerunner, introduces Force Touch technology to the desktop -- Apple's already dropped it into the MacBook Pro laptops -- and sans the AA battery bulge at the back, sports a slimmer profile than the 2010 original. But at $129, it's almost double the price of the older trackpad.
Apple's new iMacs and accessories are available today, with Friday delivery with the free shipping option.
This story, "Apple boosts iMac screen resolution, lowers price of top-end 27-in. machine by 8%" was originally published by Computerworld.