Hands on with Apple iMac 27in and Magic Mouse
Not a company to be upstaged, Apple chose to announce its new range of consumer Macs in the same week as the auld enemy launched Windows 7. And so, just minutes after leaving the Windows 7 press launch, I was whisked to Apple's central London HQ to for a whistlestop tour of the new products.
The iMac 27in is big. Huge, in fact - and as if to exaggerate that feeling, Apple's shipping it with a smaller Bluetooth keyboard, sadly shorn of numeric keypad. Like the new 21.5in version, it has a true widescreen 16:9 display (as opposed to 16:10 of the old iMacs). Apple says it's using 'premium' screen technologies - LED backlighting, IPS technology for better colour and a 179degree viewing angle.
The 27in's resolution is 2560 x 1440 - which means it can display 3MP photos at full resolution, and is better-than-HD. In fact, it has almost the same resolution as Apple's 30 cinema display. The 21.5in version is Full HD, with only 10% less pixels than the old 24in version. What this means, in both cases, is incredibly sharp graphics. Shame there's no Blu-ray drive.
There's a couple of other cool features, too - an SD card slot and a display port input (27in only) so you can use it as a monitor for your laptop or a display for your Blu-ray - or prehaps your Windows 7 netbook. Hell, why not?
The iMac's design has been refined, too, with glass around the screen reaching right to the edges of the display, a smaller non-display area underneath the screen and a full aluminium back instead of a plastic one.
In summary, the new 27in iMac is truly beautiful, and not ridiculously overpriced, either - it starts at £1349 with a quad-core, 8GB version for £1599. I desperately, desperately want one. If only I can find some way of justifying upgrading my 18-month old 24in iMac.
Apple's mouses have come in for a fair amount of criticism: for only having one button in the early days (when IBM offered three); for being cripplingly puck-shaped in the early iMac era; and more recently for having uncleanable scrollwheels.
The new wireless Magic Mouse is bound to have its detractors, too - it has the same invisible buttons as the Mighty Mouse, and it offers little in the way of palm support. But it's hard not to love the graceful design - which is reminiscent of Beijing's Olympic stadium and pleasingly ergonomic - and sophisticated multitouch capabilities. You can stroke the top of the mouse to scroll in all directions, or swipe two fingers to move forward and backwards between web pages. Genius.
Some trackpad gestures are missing - there's no pinch-zoom, for example - but this is nonetheless an important evolutionary step for mouse design; and it comes on the same day that HP and Sony are busy showing off their lovely but slightly mucky Windows 7 multitouch all-in-ones. Touching stuff. Seems like that old computing rivalry is good news for us gadget addicts.
We'll have full reviews of the new iMac and Magic Mouse next week.