Apple unwraps new iMac G5 at Paris show

Apple Computer will begin shipping its new iMac G5 desktop computer worldwide in mid-September.

Apple Computer will begin shipping its new iMac G5 desktop computer worldwide in mid-September.

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing, showed off the new machine during a keynote speech at the start of the Apple Expo trade show in Paris.

The screen of the new iMac is suspended above the desk like that of its predecessor, but its processor, hard disc and DVD drive are concealed behind the screen rather than in the base.

"A lot of people are going to be asking, 'Where did the rest of the computer go?'" Schiller said.

Three models will be available. The top-of-the-range model has a 20in LCD screen with a resolution of 1,680 pixels by 1,050 pixels.

It contains a 160Gbyte hard disc drive, an optical drive for burning DVDs and a 1.8GHz G5 processor, and will sell for $1,899 (£1,059). In Europe it will cost €2,059, including value-added tax, Schiller said.

The new machines have two FireWire 400 ports, three Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, audio line-in, optical audio-out, video out, modem and Ethernet connections at the back of the screen. The speaker grills are concealed in the base of the screen and bounce sound off the desktop up to the user.

The other two models have 17in screens, 80Gbyte hard disc drives and optical drives that can burn CDs and read DVDs. The 1.6GHz model will sell for $1,299 (€1,399) and the 1.8 GHz model for $1,499 (€1,629).

Customers choosing the optional Wi-Fi wireless networking and Bluetooth wireless peripherals need only plug in a power cord into the back of the machine and begin surfing the 'net, Schiller said.

The power button is also hidden around the back, the only raised feature on the rear surface and exactly opposite the "sleep" light on the front "so you know where to find it", Schiller said. "We like to joke that the back of our computer is more beautiful than the front of anyone else's computer."

The machines contain a Geforce FX5200 Ultra 64Mbytes video card connected to an AGP 8x graphics bus, and can hold up to 2Gbytes of 400MHz DDR RAM, connected via a 600MHz front-side bus. The hard drives use Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA).

The slot-loading optical drive is mounted vertically, top-right of the machine, with the processor bottom left, cooled by three computer-controlled fans. "We measured the iMac running," Schiller said, "and it is quieter than a whisper".

The 20in model will sell for $300 less than the current, less powerful model.

"It really is a breakthrough in personal computing," Schiller said. "I think that is what Apple is all about."

Other software showcased during the presentation included a forthcoming rendering engine from Luxology LLC, publisher of the 3D modelling tool Modo. Luxology president Brad Peebler showed the software prototype rendering a scene composed of 1.18 billion polygons in 37 seconds.

Apple's Motion real time moving graphics design package also put in an appearance, directed by its technical marketing manager, Joseph Linaschke. The software is now shipping, priced $299 or €289, including tax, in Europe.

The product is priced low because, "We want to get this power into the hands of a lot of our customers," Linaschke said.

Features that will be included in the next release of Apple's Mac OS X operating system software, Tiger were also demonstrated. It will go on sale in the first half of 2005, more than a year before Microsoft's update to its Windows operating system, Longhorn.

"I'm not sure anyone knows when Longhorn is coming, but I know this is well in advance of that," Schiller said.

Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

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