Macs have that irresistible charm when they come out with new features. I must admit that I don’t get the same feeling when I buy my new accessories or upgrades for my PC. It might be due to the fact that it’s both new software and hardware you get when you buy a new Mac.
It was only a few months after Apple announced that they’ll be saying goodbye to Motorola’s Power PC processor (will that make those G5 iMacs collectibles?), when they officially released in Jan 10, 2006 (but will be available in Apple Stores in the U.S. starting Jan 17, 2006), the iMac with Intel’s Core Duo processor.
Except for this new CPU (at either 1.83 or 2.0 GHz) and a slew of new software, the 2006 Intel-powered iMacs differ only from the revamped G5 iMac (with the remote control) that Apple released in mid-2005, by taking advantage of what the new processor can offer: faster bus speed, bigger L2 cache, and faster memory/graphics bus speeds. Speed, speed and more speed was the end result of the shift to Intel processors. And, maybe, cool-up things a bit inside these marvelous machines.
Opening the new iMac with Intel Core Duo (as well as the iMac G5 w/ built-in iSight) is not as easy anymore unlike the original versions with the G5 chips. Apple had replaced the screws on the bottom grill with Torx (T8) ones. And, where usually the back cover slips easily away from the other half of the case to reveal the guts, this is no longer the situation today. The entire components including the LCD are still attached to the plastic back cover after removing all the screws.
Everything seems to have remained the same like the built-in iSight camera, the MightyMouse, the Apple Remote, built-in Bluetooth/AirPort, screen sizes and resolutions, the ports – with the exception of a new mini-DVI video connector– as well as the physical dimensions of the unit and yes, even the prices.
But perhaps, it’s the new software included what makes any true-blue Mac lovers drool about these new Intel-powered iMacs. It’s no secret that Microsoft just simply tweaks any new Apple software innovation and incorporates them in their new Windows version releases. What up-coming features Windows Vista will offer — ho-hum, Mac users had probably saw them already in the Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) released way back in 2002.
The new Intel-based iMacs will run Mac OS X Tiger version 10.4.4 (the port of the latest OS X Tiger version 10.4.3 on the G5 iMac to accommodate the Intel processor), and by bundling iLife 2006, Apple is hoping to lure more technophiles to Apple’s ecosystem by giving away these new software currently being offered only as ‘add-ons’ by the PC makers ‘for the rest of them.’ Features like podcasting & iChat interview recording (in GarageBand 3.0), ‘photo-casting’ (in iPhoto 6), Magic iDVD (in iDVD 6) and the new app on the block – iWeb.
iWeb is Apple’s answer to the podcasting and blogging fad – – fads that all big content providers like Google and Yahoo are all hoping to become part of the mainstream Internet. Much the same way when having an iPod was only a fad. It had become so successful that it’s now a huge slice of the PC industry pie.
Also, be very careful not to confuse the hole between these screws as yet another screw – – it’s the ambient-light sensor. This hole is the next one after the leftmost screw, when your iMac is laying face down (and the word ‘iMac’ at the back cover, is facing you). Poking a screwdriver/Torx driver in it may crack the delicate protective cover.
FrontRow still needs an either a hardware or software upgrade to make it work seamlessly with the remote control. There were just too many occasions when you have to push the controls on the remote several times to switch modes – specially from iTunes to iPhoto. I noted a bug when you’re watching a DVD with a “Resume” sub-menu — clicking on the Play button on the remote won’t resume the movie.
By releasing two (2) new hardware – the Intel-powered iMac & a similarly Intel-powered, MacBook – very early in the year, they will surely make new PC consumers (and folks who will upgrade their outdated computers) take a closer look on these new Apple lineup before they finally decide on their purchases.
And, by giving more and more away on what usually were separate products, Apple hopes that it will reap the rewards later on – – all from creating new innovations that consumers can’t resist.
See related 2004 blog on the original G5 iMac released the same year here