Apple releases new Magic Trackpad, updated iMacs and Mac Pros

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Apple's new Magic Trackpad, seen from above
Image: Micky Aldridge.

On Tuesday, Apple Inc. introduced a new peripheral, the Magic Trackpad, and refreshed its line of iMac and Mac Pro computers, as well as the Apple Cinema Display.

The Magic Trackpad, a multi-touch trackpad for Macintosh computers, allows end users to use certain gestures to control on-screen actions. It supports gestures already seen on the MacBook and MacBook Pro trackpads, as well as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, such as swiping, tap-to-click, and pinch-to-zoom. However, the Magic Trackpad also supports physical clicking and supports one- and two-button commands. The Magic Trackpad, which is retailed for US$69, connects wirelessly to a computer using Bluetooth technology and has a claimed four months of battery life. At 5.17 inches (13.13 centimetres) long and 5.12 inches (13 centimetres) wide, the glass and aluminium device is slightly larger than Apple's laptop trackpads.

In addition to the Magic Trackpad, Apple also began selling the US$29 Apple Battery Charger accessory, a charger pack with six rechargeable batteries usable in the Magic Trackpad, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Magic Mouse. Apple claims that the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries can last up to ten years before they lose their ability to hold a charge. The Magic Trackpad uses two AA batteries, and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled Macintosh computer running Mac OS X 10.6.4.

Another major announcement that came on Tuesday was the first iMac update since last fall. The update included mostly internal upgrades, giving consumers a choice of newer Intel processors: the dual-core Core i3 and Core i5, and the quad-core Core i5 and Core i7. In addition, the SD card slot was expanded to allow support for the Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) format. The iMac is still available at 21.5-inch (54.61-centimetre) and 27-inch (68.58-centimetre) display options, but has upgraded graphics cards as well. The screens use in-plane switching (IPS) technology, allowing for a greater viewing angle. The base model is still priced at US$1,199.

Apple's line of Mac Pro computers were also given a refresh on Tuesday. Consumers now have the option to purchase a Mac Pro with twelve processing cores, using two six-core Intel Xeon processors. Four-, six-, and eight-core options are still available. The update also includes the choice of adding up to four, 512GB solid state drives, instead of conventional hard drives. The base model is priced at US$2,499 and will be sold starting in August.

Apple also released a new, 27-inch (68.58 centimetre) LED Cinema Display, a 60 percent increase in display area from the older 24-inch (60.96 centimetres) Cinema Display. The new monitor can reach a resolution of 2560-by-1440 pixels, or Wide Quad High Definition, and has a built-in microphone, webcam, speakers, USB hub, and ambient light sensor, which changes the display's brightness based on external lighting levels. It is priced at US$999 but will not be available for purchase until September.


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