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TECH TRENDS

Apple, Win7 products unveiled

October 21, 2009|David Colker

Apple Inc. has made significant upgrades to its venerable iMac computers and several other products.

The announcement of the new wares came Tuesday, which is perhaps not coincidental. On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. is set to unveil its Windows 7 operating system, and concurrently reveal several new computers created with the system in mind.

Here's a look at what Apple brought forth, and what's known about the Win7-friendly computers about to debut.

Apple

The new products, most made available upon the announcement, didn't mark a big-enough change to warrant one of the firm's Steve Jobs-hosted events. But there are significant enhancements, mostly without major price changes.

The new iMac comes in two models -- one with a 27-inch screen (starting at $1,699) and the other with a 21.5-inch screen (starting at $1,199). Both screens are LED-backlit.

Both models come standard with processors that run at a swift 3.06GHz. And they use Apple's new multi-touch mouse (see below).

What the new iMacs don't have are drives to play Blu-ray discs -- a feature some Apple watchers had predicted.

The newly upgraded 13-inch MacBook laptop is $999 (no price change) and has some features that were previously available only on higher-priced Apple models, including a longer-lasting (touted to run up to seven hours on a charge), nonremovable battery and a multi-touch track pad.

The Mac Mini, which is Apple's lowest-priced, stripped-down desktop computer (it comes without screen, keyboard or mouse) has undergone performance enhancements. The starting price remains the same at $599.

The most radical product change is not to a computer but to Apple's wireless mouse -- called the Magic Mouse -- which comes with the new iMacs and can be purchased separately for $69.

Its entire top surface is touch-sensitive, and it recognizes when you are using two fingers, instead of one, to trigger certain functions, such as right-clicking or going back or forward through pages on the Safari Web browser.

This was probably inspired by the multi-touch track pads on recent versions of Mac laptops. The multi-touch feature went far beyond novelty status to become a staple that cut work time and made computing more fun.

Windows 7

Some companies already have released information about their Win7-ready products. Many were designed to work with touch-screen features that are part of the new operating system.

Hewlett-Packard Co. will have four touch-screen products. At the low end is the TouchSmart 300, an all-in-one desktop with a 20-inch screen for about $900 and up.

The TouchSmart 600, an all-in-one that will sell for about $1,100, will sport a 23-inch screen. An upgraded version, for about $1,600, will be able to show video at 1080p resolution.

The TouchSmart tx2 is a tablet computer with a screen that folds down flat over the unit, screen side up. It will start at about $800.

Finally, the LD4200tm is a 42-inch touch screen monitor. It will go for about $2,800.

For the budget-minded, HP's bargain line, Compaq, will have the CQ61z laptop with a 15-inch screen (non-touch) at $399. But the Compaq price is temporary -- after Dec. 19 it will jump to $499.

Toshiba Corp. will have two Satellite-branded laptops with touch screens. Its M505 with a 14-inch screen will go for about $950, while the U505 with a 13-inch screen will be about $1,050. Why will the laptop with the smaller screen be more expensive? One reason, the company said, is that the case will sport a "textured" finish.

One of the oddest new offerings will come from Acer Inc., which will have a laptop equipped to show 3-D movies. But it will be no miracle machine. You'll still have to wear the wacky glasses to see the effect.

--

david.colker@latimes.com

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