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Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Apple unveils Magic Mouse, new MacBooks

October 20, 2009 by Robin Parrish  
Filed under Electronics

Amid an atypical lack of fanfare, Apple today has upgraded its line of iMacs, plastic unibody MacBooks, Mac Minis, and unveiled the long-rumored “Magic Mouse,” the multitouch replacement for the Mighty Mouse. Let’s look at each one.

The biggest news is the Magic Mouse. Apple has always struggled when it comes to making a really useful mouse, but initial impressions of this one is that it could be the winner Mac users have been waiting for. It uses the patented multi-touch technology Apple has used to great success on the iPhone and last-generation MacBooks.

The device has a low-profile top shell that’s all one piece — no buttons or scroll wheels in sight. Instead, all of those functions and more are done using gestures on the touch-sensitive shell. Like old Mac mice, the entire Magic Mouse is one big button, though PC-style right-clicking is made easier now by simply clicking the top right corner of the shell. To scroll up, down, side to side, or even in circles, just brush your Magic Mouse in the direction you want to scroll. A two-finger swipe function allows you to easily browse iPhoto pics or go back or forward in your web browser.

The Magic Mouse comes standard on all new iMacs (see below) but can be added to any Bluetooth-friendly Mac desktop for $69.

Another big — but expected — announcement was the upgraded white plastic MacBook. Though the price hasn’t changed from the standard $999, Apple boasts that it’s been completely redesigned. The sleek “unibody” design that Apple has successfully used to minimize the thickness of the aluminum MacBook Air and MacBook Pro has finally made it to the plastic MacBook, as has the glass multitouch trackpad. Apple claims that the new MacBook runs more energy-efficient than its predecessor, lasting up to seven hours on a single charge. The laptop also has a brighter, more brilliant screen, thanks to its 13″ LED display. You can expect all of the usual upgrades in power and storage space as well, along with a greener, more environmentally friendly profile.

The iMac got a small overhaul, going up in display size to 21.5″ and 27″ LEDs. The 21.5″ has a 1920×1080 pixel resolution, but the 27″ displays at a mind-boggling 2560×1440 pixels, which is well beyond HD standards. Included standard are a wireless keyboard and the new Magic Mouse. Storage is now available up to 2 terabytes, memory goes up to 16GB, and for the first time ever, the iMac has an SD card slot nestled right beside the DVD-ROM drive. There are several other little aesthetic enhancements, but most of them are the kind of thing that improve the experience without drawing attention to themselves.

Not a bad showing, but the biggest takeaway here might be that neither the MacBook nor the iMac got two long-awaited features: Blu-ray drives and touchscreens.

Last but not least, the Mac Mini got a boost in power and environmental factors, jumping up 200% in memory over the last generation. You get a GeForce 9400M graphics processor, and built-in WiFi. And for the first time, your Mac Mini can function as a server, with Snow Leopard Server in the mix, and the option to expand the device’s memory up to a full terabyte.

Images: Apple Inc.

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