Apple launches new iMacs and OS

Apple's Steve Jobs served up a new iMac computer line yesterday, one the company says is faster, sleeker, quieter and more Net-friendly than the original version.

Updating the popular, fruit-coloured iMac line issued in August 1998, the new iMacs include one version priced just below $2000. Jobs, orchestrating the unveiling in California, touted the new iMacs as another Apple success story.

The new line includes the updated iMac, the iMac DV (digital video) and the iMac DV Special Edition, which is enclosed in a clear graphite-coloured shell. The new computers will be available from the end of October.

Jobs also announced that a new operating system, the Mac OS 9, will be available October 23. Priced at $149, it will feature a new Sherlock 2 Internet search engine and more than 50 new features.

The iMacs are priced and configured as follows:

-- The iMac for $1995 includes a 350MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64MB SDRAM, 512KB backside cache, a 6GB Ultra ATA hard drive, slot-load 24x CD-ROM, a V.90 56K modem, 10/100BASE-T and two USB ports. The iMAC is designed to work without a fan, includes a new sound system and comes in Blueberry colour.

-- The iMac DV for $2595 includes the same configuration as the iMac, but runs at 400MHz, has a 10GB hard drive, 4X DVD-ROM drive with DVD video playback, two 400Mbps Fire Wire ports and iMove software. The computer comes in Blueberry, Grape, Lime, Strawberry and Tangerine.

-- The iMac DV Special Edition for $2995, has the same configuration as the iMac, but with 128MB SDRAM and a 13GB Ultra ATA hard drive. It's available in Graphite.

The timing of the launch is auspicious for Apple, analysts said. The holiday buying season is underway and other vendors are releasing their own attractive PCs.

"They needed to put out something new," said Schelley Olhava, an analyst for IDC. Other vendors, including Compaq, Gateway and NEC have attractive, new PCs coming onto the market, she said.

"They had a lot of success with the iMac because they had an installed base (of loyal Apple customers)," she said. "Now, those customers could be sated. Will they bring in new buyers?"

Compaq this week announced a new "metallic midnight blue" Presario 3550, bundled with a 15in flat-panel monitor and a slim tower that takes up 60 per cent less floor or desk space compared to a traditional microtower desktop, Compaq said in a statement. Powered by a 500MHz Intel Celeron processor, the 3550 is only available in the US at a price of $US1999.

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