New iMac has flat-panel display, looks like a lamp

Having promised a new consumer product that is "innovative, revolutionary and different," Apple Computer is expected Monday to take the wraps off a redesigned iMac which looks more like a desk lamp than a desktop computer.

The original, bubble-like iMac was an instant hit when it was unveiled in 1998. The colorful computers have been credited with saving Apple from the doldrums it had settled into during the mid-1990s. But over time, some analysts said the iMac's design had become stale and was in need of a fresh look to boost sales.

Details of the new iMac have been scarce, with Apple officials remaining tight-lipped on what users can expect the company to unveil at this week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The cat, however, is already out of the bag.

The first pictures of the new iMac slipped into the public domain on Monday, when Time Inc.'s Canadian Web site, Time Canada, ran two photographs of the elusive revamped iMac.

The design of the new iMac is a radical departure from the previous version. Its base is a small, halved sphere that measures 26.4 centimeters in diameter, according to the Time report. A flat-panel monitor is attached to the base using a jointed chrome neck that can be adjusted to position the monitor. The monitor itself is ringed by a translucent plastic "halo" while the rest of the case and the base is white plastic.

The new iMac, which is priced starting from US$1,299, includes a raft of multimedia software applications and, in the top-of-the-range $1,800 model, a DVD (digital versatile disc) burner, the report said. The iMac will ship with iDVD, which allows users to make DVD movies; iMovie, a video editing application; iPhoto, a digital photo editing tool; and iTunes, which lets users convert CD music into MP3 files and can synch with Apple's iPod portable MP3 music player, it said.

The Time article, however, did not reveal several key technical features of the new iMac, including what processor the computer uses, the amount of main memory it has, how big the hard disk drive is, and whether it offers built-in support for wireless networking protocols such as Bluetooth or 802.11b.

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