Apple rumoured to launch updated systems tomorrow

Alongside new displays and other potential goodies

IF YOU’VE BEEN putting off buying a new shiny iMac or Mac Pro you might just have done yourself a favour, at least if the rumour that Apple is set to unleash a wealth of updated products tomorrow are true. So what are Apple’s fanboys and fangirls hoping will be unveiled tomorrow? Well, a lot of new kit with shiny new features, that’s what.

To add some meat on the bones to this rumour, there are another couple of rumours doing the rounds that suggests that there’s a shortage of certain Mac Pro and iMac models in Apple stores, although the online Apple store doesn’t seem to reflect this at the moment. The rumour with regards to tomorrows product updates comes courtesy of John Gruber at Daring Fireball and he’s suggesting that not only will we see updated Mac Pro’s and iMac’s, but also potentially a new 27-inch cinema display and the much rumoured multi-touch trackpad.

So what to expect from the new Mac’s? Well, again this is only speculation, but it’s believed that we’ll see USB 3.0 support as well as potential support for faster FireWire speeds, although the latter sounds unlikely. FireWire S1600 isn’t quite as much of a stretch as S3200, as there should already be S1600 chipsets in the market, but S3200 is only said to be hitting the market by the end of this year. Both the iMac and Mac Pro lines are expected to get support for USB 3.0 and the supposedly faster FireWire interface.

New CPUs are also expected and the word is that Apple will finally be dropping Intel’s Core 2 range of processors in favour for the Core i3 or possibly the Core i5 in the entry level iMac. One big question that remains to be answered is if Apple will decide to put discrete graphics in the entire iMac line-up or not, as the current entry level models features integrated graphics courtesy of the Nvidia chipset.

It will also be interesting to see if Apple will upgrade its graphics card offerings across the board, as the iMac’s have what by now can only be considered as slightly antiquated Radeon HD 4000-series mobile graphics. The Mac Pro is in an even worse state when it comes to graphics, as the choice is between a GeForce GT 120 (or four) or a Radeon HD 4870, neither is exactly what we’d call cutting edge. We’d expect support for the Radeon HD 5000-series as Apple already has drivers working for these cards, but the word is mum with regards to Nvidia and Intel graphics support.

The rumoured 27-inch cinema display is expected to use the same LED backlit 16:9 as the one found in the iMac with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. If priced somewhere between the current 24 and 30-inch models at let’s say $1,200, this could be a huge seller for Apple as there’s no real competition in this market space at the moment with the exception of the Dell UltraSharp U2711 and a very expensive model from NEC. However, as always we’d expect Apple to charge a premium for its products, so the new 27-inch display is likely to have a price tag closer to $1,500. As with regards to the new touch pad, the speculation here is that it’ll be a small touch screen based on some pictures of such a device leaking earlier this month.

With Apple it’s always hard to guess what’s next, but these are the most sensible rumours of the ones that are circulating. We might also see other features such as Bluetooth 3.0, as Apple has always been on the forefront of Bluetooth technology. Don’t expect to see support for Blu-ray as it appears Apple has no interest in supporting this disc format. It’s also too early for Intel’s LightPeak technology to make its way into this generation of Macs.

In related news, Apple is working on a new build of OS X which should be release 10.6.5 when it becomes available to the public. It’s currently being released to a few developers for testing, although it’s unclear when Apple might be ready to release this update. However, the new Macs should come with special builds of OS X with support for all the new hardware as per usual with Apple and new models.S|A

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