This is more of a PSA than anything else: just like Apple said they'd be, the new iMacs are on sale today, with the 21.5-inch model available right away and the 27-inch version shipping in December. The smaller guy starts at $1,299, though there's also a more tricked-out $1,499 version; the 27-incher starts at $1,799 and goes up to $1,999. Whichever the model, a few key design principles apply. For staters, both measure just 5mm thick at the edges, and neither has a built-in optical drive. Both promise a 15 to 20 percent performance boost fueled partly by Ivy Bridge, and partly by Apple's new FusionDrive, which combines an HDD with a 128GB solid-state drive, with everything stored on the SSD by default until you run out of space. Finally, both promise 75 percent less screen glare, thanks to a manufacturing process that eliminates the gap between the LCD and the glass. (Apple and other OEMs already use a similar technique on smartphones; we've just never seen it done on a screen quite this large.)
So what separates the two, then, aside from screen size? Specs, mostly. And also, resolution. The 21-inch version has a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel count, while the 27-incher steps up to 2,560 x 1,440. (In other words, the same resolution as last year's offerings.) While both pack quad-core Core i5 processors, the 21.5-inch model starts with a 2.7GHz clock speed, compared with 2.9GHz for the bigger guy. As you might have guessed, the graphics are slightly better on the larger version: NVIDIA's GTX 660M is standard there, versus GT 640M on the 21-incher. Both offer 1TB of storage, but the smaller machine uses a 5,400RPM drive while the bigger one has a 7,200RPM disk. The 27-incher can also be configured with a 3TB drive or 768GB SSD. As for RAM, both come with eight gigs standard, but the 21.5-inch model goes up to 16GB, while the 27-inch version goes up to 32GB and has user-accessible memory slots.
As it happens, we have two new iMacs here in house (one in each size, natch) and you can expect a full review very soon. For now, though, we've got some unboxing shots and first impressions just past the break.
iMac (2012) unboxingSee all photos
Second, and more importantly, the display truly is an improvement over the panel on last year's iMac. Even with the two machines powered off, the newer model reflects noticeably less light than the old one. Turn it on and you're basically looking at a wall of color: balanced, lively tones, uninterrupted by screen glare or artifacts. The screen is fantastically crisp, too, but we're tempted to say the resolution is secondary to the screen technology here; we always noticed the colors before the finer details. Plus, as we said, the screens on last year's models had the same pixel count, and still didn't look as nice as this.
In any event, that is as far as our eyes and unboxing will take us for now. We'll be back with a full review soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the computer porn.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.