Apple upgrades iMac and Mac Pro, unveils Magic Trackpad for multitouch

After months of speculation, Apple today has finally unveiled the latest updates to its iMac and Mac Pro computer line. The company also revealed its long-rumored Magic TrackPad — a USB accessory that resembles a larger version of the MacBook Pro’s trackpad and brings increased multitouch functionality to the desktop.

New to the iMac line is the addition of Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, higher quality IPS display panels (for wider viewing angles and better overall quality), as well as dedicated graphics options across the board using ATI’s Radeon HD video cards. The graphics bump means that every iMac will have a separate video card on board with its own dedicated memory — something that will be particularly useful for 3D games and other graphics-heavy applications. Apple also added an SD card slot that can read the newer SDXC format.

The iMac line now ranges from a $1,119 unit with a 21.5-inch screen, 3.06Ghz Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and ATI Radeon HD 4670 video card with 256MB of its own memory — to a $1,999 model with a 27-inch screen, 2.8Ghz quad Core i5 CPU, and ATI Radeon HD 5750 video card with 1GB of memory. The 27-inch model can also be upgraded with a 2.93Ghz Core i7 CPU, 256GB solid-state drive, and a 2-terabyte hard drive. If you can afford it, you can even order a 27-inch model with both a 2 TB and solid-state hard drive.

The iMac upgrades aren’t anything surprising, but they will help to keep iMacs competitive against many other desktops sporting Intel’s newer processors.

Apple’s Mac Pro upgrades are even more prosaic. They now include Intel’s new Xeon line of server processors, which offer four cores at the low-end ($2,499) and a whopping 12-cores with the highest end model ($4,999). The latter milestone is achieved by combining two CPUs that each sport six cores. ATI’s Radeon HD 5870 with 1GB of memory is also the new default graphics option for all Mac Pros.

The Magic Trackpad is pretty much exactly what we reported a month ago — the Macbook Pro’s trackpad made larger, and designed to fit alongside Apple’s current desktop input devices. It’s now retailing for $69, and thus far it’s only compatible with Macs. Some intrepid Windows developer could make a driver for the device, but it likely won’t be as useful on Microsoft’s platform — whereas Apple has had multitouch integrated in its laptops and Mac OSX for some time now.

Although it clicks like a normal mouse, I don’t suspect that it will replace Apple’s multitouch Magic Mouse anytime soon. Initially, it will likely serve as yet another fancy accessory for the Mac faithful. But Apple could eventually do something interesting with the device. The Magic Trackpad also adds a new multitouch gesture to Mac OSX in the form of a three-finger swipe to move windows around.

In other news, Apple also announced a new 27-inch version of its Cinema Display for $999. It sports a 16:9 aspect ratio, an iSight webcam, and an array of USB ports. It’s also perfectly suited for Macbook and Macbook Pro owners since it features a single cable with Mini Displayport, USB, and MagSafe power connections.