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Apple’s new iMac is arriving in retail stores on Planet Earth from the 30th of November, shaming PC makers with thicker all-in-one designs while powering ahead at warp speed into the hybrid nirvana of Fusion Drive storage – just in the nick of time for Santa’s sack.

With November 30 still two days away and 24 days of major pre-Christmas and end-of-year holiday sales season shopping to come, Apple has ensured its new iMac launches just in time to take full advantage of the busiest shopping time of the year.

Packed with seemingly every single major possible advance save a multi-touch screen, something Apple is obviously saving for a future 2013 or 2014 hybrid iOS X computing revolution announcement that will fundamentally transform the way we all do everything digitally forever more, the new iMac certainly looked mighty impressive during its recent keynote event unfolding.

Transforming what was once the cool current model into one that’s visibly last-gen is something Apple has managed to do in spades with its new iMac, as Apple’s Phil Schiller noted to the effect of during the keynote, there’s a stack of features and updates to designed to seriously tempt existing iMac users – and PC/Linux switchers – to what is assuredly, at any rate, the crunchiest side of the force.

Apple headlines the “stunning design”, and reminds us of the visually enhanced new display that “reduces reflection by 75%”.

Naturally, there’s a range of faster processors to choose from, as well as the option of upgrading to a Fusion Drive, one that blends 128GB of SSD storage with 1TB or 3TB of hard drive storage, with more on that in a sec.

First, the “edge” of each iMac is 5mm thin, which is pretty impressive for an all-in-one design (although likely again at the expense of easier repairability), there’s 8GB of 1600MHz memory and “the latest NVIDIA GeForce graphics” promising “up to 60% faster performance”.

Fusion Drives are also available in obviously more expensive 3TB configurations, with the same 128 SSD hybrid design, but oddly, according to Apple’s own support document,  the 3TB version does not support Boot Camp “at this time”, meaning the 1TB model has no such limitation.  

Anyway, when your new iMac is equipped with a Fusion Drive, that 128GB of storage contains Mac OS X 10.8.2 and all your other pre-loaded applications, while keeping a few gigabytes of SSD storage space as a temporary space so information copied to the Fusion Drive copies across faster, and is transferred to the roomier but slower hard disk storage over the course of the drive’s usage and calculations (along with those of OS X) for the best times to transfer data to and from the faster 128GB SSD space.

Apple says that this fusion of SSD and HDD is used to “create a single storage volume that intelligently manages files to optimise read and write performance.

Another storage medium that’s had a change is the inbuilt DVD burner.

Apple has removed it, thanks to it becoming increasingly redundant, having even successfully skipped the “bag of hurt” that was Steve Jobs’ own description for the Blu-ray standard.

Naturally, there’s also USB 3.0 ports, Thunderbolt ports and more for maximum speedy connectivity.

With all the new features and design, it should come as no surprise to see Apple state that “the new iMac is the most advanced desktop Apple has ever made.

As with the last couple of models, the new iMac comes in two sizes: 21.5-inches and a impressively massive 27-inch model, although there’s an availability caveat: only the 21.5-inch Mac is coming on the last day of November through Apple’s online and retail stores, along with “select” authorised resellers, with the 27-inch iMac only available for pre-order for shipping that will begin at an unspecified in December.  

Prices for the 21.5-inch model start at AUD $1429, with an even faster model starting at $1598, while the 27-inch model starts at $1999 with a faster model at $2,199.

Full pricing, specs and other details and even more performance upgrade options are available here at Apple’s Australian site. Check your local Apple site for pricing in your country.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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