The iMac Channel

The Coming Flat Panel iMac

Dan Knight - 2001.06.11

Sooner or later the iMac is going to be redesigned around a flat panel display. My guess is that could happen any time between Macworld New York in July and the next Macworld San Francisco in January.

Here are some known facts:

  • Apple can build an entire computer that's just 1" thin.
  • Apple can profitably sell a 15" LCD monitor for $599.
  • Apple can make money selling iMacs to schools for $799.
  • Apple can make money selling iBooks to schools for $1,199.

The 15" Studio Display is 16.1" wide, 15.8" tall, and 6.7" thick (including the third leg). It weighs 11.5 pounds.

The current iMac is 15.0" wide, 15.0" tall, and 17.1" deep. It weighs 34.7 pounds.

The PowerBook G4 is 1.0" thick - and it could be even thinner without the display.

The core computer components inside the iMac are fairly small. Rearranged, they would comfortably fit behind the 15" Studio Display, making it at most an inch deeper than the current monitor. I'd expect Apple to trim some of the excess border around the display, give us a flat panel iMac 14" wide, 14" tall, and under 7" deep. Estimated weight: 14-15 pounds.

This is a much more reasonable design for flat panel iMac than the one that's been making the rounds of the Mac Web over the past week. The only real question is where the slot-loading media drive would be - top, right, or left.

I'm not saying the new flat panel iMac will look like a thicker Studio Display, only that this is something Apple could release at Macworld Expo in July. I think they could even offer a base version for as little as $1,099 ($999 education), which is $200 less than the iBook.

Why so much less? First, because you don't need the $129 (retail) battery. Second, because the iMac would use a 3.5" hard drive, not a 2.5" drive like the iBook. 20 GB laptop drives start at $120; 20 GB 3.5" mechanisms sell for as little as $80, trimming still more from the price.

All things considered, there's no reason Apple couldn't do it right now. The question isn't whether Apple can do it, but when they will do it. LEM

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