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Apple adds 4K display option to 21.5-inch iMacs, 27in go fully 5K and Magic Touchpad gets Force Touch

iMac with Retina Display 2015

More resolution, faster internals and better accessories: it's the 2015 iMac line-up

You didn’t think Apple was done with its recent launches did you? Fresh off the back of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPad Mini 4, iPad Pro, iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, Apple has now turned its eye to the iMac, updating and revamping its all-in-one computer and its accessories. All are available today from the Apple store.

First, comes the new 21.5-inch iMac, which now has a model with a Retina 4K display (4,096×2,304), starting at £1,199. It’s great to see the smaller iMac get a display upgrade, as it was the only Apple computer with an integral screen not have such an upgrade. Of course, El Capitan is brilliant at handling high DPI screens, so you should get brilliantly sharp images without text becoming too small to read. For those that don’t want to splash out this much on a computer, the old 1080p 21.5-inch iMac remains available, starting at £899. 

5K is standard

For the 27-inch iMac, 5K (5,120×2,880) is no longer an option: it’s the only display that’s available with the display. When this display was introduced, it cost a whopping £1,999 for an iMac with the matching display; today, the 27-inch iMac costs from £1,449. That’s quite a bit less for the highest-resolution computer screen that you can currently buy.

Skylake internals

Both iMacs look the same from the outside, but internally Apple has revamped them. Of course, the first thing to change is the processor, with Apple upgrading to use Intel Skylake chips. When Expert Reviews tested Skylake we found that it was around 13% faster than the equivalent previous generation, Haswell, chips. Two Thunderbolt 2 ports come as standard, as does three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi (up to 1.3Gbit/s). 

Both iMac sizes are available with mechanical hard disks, but I say avoid these models, as OS X really needs some flash storage if you want the best performance. For that reason, the minimum that you should buy is the 1TB fusion drive, which combines 24GB of fast flash with 1TB of mechanical storage; the new faster flash storage holds the files and apps you use most to boost performance. Optionally, you can upgrade to 2TB or 3TB fusion drives, both of which also have 128GB of flash storage. If you want even better performance, there are flash-only options, with sizes ranging between 256GB and 1TB (not all options are available with every model).

New Magic peripherals

Apple hasn’t revamped its wireless Magic peripherals in a while, so it’s good to see these finally getting a makeover. The one that I’m most excited about is the Magic Trackpad 2, which now has Force Touch. I love using the original Magic Trackpad on the desktop, as the multi-touch gestures it supports makes switching tasks and desktops so much easier than using the keyboard or mouse; however, after getting used to the Force Touch trackpad on my 13-inch MacBook Pro, I missed the hard press on the Magic Trackpad. The new trackpad is available today, but it’s a little expensive: £109.

Next, Apple has revamped its mouse, bringing the Magic Mouse 2. In my mind, Apple’s mouse has been the weakest part, with the tiny Magic Mouse a little uncomfortable to hold and use. The new model has been designed to be a little bigger, sturdier and to glide easier. I’m going to save judgement on this one until I’ve had a chance to use the new model. It’s available now for £65.

Finally, there’s a new wireless keyboard, which takes up 13% less desk space than the previous model. It uses a new scissor system on the keys for a lower-profile keyboard. I’m interested in trying this out, as Apple’s keyboards are the best in the business. However, what I’d really like is a wireless keyboard with a numeric keypad: you can only have this with the USB model. The Magic Keyboard is available today for £79.

Apple Magic Accessories 2

What’s really good about these devices is that they all have integrated rechargeable batteries, which should last around a month on a single charge. Every peripheral is charged via an integrated Lightning port; as you’ll likely have an iPhone or iPad, you’ve most likely already got the right cable plugged in. Impressively, plugging any of the new peripherals in via Lightning will also pair them automatically to your computer, so no messing around in the Bluetooth Preferences dialog box anymore.

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