27" iMac rules Apple's new gear

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The highlights of today's announcements are the Magic Mouse, a 27" iMac, and a Mac Mini designed to be used as a server. There's also a new plastic MacBook, for people who are allergic to aluminium.

The new buttonless mouse is best summed up thusly: ZOMG. But this ZOMGness arises in large part by comparison to its dismal precedessors. Apple's mice have for at least a decade been its design blind spot--an ugly but usable Logitech is a common substitution in otherwise unsullied Mac setups--so this is a must-see item for anyone who cares about that sort of thing. Multitouch!

Apple's new iMacs offer a 16:9 aspect ratio, 4GB of RAM as standard, terabyte hard drives and SD card slots. The 27" model is today's best of show: despite being about the same price as a 30" cinema display (which has the same horizontal resolution and 140 more lines) you get a decent all-in-one computer with the option of a gaming-ish-caliber Radeon HD 4850 video card. Furthermore, it has video-in, meaning it'll still be useful as a display after the system within falls into obsolescence. If only it had Blu-Ray and a TV tuner!

The Mac Mini server drops the optical drive and gains dual 500GB hard drives: hello, redundant backups. Folks have quietly hankered for this for a long time, and its a popular hack. Now you can buy it off the shelf for $1,000, a good deal for the IT crowd considering the bundled OSX Server software, but way too steep for home users who just want a RAIDable storage box with real HTPC chops.

Also announced today were better-performing routers and Time Capsules (Joel Johnson reports that buying a router from Apple is the final point where you've basically given it all up to them) and new aluminum remotes.

As for the white MacBook, it has no SD card slot, no FireWire, and no budget price tag. Considering that its 13.3" metal sibling is the best mainstream laptop in existence, what's the point? Correct me, plastic fans.

Press release [Apple]