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Apple says 17-inch iMac still available; more hardware tidbits

Apple Inc. this week confirmed a stay of execution for its previous-generation 17-iMac all-in-one desktop, which will remain available for order and purchase by educational institutions. Meanwhile, several other tidbits regarding the company's latest hardware introductions have surfaced.

17-inch iMac left to linger for EDU

In a note to channel partners this week, Apple said that its late-2006 17-inch iMac will remain available for educational institutions indefinitely, confirming earlier speculation on the matter.

Only authorized schools and universities may purchase the $899 white-clad systems, however, meaning that students will remain restricted in their purchase options to the firm's latest 20- and 24-inch aluminum models (with educational discounts).

The 17-inch educational iMac remains unchanged from last year and will continue pack a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2MB shared L2 cache, 512MB memory, 160GB Serial ATA hard drive, 24x Combo drive, and an Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 memory.

Mighty Mouse gets its tail trimmed

Meanwhile, Apple also confirmed that it is shipping a slightly modified Mighty Mouse alongside its new aluminum iMacs. Although the mouse appears visually the same, its side buttons are colored white and its cord is significantly shorter than previous versions.

In order to reduce desktop clutter, the new iMacs ship with a Mighty Mouse whose cord has been trimmed from 30 inches down to 18.5 inches, Apple said. At this time, it appears that the only way to obtain the revised mouse is by purchasing one of the new iMacs. The retail version of the Mighty Mouse maintains the longer cord.

iMac retail configs with wireless package

Apple in recent days has also informed members of its retail team that it will soon begin offering special iMac retail configurations that will be available with wireless versions of the Apple Mighty Mouse and Apple Keyboard.

These retail-only configurations will be available exclusively from Apple stores once the company starts manufacturing its new wireless keyboard. Although announced along side the new iMacs earlier this month, the wireless keyboard has yet to ship. Checks with the Apple online store continue to reflect lead times of 4- 6 weeks for the peripheral, which should be available for the holiday rush.

Existing iMac retail configurations ship with wired versions of the Apple Mighty Mouse and Keyboard.

Mac mini

Separately, Apple this week also informed channel partners that its latest 'refresh' to the Mac mini includes more memory, larger hard drives and Core 2 Duo processors, but otherwise saw no developmental changes from the models introduced a year ago.

The mini, which is believed to be ailing, saw no changes to its Intel GMA 950 graphics controller and AirPort Extreme 802.11 wireless support, which remains limited to just 802.11g.

"Apple does not provide a solution for upgrading the Mac mini to 802.11n," the company said in a separate note to partners.