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Apple Updates Mac Line: New Computers Are Faster, Cheaper, Have Bigger Screens

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SEATTLE — Apple Inc. updated its iMac desktop computer line Tuesday and introduced a mouse that responds to the touch of fingers instead of using buttons or scroll wheels.

Those were among the finishing touches on a holiday lineup Apple hopes will help maintain the momentum of the past several quarters, in which the company has grown stronger despite the economic downturn. On Monday, Apple reported its net income soared 47 percent from a year ago, sending shares up sharply in Tuesday trading.

The updated iMacs have bigger screens – 21.5 inches and 27 inches, compared with existing models' 20 inches and 24 inches. They also have speedier processors and better graphics. The least expensive model costs $1,199, the same as the past generation, but the top-of-the-line iMac is now $200 cheaper at $1,999.

The wireless Magic Mouse, as Apple calls it, will be sold standard with iMacs or by itself for $69. It lets people manipulate what they see on the screen by pinching, swiping and using other gestures, similar to the control mechanism made popular on the screen of the iPhone.

Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, said that after using the new mouse for a few months, sitting down at a computer with a traditional mouse makes him "want to throw it out the window."

Apple also made its least expensive laptop, the $999 MacBook, sleeker, faster and more like the higher-end MacBook Pro machines, with a "multitouch" track pad and a sealed-in battery that can't be removed.

Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., told analysts Monday that it will pay more than it usually spends on air freight to ship the new iMacs and other items in time for holiday shopping. That didn't bother investors, who sent Apple shares up $8.80, or 4.6 percent, to $198.66 in midday trading.

Earlier, the stock touched $201.75 per share, nearing the split-adjusted all-time high of $202 set in December 2007.

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