Apple Retina iMacs Could Be Coming Next Month, Cementing Our High-DPI Future

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Apple could finally be readying the launch of new Retina iMacs alongside OS X Yosemite this fall, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. Were the company to ship these this year, following what the report claims is near-final testing, it would spell the end for the Age of the Discernible Pixel, and all would be well in the Kingdom of Desktop Compute. And lo, the people would celebrate.

The Retina iMac is a beast of almost mythical proportions at this stage, with rumors and rumblings of its development and release dating back to the introduction of the first Retina MacBook Pros, in the murky, distant past of June 2012. Apple’s progress with Retina desktops was likely slowed by the cost of producing high-resolution displays at the size required for iMacs. Even the smallest iMac sports a 21.7-inch display, which adds up to a lot more surface area than even the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The intervening two-plus years have given Apple time to work on the cost effectiveness of their display suppliers, and have also seen high-resolution displays become much more prevalent, thanks to Ultra HD TVs and computer monitors. Apple has also included software references to Retina resolutions that fit with the current sizing of iMac screens in betas of the upcoming Yosemite software update for OS X, its desktop OS.

These new iMacs will reportedly keep the thin chassis of the current models, and might appear alongside their non-Retina variants and higher-priced options, which is how Apple introduced its Retina laptop line. They’ll offer significant benefits for video editors working in 4K resolution, and the report also claims that updated versions of Final Cut Pro and iMovie will support that higher-resolution video footage.

Retina could give Apple’s desktop line an injection of fresh energy that they could use, given how long they’ve gone now without a splashy update. The last big change was the thinner cases, but a significant functional improvement, besides changes under the hood, would make for a much better sales proposition and upgrade incentive for holiday shoppers.

The fact is the current resolution on Apple’s desktops probably still suits the needs of most. From the seated distance most use them at, they also won’t betray any particularly “low-res” visual assets like pixelation, but the jump up will afford a level of clarity that will make using your desktop similar to the experience of working with print-resolution images and documents. Still, while the future is definitely high-DPI, any Macs we see next month in this category will probably be aimed at higher-end consumers and professionals to begin with.