At long last: new iMacs almost here?

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Apple’s sure taking its sweet time updating its desktop computers, isn’t it? Lightweight notebooks like the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are clearly Apple’s priority these days, but there is still a contingent of people who badly want to upgrade their all-in-one Apple desktops. For those of you who fit that description, it looks like good news is on its way. On Friday, Fox News’ Clayton Morris says he’s heard from “multiple” people that upgraded iMacs are “imminent.”

The last iMac upgrade occurred in May 2011.

What will see see in these new models? They could have Retina displays or something very close to it. Here are the other features Morris is told will be in the new desktops:

A few things we can count on in the new iMacs are new Ivy Bridge processors, improved graphics chips, USB 3.0, and expanded SSD capacities. Also look for a new slimmer design with Apple finally removing the optical drive from the side.

The lack of an optical disk drive might be surprising to some, but there have been clues this was coming. Eagle-eyed developers looking at OS X Mountain Lion code last month saw hints that Apple was heading this direction. The argument for no optical drive in laptops like the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with Retina display was that it eliminated extra bulk. The argument for not including them in a desktop like the iMac? Apple considers it legacy technology. And Apple’s not the only one — Sony also plans to get out of the optical drive business.

When will we see these new devices? I don’t think Apple will take time away from a new iPhone/iOS 6 or smaller iPad event to talk all-in-one desktop refreshes. My best guess is the announcement will come via unceremonious press release with plenty of time ┬ábefore holiday shopping picks up.

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