New iMacs: Is Apple using draft 802.11n wireless technology already?

Computers, Wi-Fi

There are some interesting discussions around the Web at the moment which suggest that Apple may already be adopting the draft 802.11n wireless specification in its latest line of Apple iMac computers.

We’ve already reported the coming “iTV” from Apple next year, and speculated that it will contain the 802.11n next generation wireless specification, but it could be that the latest iMacs are setting the trend.

Reports suggest that when the iMac is booted up into a pre-release version of Vista, the wireless card is reported as being a “Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter” This is possibly the same solution Dell and Acer were reported to be installing on their notebooks back in July.

It’s all a little shady at present, based on supposedly authentic screenshots posted on a forum, but it’s not entirely implausible either. I’m not about to open up my iMac and take a look at the card that OS X still registers as an Airport Extreme card, and (even if I had access to it) I’m certainly not going to boot up a pre-release Windows Vista on my machine to prove it. However, it could fit well with Apple’s living room plans.

Apple aficionados are saying that, whilst Steve Jobs didn’t give any details away, the forthcoming iTV will utilise the high-speed 802.11n so as to make wireless streaming of high-def movies a possibility. What better way to keep the Apple branding going than to say that the latest iMacs can already stream that 802.11n.

That would also minimise the risk of the pre-802.11n being superseded and incompatible with the final version affecting Apple’s plans, though of course they’d reach a wider audience if more PCs with the standard 802.11n wireless technology could get on board. The trouble is, though, that 802.11n keeps being delayed, and the iTV will surely be released before the standard is ratified. Whether the cards can then have their firmware upgraded is another matter. Apple could also boast that their iTV technology will work seamlessly with other vendors ‘wireless home’ offerings.

Whatever the situation, having 802.11n wi-fi in the new iMacs is fairly useless at present. If the cards are present, it’ll probably show up in the next release of Mac OS X, also due for release early next year. It could prove to be an exciting start to 2007 for Apple fans.

What do you think?

Andy Merrett
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