Is Apple readying slick new iMac models?

Pundits and veteran hacks expect Apple to refresh the iMac and slash prices

Apple is hosting a press event in Cupertino tonight - and rumours suggest that it's the iMac, rather than the iPod or iPhone, that will be in the spotlight.

Technology blogs and websites are buzzing with anticipation, even though hard facts are scarce. Apple has an enviable track record when it comes to keeping the lid tight on product launches. Instead, we can only speculate. A Mac-related launch is a given tonight - Apple has said as much. But there might be more.

Technology gossip

Guardian Unlimited suggests that tonight's event is not one of "those big fancy pants product launches" and "so far all we really know is that it's definitely a Mac product, not an iPod or iPhone announcement"

But what sort of Mac? A new Mac Mini? A new Apple TV? An even thinner iMac? An even smaller MacBook? A MacBook 'tablet' with an iPhone-style touchscreen? You could speculate for hours (and people do).

ThinkSecret jumps in with two feet and claims that "Apple will deliver three new iMac configurations", dropping the prices to make them more affordable. It also suggests that Apple will eliminate its 17-inch model from the existing iMac range.

Rumours of new iMacs have been circulating for some time, with most pundits arguing that Apple might launch a brushed metal version to bring it into line with its Mac Pro desktops.

Little else is known about the new models other than they will feature a radical new design, and maybe feature razor-thin metal keyboards that echo the keyboard design used on MacBook laptops. Engadget has possibly the first picture of such a keyboard here .

Giving .Mac a kick

Wired reckons that Steve Jobs should refresh the .Mac services bundle too, boosting the storage space, improving the back-up, tweaking iCal and so on. also expects some .Mac action, recently pointing out that: "Apple's .Mac site [warned] users that the .Mac service will be undergoing maintenance on August 7th." - the day of the press launch.

Wispier rumours swirl around new versions of iLife and iWork, but these may well be held over until the launch of the Leopard OS.

Of course, tonight's announcement might just be a simple, unexciting product line refresh. Nothing more, nothing less. Apple UK normally mirrors events in the US by inviting the the UK press to a closed live broadcast of important US events in London.

Not this time, though. And it's this lack of worldwide action that's telling. Despite all the rumours, Apple might not be up to anything revolutionary this time.