) --


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set Friday as the day for the debut of the new 21.5-inch iMac. Friday.

The 21.5-inch iMac will be available through Apple's retail stores, certain resellers and the tech giant's online store, according to a statement released before market open Tuesday. A new 27-inch iMac will be available for order through the Apple online store and will begin shipping in December, it added.

There had been chatter in the blogosphere that the new iMacs could be delayed as a result of production issues, although Apple had previously discussed November and December launches, respectively, for the products.

The new iMacs were among a slew of products


at Apple's iPad Mini event last month, and use


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i5 chip, along with


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graphics chip.

Another new feature is the Fusion Drive, a combination flash and hard drive, which offers the speed of a high-performance flash drive and the storage size of a traditional hard drive. Speaking at the launch event, Apple's senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, said that the technology "learns" which applications consumers use the most, and optimizes them in either the flash or storage component of the Drive.

The new iMacs are just 5 millimeters thick, 80% thinner than previous versions of the product, and were described by


Chris Ciaccia as "a stunning feat of engineering and computing prowess" at the launch event.

Apple shares were off 1.5% at $580.68 by mid-morning on Tuesday.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

Follow @jamesjrogers

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