Just six weeks after the launch of its education-only eMac, Apple has done a marketing u-turn launching the product on to the wider consumer market.

But that's not the only change of heart this move represents as, like the old iMacs, the eMac is based around a CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor, which the company had consigned to history with the launch of the flat-panel iMac earlier this year. Apparently this move was forced by the high cost of flat-panel displays.

The eMac was originally launched on 29 April, but its release was limited to education customers. The reasons behind the decision to put it on sale to the general public are unclear; Apple's CEO Steve Jobs said it was a question of demand. Thanks to speedy production of the eMac Jobs says, "We'll have enough eMacs to satisfy both our education and non-education customers."

The extra demand for the eMac could be because prices start at just £808, which is over £250 cheaper than the low-end iMac.

There are three eMacs available in the consumer range — all have a 17in CRT screen; 700MHz G4 processor; 40GB hard drive; nVidia GeForce2 MX graphics card; built-in ethernet and modem; and CD-RW drive. The mid-range model, priced £935, has 256MB of RAM and a tilt-and-swivel stand, and the top-of-the-range eMac adds 512MB of RAM and an extended guarantee for £1,181.