Apple updates PowerBooks and iBooks

Following up on five major product announcements at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas on Sunday, Apple Computer Inc. on Monday announced upgrades to its entire line of portable computing products. Apple's pro PowerBook models have been bumped to a top speed of 1.5GHz, while the consumer iBook now reaches speeds of 1.2GHz.

"The year of the notebook didn't end in December, it's still going," Greg Joswiak, Apple's Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing, told MacCentral.

New PowerBooks

AirPort Extreme wireless networking and an internal Bluetooth module are now included standard with all PowerBook models. On the 15-inch and 17-inch models, graphics performance has been improved with the inclusion of ATI's Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor; 128MB of VRAM is also available as a custom configuration.

"We've always tried to focus on having good graphics engines. Creative Pro customers demand high graphics performance," said Joswiak of the new graphics chips.

The new 12-inch PowerBook G4 model has been bumped up to 1.33GHz, and has seen its VRAM increased from 32 to 64MB. A larger 60GB drive is now standard issue, as well. It's available in Combo Drive and SuperDrive versions for US$1,599 and $1,799 respectively.

The 15-inch PowerBook G4 is available in a 1.33GHz version equipped with a Combo Drive for US$1,999. The 1.5GHz model comes with a 4x SuperDrive for $2,499. The 17-inch PowerBook G4 is available with a 1.5GHz processor and 4x SuperDrive for $2,799.

New iBooks

The 12-inch and base 14-inch iBook G4 models now both run at 1.0GHz. Each model includes 256MB DDR SDRAM expandable to 1.25GB, two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400, VGA video out, 10/100baseT Ethernet, and slot-loading Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) drives. The 12-inch model comes equipped with a 30GB hard drive while the 14-inch gets a 40GB hard drive. Like their predecessors, they come with a slot for an AirPort Extreme wireless networking card and can be ordered with an internal Bluetooth module. They cost $1,099 and $1,299 respectively.

The 14-inch model is also available with a 1.2GHz processor, 60GB hard drive and included AirPort Extreme card. What's more, for the first time on the iBook line, the 14-inch model can be custom-ordered with a 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive. It's priced at $1,499.

"All of these things together make the iBook the perfect computer as the hub of the digital lifestyle," said Joswiak. "We are always trying to make the value better -- we're doing really well here and we're not going to let up."

Compared to previous versions

Apple's previous 12-, 15-, and 17-inch PowerBook models came in five configurations. At the low-end, the 12-inch PowerBook featured a 1GHz PowerPC G4; 512K L2 cache; 256MB DDR266 SDRAM; 40GB Ultra ATA/100; NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5200 (32MB DDR); 10/100BASE-T Ethernet; FireWire 400; AirPort Extreme Ready; Mini-DVI out; and a Combo Drive. The higher-end 12-inch model had all of the same features except it included a DVD burning SuperDrive. The 12-inch models were priced at $1,599 and 1,799 respectively.

The 15-inch PowerBook had a 1GHz PowerPC G4; 512K L2 cache; 256MB DDR333 SDRAM; 60GB Ultra ATA/100 ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 (64MB DDR); Gigabit Ethernet; FireWire 400 & 800; AirPort Extreme Ready; DVI & S-Video out; and a Combo Drive. As with the 12-inch model, the 15-inch PowerBook came in a high-end configuration that featured a DVD burning SuperDrive, as well as a 1.25GHz processor, 512MB RAM and a 60GB hard drive. The 15-inch models were priced at $1,999 and $2,599 respectively.

The high-end 17-inch PowerBook came equipped with a 1.33GHz PowerPC G4; 512K L2 cache; 512MB DDR333 SDRAM; 80GB Ultra ATA/100; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 (64MB DDR); Backlit Keyboard; Gigabit Ethernet FireWire 400 & 800; AirPort Extreme built-in; DVI & S-Video out' and a DVD burning SuperDrive. The 17-inch PowerBook sold for $2,999.

Apple's previous 12- and 14-inch iBook G4 models came in three configurations. All units sported a slot-loading Combo drive and 256MB DDR SDRAM and Radeon 9200 graphics with 32MB VRAM (the graphics system remains unchanged in the new models).

At the low-end, the 12-inch iBook sported an 800MHz processor and 30GB hard disk; the 14-inch models were available at 933MHz with a 40GB drive and 1.0GHz with a 60GB hard drive. Prices remain unchanged from the previous models.

This story was updated with iBook specifications and comments from Greg Joswiak.

This story, "Apple updates PowerBooks and iBooks" was originally published by PCWorld.

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