Jobs unveils biggest, smallest PowerBooks ever

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Calling 2003 the "year of the notebook," Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled 17-inch and 12-inch PowerBook G4s during his Macworld Conference & Expo keynote.

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"We introduced the Titanium PowerBook two years ago, and it became the best notebook in the industry," Jobs said. "It was the number one lust object. No one has caught up with it in two years. I don't know what they'll do now."

The Apple CEO said that in 2000, laptops comprised 20 percent of all Macs shipped. Last year that figure was 32 percent and Apple expects it to hit 35 percent this year. Jobs said that he felt that laptops would eventually make up 50 percent of the company's CPU sales.

The 17-inch PowerBook G4 is the world's first notebook computer with a 17-inch display, the largest ever in a notebook, according to Jobs. It's encased in an aluminum alloy enclosure that's tougher and more scratch resistant than previous models.

The new PowerBook measures only 1-inch thin and weighs just 6.8 pounds. It's also the first notebook to offer built-in AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g wireless networking, new high-speed FireWire 800, a backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors, and built-in Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting to cell phones and other Bluetooth equipped peripherals.

The 17-inch screen displays 1440-by-900 pixels in a widescreen 16:10 aspect ratio. It sports a 1GHz PowerPC G4 processor, new high-speed architecture, Nvidia graphics, and a slot-loading SuperDrive for playing and burning CDs and DVDs. What's more, it includes the world's first fiber-optic backlit keyboard, as well as ambient light sensors that control the brightness of the display and automatically regulate the keyboard backlighting.

In low light, the 17-inch PowerBook G4 automatically illuminates the backlit keyboard and lowers the display brightness to reduce eye strain and extend battery life. As light levels increase, the display brightness is re-adjusted automatically and the keyboard backlighting is turned off. Jobs described the new PB as the best wireless notebook every, as it comes with both AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth wireless networking built in.

The 17-inch PowerBook G4 includes two powered FireWire ports, one FireWire 400 port, and one FireWire 800 port. And, it continues to be the only notebook to offer built-in Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BASE-T).

It boasts 1MB of level 3 cache and 512MB of Double Data Rate (DDR) memory running at 333 MHz. It comes with the Nvidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics processor and 64MB of dedicated video memory capable of delivering 880 million textured pixels per second and advanced transform and lighting.

The 17-incher is expected to be available in February through the Apple Store, at Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of US$3,299. Additional build-to-order options include the ability to upgrade to up to 1GB of DDR RAM. The AirPort Extreme Base Station and the AppleCare Protection Plan are also available for the new 17-inch PowerBook G4 for an additional price.

The new 12-inch PowerBook G4 has a 12-inch, active-matrix display housed in a lightweight, durable aluminum alloy enclosure weighing just 4.6 pounds. It comes with a 867 MHz PowerPC G4 processor, Nvidia graphics, a standard slot-loading Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive, and built-in Bluetooth for US$1,799.

The screen has a 1024-by-768 pixel resolution. The 12-inch PowerBook measures just over 1-inch thin and has a 867 MHz PowerPC G4 processor with Velocity Engine and offers 256MB of fast Double Data Rate (DDR) memory (expandable to 640MB) and a Nvidia GeForce4 420 Go graphics processor with 32MB of dedicated DDR RAM. You can also build-to-order a 12-inch PowerBook G4 with a slot-loading SuperDrive for playing and burning both CDs and DVDs.

Like its big brother, the smaller PB includes built-in antennas and a card slot to support AirPort Extreme. You can get an AirPort Extreme card for US$99.

This story, "Jobs unveils biggest, smallest PowerBooks ever" was originally published by PCWorld.

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