New iBooks Got DV

Today, Apple added moviemaking to the list of what its consumer portables can do -- but under-$2,000 PC notebooks can't -- when it added a FireWire port, iMovie 2, and a more generous 10GB hard disk standard across the iBook line, which now starts at just $1,499.

The company also made its new iBook Special Edition truly special with the addition of a 466MHz G3 processor and a 6x DVD-ROM drive. And, it's still selling for just $1,799. This effectively closes the gap on functionality (while widening it on price) with Apple's high-end PowerBook line.

The new iBooks come in three colors -- the richer, darker indigo for the standard model; graphite for the Special Edition; and key lime, a bright green color available on both models, but only if you buy through the Apple Store.

And, gamers take note, Apple has boosted the on-board graphics to the AGP2x-based ATI Rage 128 mobility chip set with 8MB of SDRAM versus the previous models' anemic 4MB. This should make the iBook a worthy portable for gaming, while a new composite video-out port will make it an inexpensive mobile presentation machine. The ability to connect these iBook models to a TV set should be an especially useful feature for education customers.

Things that haven't changed: the iBook still features a 12.1-inch active matrix display capable of displaying up to 800 by 600 pixels, compared to the PowerBook's 14-inch display with a maximum resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels; it still weighs in at 6.6 pounds (6.8 with the addition of a DVD drive to the special edition); and offers one USB port, one 10/100BaseT Ethernet port, and a built-in 56K modem. While the iBook Special Edition is now within spitting distance of the high-end PowerBook in terms of raw CPU performance, both iBook models offer only 256K Level-2 cache and a 66-MHz memory bus, versus the PowerBook line's 1MB L2 cache and 100-MHz memory bus. Both iBooks continue to come standard with 64MB of RAM, expandable to 320MB.

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