Apple Overhauls its Portables

By Sebastian Rupley  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

Speeds have increased, and 802.11g wireless networking is now standard for PowerBooks.

Apple Computer announced Monday that it has overhauled its line of PowerBook and iBook portable computers, increasing speeds and preloading the Apple iLife 04 suite of software applications. All new PowerBooks, which represent the high end of Apples portable line (iBooks are aimed at the consumer and education markets), now come with Airport Extreme 802.11g networking installed. The new PowerBooks and iBooks are all available immediately, except for updated 17-inch PowerBooks, which are slated to ship in early May.

"Last year at the Macworld show we declared 2003 the year of the notebook, and were pushing forward with portables," said Greg Joswiak, vice president of hardware product marketing at Apple. "Notebooks have represented 48 percent of overall Apple sales the last two quarters."

Apple has five percent of the U.S. notebook market, according to the IDC market research firm. "Theyre particularly strong in the education market," said Roger Kay, an IDC analyst. Apples sales of portables for higher education customers—both institutional and individual—were up 50 percent last quarter, according to the company.

Apples 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4 notebooks now offer up to 1.5-GHz PowerPC G4 processors, and come with the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor. The fastest previous processors for those models were 1.33 GHz. The 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks can also be configured with up to 128MB of graphics memory. The 12-inch PowerBooks now offer 1.33-GHz processors, bumped up from a previous 1-GHz ceiling. In addition to integrated Airport Extreme wireless technology, the PowerBooks also ship with Bluetooth wireless technology.

In standard configurations, the 1.33-GHz 12-inch PowerBook G4 sells for $1,599, with a 60GB hard drive and 256MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM. The 1.5-GHz 15-inch PowerBook G4 sells for $2,499 with a 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive, 512MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM, and an 80GB hard drive; a $1,999 version is available with a 1.33-GHz processor, 256 MB of memory, and a 60GB hard drive, and without the SuperDrive. The 1.5GHz 17-inch PowerBook G4 sells for $2,799 with a 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive, 512MB of memory, and an 80GB hard drive.

The entry-level iBook from Apple previously had an 800-MHz G4 processor; it now moves up to a ceiling of 1.2-GHz, with an optional DVD-burning SuperDrive. A 1.0-GHz G4 iBook sells for $1,099 with a 12.1-inch display, a 30GB hard drive, and 256MB of memory. Another version, with a 40GB hard drive and a 14.1-inch display, sells for $1,299. The new 1.2-GHz iBook sells for $1,499 with a 14.1-inch display, a 60GB hard drive, and 256MB of memory.

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