Apple Buffs Up Laptops

The Mac maker unveiled upgrades to both its professional Titanium PowerBook and consumer iBook.

Just in time for the holidays, Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday added new trimmings to both sides of its portable line with enhancements to its professional Titanium PowerBook G4 and consumer iBook lines.

The new PowerBook reaches the 1GHz mark at the high end and features a slot-loading SuperDrive for burning CDs and DVDs as well as an ATI Radeon 9000 graphics card. Meanwhile, the consumer iBook got a $200 price cut and a 100MHz speed boost across the board.

At the top of the line, Apple now offers a $2,999 PowerBook G4 that packs a 1GHz PowerPC G4 with 1MB DDR Level 3 cache RAM; a SuperDrive; an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 card with 64MB of DDR video memory; 512MB of SDRAM; a 60GB hard drive; and a card for AirPort, Apples 802.11-based wireless connectivity technology.

A $2,299 model includes an 867MHz PowerPC G4; a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive; an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 card with 32MB of DDR video memory; 256MB of SDRAM; and a 40GB hard drive.

Like previous models, the new PowerBooks feature a 15.2-inch LCD screen and Gigabit Ethernet; they measure 1 inch thick and weigh 5.4 pounds.

An external Bluetooth adapter is available as an option for both new models; however, Bluetooth wireless connectivity is not built into the new models, contrary to some rumors in circulation before the announcement. Apple also exceeded the predictions of several Mac sites that suggested todays new PowerBooks would lack a SuperDrive.

The previous top-of-the-line PowerBook, introduced in April for $3,199, included an 800MHz G4 chip, a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive and an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics processor with 32MB of DDR video memory.

On the consumer side of the equation, Apple announced three new iBook models that closely match the configurations predicted by the Mac Web.

A $1,599, top-of-the-line model features an 800MHz PowerPC G3 chip, a 14.1-inch screen, an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics card with 32MB of video memory, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, and a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive. A $1,299, 800MHz version includes a 12.1-inch display and 128MB of RAM. A $999, 700MHz configuration packs 16MB of video memory, a 20GB hard drive and a CD-ROM drive.

The systems range from 4.9 to 5.9 pounds, include Fast Ethernet, and can be outfitted with AirPort and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

Previous versions of the iBook, which was last upgraded in May, ranged from $1,199 to $1,799 and 600MHz to 700MHz.