Apple Bumps Up Power Mac Line

The Power Mac G4 now offers two 1.42-GHz PowerPC chips and enhanced FireWire and 802.11g; the company also added a 20-inch LCD panel.

With little fanfare, Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday raised the roof on its professional desktop line, bringing it to 1.42GHz and folding in some of the networking enhancements it debuted this month on its professional PowerBooks.

Meanwhile, the Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker took the wraps off a new 20-inch LCD display and cut costs on its other flat panels.

The new top-of-the-line Power Mac G4, slated to ship next month for $2,699, features dual 1.42-GHz PowerPC G4 processors, a FireWire 800 port and support for 802.11g wireless connectivity. FireWire 800 and 802.11g are both built into the 17-inch PowerBook that Apple unveiled at Januarys Macworld Expo/San Francisco.

The current line now starts at $1,499 for a single-processor, 1-GHz model; a dual-processor, 1.25-GHz model (the previous high end of the Power Mac line) is now priced at $1,999.

Before the changes, the Power Mac lineup started at 867 MHz; the entry-level, midrange and high-end configurations were priced at $1,699, $2,499 and $3,299, respectively.

All the Power Mac configurations come bundled with iLife, Apples revamped suite of consumer-friendly multimedia applications: iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD.

The companys new 20-inch Apple Cinema Display, available now for $1,299, includes a wide-format, active-matrix LCD with a resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels. Meanwhile, it cut the price of its 23-inch, 1,920-by-1,200-pixel Cinema HD Display from $3,499 to $1,999 and reduced its 17-inch, 1,280-by-1,024-pixel Studio Display from $999 to $699.

The new models and prices, along with the recently unveiled PowerBooks, suggest that an LCD supply pinch is easing for Apple. Since declaring LCD displays the future of its line with the debut of the flat-panel iMac in January 2002, Apple has shared the PC industrys challenges in getting flat panels in sufficient, affordable quantities. The dearth of LCDs apparently helped prompt Apples decision to offer its CRT-based, all-in-one eMac system to consumers as well as its original education market.

Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of hardware product marketing, said the company has made it a priority to work with suppliers to ease the LCD crunch; he said Apple currently has "no supply problems whatsoever" with the flat panels. Joswiak credited the price cut on the 23-inch screen on its popularity, especially with publishing and multimedia professionals, a market he said Apple is also pursuing with the 20-inch model.

Sebastian Rupley, PC Magazine, contributed to this report.