Apple Offers Incremental PowerBook Upgrades

Apple's new PowerBooks boast G4 processors, improved features and reduced base prices.

Apple Computer Inc. quietly updated its line of PowerBook laptop computers on Monday. The three models, which range in size from 12 to 17 inches, now feature either 1.5 or 1.67 GHz processors, with bumps to the default RAM and hard-drive configurations, while base pricing has decreased.

Despite previous reports of development of a notebook-ready version of IBMs PowerPC 970 family, also known as the G5 that powers most of Apples line of desktop computers, these PowerBooks rely on G4 processors, built by Freescale Semiconductor Inc., previously the semiconductor division of Motorola Inc.

And despite rumors that had circulated on the Web, the new PowerBooks do not use Freescales dual-core G4 processors.

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read more about Freescale, click here.

Common to all the new models are faster 5400 rpm hard drives and a minimum of 512 MB rather than 256 MB of RAM. Apple representatives said that both items could increase overall performance of the computer. All of the models include AirPort Extreme 802.11g wireless networking.

In addition, the new PowerBooks all feature a trackpad that allows control of scrolling—users can drag two fingers up or down the trackpad to scroll within windows rather than move the cursor—and Sudden Motion Sensor technology, which automatically parks the hard drive heads when the PowerBook detects a quick change in direction, as when the unit is dropped.

The new 12-inch model features a 1.5 GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 512 MB of RAM, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical drive, a 64 MB Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 video card and a 60 GB hard drive. Connectivity options include mini-DVI out, analog audio, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, Bluetooth 2.0, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and AirPort Extreme wireless networking. The base model is $1,499; a 12-inch model with an 80 GB hard drive is $1,699. This represents a price drop of $100 compared to the previous base and expanded 12-inch models.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about PowerBooks.

The 15-inch model adds a FireWire 800 port, a 15-inch 1280x864 screen, a 64 MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 video card, a PC Card/CardBus slot, a backlit keyboard and S-video output. Options available for the 15-inch but not the 12-inch model include a SuperDrive (DVD+-RW/CD-RW) and a 128 MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 video card with dual-link DVI.

Pricing for the 15-inch PowerBook starts at $1,999 and moves to $2,299 with a 1.67 GHz processor. The faster unit sees a $200 price cut from the previous top-end 15-inch model.

The big brother of this family, the $2,699 17-inch PowerBook, boasts a 1440x900 screen, along with a base configuration that includes a 1.67 GHz processor, a 100 GB hard drive, and the 128 MB version of the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700, complete with dual-DVI output. This model also features digital audio capabilities. Previously, the 17-inch PowerBook retailed for $2,799.

All models come bundled with Apples iLife 05 digital creativity suite, though the productivity bundle iWork remains a separate purchase.

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