Apple Bumps iBook Speed to 1.33GHz; AirPort Extreme Built-In to All (UPDATE)

Apple Computer increased processor speeds, lowered the entry-level price to US$999 and added Airport Extreme wireless capability standard Tuesday on its consumer-level iBook laptops.

Still sticking to three models, the iBook line increased PowerPC G4 processor speeds from 1.0 gigahertz (GHz) on its base model to 1.2GHz, from 1.0GHz to 1.33GHz on its mid-range laptop, and up to 1.33GHz from 1.2GHz on its top-level model with SuperDrive.

In addition, all models are now being shipped with AirPort Extreme built-in. Previously, the 14-inch iBook (photo below) with 60GB hard drive was the only model with AirPort Extreme as standard equipment. The adoption of wireless access cards in all iBook models is a clear sign Apple sees wireless networking and Internet access as a feature the majority of its customers are asking for and need with the increased growth of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the world.

The entry-level model is identical to the previous iteration, except for an AirPort Extreme card standard and the increased processor speed. What is different is the price - $100 cheaper at $999.

The mid-range model was previously equipped with a 40GB hard drive, but now comes with a 60GB HD for the same price of $1,299, with the addition of the AirPort Extreme card.

The top-end model changes from a Combo drive to a SuperDrive for the same price of $1499. No other features have changed, except for the G4 processor speed increase.

The main features of the three models are:

iBook 12-inch with 1.2GHz PowerPC G4
256MB DDR266 SDRAM
30GB Ultra ATA hard drive
Combo Drive
Airport Extreme
512K L2 cache @ 1GHz
$999

iBook 14-inch with 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
256MB DDR266 SDRAM
60GB Ultra ATA hard drive
Combo Drive
Airport Extreme
512K L2 cache
$1299

iBook 14-inch 1.33GHz PowerPC G4
256MB DDR266 SDRAM
60GB Ultra ATA hard drive
SuperDrive
Airport Extreme
512K L2 Cache
$1499

Other features of the new models remain the same from previous models. The iBook line was last updated in April 2004.

The company released the new laptops less than week after delivering its fiscal fourth-quarter results. During the quarter, Apple reported shipping 238,000 iBooks, down from 240,000 in the year-ago period.

All three new iBook models are available immediately from retailers, catalog houses, and various online vendors, the company said.

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