Apple Speed Bumps Laptops; Lowers PowerBook Pricing

Apple Computer has upgraded its entire line of iBook and PowerBook laptop Macs with a jump in speed on its high-end PowerBook to 1.5 GHz from a 1.33 GHz Power PC G4, the company announced Monday.

The primary differences between the new and previous models is an increase in processor speeds, AirPort Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g now standard on all models, a 4x instead of older 2x SuperDrive, a change in the high-end PowerBook models to the faster ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor and a jump from a 40GB hard drive to a 60GB model in both of the 12-inch PowerBook units.

Apple did not add any additional configurations to either laptop family - five models of PowerBooks and three models of iBooks. All the models are available immediately, the company said.

PowerBook boosts

The entire line of PowerBooks has been updated, the company said.

Both the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4 now offer up to a 1.5 GHz PowerPC G4 processor and the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor. In previous models, the high-end models came with either the Radeon 9600 Pro or NVIDIA GeForce FX Go 5200. For customers who want the highest graphics performance, the 1.5 GHz 15-inch model and 17-inch PowerBook can now be custom configured with up to 128MB of graphics memory for $50 more.

The 17-inch, 1.5 GHz PowerBook will retail for US$2,799 and the 15-inch, 1.5 GHz PowerBook unit will go for $2,499. The new prices reflect a $200 and $100 price drop from older models, respectively.

A 15-inch PowerBook model with a 1.33 GHz G4 processor is also available, but with a Combo drive, 256MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM, the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor and a 60GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive for $1,999.

New low-end, 12-inch PowerBook models come with a 1.33 GHz G4 processor, NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 graphics processor and a 60GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive. One model comes with a SuperDrive for $1,799 and the other comes with a Combo drive for $1,599.

New to the 12-inch PBs is an increase in main memory to 333MHz from 266MHz. Apple confirmed to The Mac Observer that the two new models have a faster, 167MHz system bus, up from 133MHz.

iBook boosts

The company also announced updates to its prosumer line of iBook models, bumping G4 processor speeds from 1GHz to 1.2 GHz and moved the entire iBook line over the 1.0 GHz threshold for the first time.

Other than faster G4 processors, the new models can now hold up to twice as much DDR memory (1.25GB maximum) as previous models and now feature 512KB of on-die L2 cache, up from 256KB. The graphics processor on the new iBook models was not upgraded and remains as the ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics with 32MB of dedicated DDR memory.

In a positive step, Apple will now offer an optional 4x DVD-burning SuperDrive on the 14-inch iBook model only, for an additional $200.

The 1.2 GHz, 14-inch G4 iBook model comes with a Combo drive, 256MB of DDR SDRAM and a 60GB hard drive for $1,499. The mid-range model, the 14-inch, 1.0 GHz G4 iBook, comes with a Combo drive, 256MB of DDR SDRAM and a 40GB hard drive for $1,299.

Rounding out the line, is the 12-inch, 1.0 GHz G4 iBook model with a Combo drive, 256MB of DDR SDRAM and a 30GB hard drive for $1,299.