Apple speeds up PowerBook, iBook

Apple Computer Inc. Tuesday made weeks of rumors official when it announced upgraded versions of its mobile computers, the high-end PowerBook G4 and the consumer-oriented iBook.

The new PowerBook G4 comes in two models, built around 550MHz and 667MHz PowerPC G4 processors. The speedier model offers a new system bus (the path by which data is routed around the motherboard) running at 133MHz, while the 550MHz system uses a 100MHz bus.

Upgrades to both models include a 4X AGP (accelerated graphic port) video system and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Each system comes with a slot-loading DVD (digital versatile disc), a 15.2 inch screen, a 56K-bps (bits per second) modem, USB (Universal Serial Bus) and FireWire ports and weighs 5.3 pounds. A slot-loading CD-RW (CD-rewritable) drive is available as an add-on, marking the first time a slot-loading CD-RW has been available for the PowerBook G4.

The 550MHz model comes standard with 128M bytes of RAM, a 20G-byte hard disk and an integrated antenna for Apple's AirPort 802.11b wireless Ethernet system. The 667MHz system offers 256M bytes of RAM, a 30G-byte hard disk and comes equipped with an AirPort card and antenna. Both systems can be expanded up to 1G bytes of RAM and can be customized with a 48G-byte hard disk. Each system comes preloaded with both MacOS 9.2.1 and MacOS X 10.1. The 550MHz model costs US$2,199 while the 667MHz model runs in at $2,999. Both are available immediately.

The new iBook line comes in three models, built around a 500MHz or 600MHz PowerPC G3 processor. All models offer a new 100MHz system bus and 128M bytes of RAM standard. The portables also include a 12.1 inch screen, an ATI Technologies Inc. Rage Mobility 128 Graphics chip with 8M bytes of RAM, a 56K-bps modem, on-board Ethernet, USB and Firewire ports and an integrated AirPort antenna (though the AirPort networking is not included). All systems are preloaded with MacOS 9.2.1 and MacOS X 10.1.

The low-end 500MHz model offers a 15G-byte hard disk and costs $1,299. The midrange 600MHz model comes with a 15G-byte hard disk and a DVD-ROM drive for $1,499. The high-end system, sporting a 20G-byte drive and a combination DVD-ROM and CD-RW drive, retails for $1,699. All models are available immediately.

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