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Apple unwraps long-awaited iBook, PowerBook upgrades

PowerMac line finally makes it to 500MHz, too.

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs this morning announced all the new much-anticipated new kit he'd been expected to unveil back at last month's MacWorld Expo in San Francisco but somehow managed not to. Taking up his now well-established role as public speaker, Jobs used his keynote at MacWorld Expo Tokyo to revamp both of Apple's portable lines, the consumer-oriented iBook and the higher-end PowerBook. And he was finally able to announce that Apple has brought the desktop PowerMac G4 line up to speed with an across-the-range megahertz boost that puts each machine back to where they were when Jobs unveiled the G4 family last August. So, the iBook line has been extended with a rather nifty looking Special Edition model that brings an iMac DV Special Edition graphite coloured case, a 366MHz PowerPC 750 (aka G3) CPU (up from the regular iBooks' 300MHz chip) to the table, all for an extra $200. The blue and orange iBooks continue to retail for $1599, but now include 64MB of RAM and a 6GB hard drive, as does the Special Edition model. The new PowerBook family is essentially an upgrade, simply speed-bumping the previous line, adding a couple of FireWire ports and integrating support for Apple's now across-the-range plug-in AirPort wireless networking technology -- all crammed into the existing model's bronze slimline case. The speed bumps take the baseline PowerBook clock speed to 400MHz and tops it off with a 500MHz version. Both ship with 1MB of L2 cache. The portable's new motherboard adds 100MHz system bus, finally drops SCSI in favour of FireWire, and brings 2x AGP graphics to the line, with a built-in 8MB ATI Rage Mobility 128 chipset. The new PowerBooks feature 64MB of RAM (128MB on the top 500MHz model), 6GB hard drive (12GB or 18GB on the 500MHz machines) and 6x DVD-ROM drives as standard. The PowerMac G4 speed bump takes three models in the line up 50MHz to 400MHz, 450MHz and -- at long last -- 500MHz. All three models -- and, indeed, the new PowerBooks and iBooks -- are said to be immediately available through Apple resellers and its own online AppleStore. However, in the UK at least, there's a 25-day wait on the new kit, suggesting the volumes aren't quite there yet. And with Motorola's 500MHz PowerPC 7440 (aka G4) believed to be still not quite up to spec., there could well be delays on shipments of the top-end PowerMac. ®

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