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Apple revs notebooks: the last true Macs?

Speed bump, price cuts

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Apple has speed-bumped its PowerBook and iBook ranges, and although the more dramatic under-the-hood changes anticipated by the rumor sites haven't materialized, there are dramatic price cuts to the consumer line.

These are the last True Macs in a way, if you're sentimental. Future models starting next year won't boot the ancient MacOS, running older applications only in the OS X Classic environment, and good riddance many will say. But it's the end of an era and the start of a (probably short-lived) black market as designers rummage around for recent models that can still run Quark natively and allow them to use their existing peripherals.

(We're in the most hostile recession the publishing industry has suffered in twenty years - it really isn't a good time to browbeat these folks into buying new Macs and new peripherals, too. Doh!).

The refresh takes the Titanium to 1Ghz (and 867Mhz) and ensures that all Apple's models bar the low-end iBook model are capable of taking advantage of Quartz Extreme, thanks to the inclusion of the Mobility Radeon 7500. Quartz Extreme offloads the compositing onto the graphics processor, and ameliorates some of the inefficiencies of the highly advanced, but grossly over-engineered Quartz architecture.

Several sites suggested that Bluetooth would be integrated into the motherboard, but for this - and integrated 802.11 - we must wait. OS X supports the technology via a USB dongle right now, and the user reports are enthusiastic. Apple has clearly done a good job on the software side, and seems to appreciate the significance of the technology, especially when so few of the new generation of smartphones - run Microsoft software.

Last night the 700Mhz iBook was $1,249 (combo) and $1,199 (CD drive); now you can pick up a CD model for $999 and the new 800Mhz combo model debuts at $1,299. The 14" iBook is available with a 800Mhz processor at $1,599.

An 867Mhz Titanium Powerbook will set you back $2,299 and the 1Ghz version $2,799 or $2,999 if you opt for the new Superdrive (DVD-burning) model. The Superdrive is only available on the faster 1Ghz Powerbook.

Apple has retained the discounts on memory and flat panel screens, so it clearly wants to get this stagnant market moving. ®

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