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Panther preview confirms new PowerBooks?

Pinch o' salt time

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A tantalising glimpse of Apple's PowerBook plans has emerged courtesy of the preview release of Mac OS X 10.3, aka 'Panther', handed out to developers at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference.

According to a posting on MacRumours.com, Panther's version of the AppleMacRISC2PE kernel extension contains a plug-in called Portable2000_PlatformMonitor. Within contains a reference to future internal PowerBook model names.

Before proceeding, we should say that we haven't seen the Panther preview release ourselves, and the said plug-in is not a part of the Mac OS X 10.2 version of AppleMacRISC2PE.

Current PowerBook model numbers are PowerBook6,1 (the 12in model), PowerBook3,5 (15in) and PowerBook5,1 (17in). We've confirmed the former using out own 12in PowerBook.

The Panther preview also lists models PowerBook6,2, PowerBook5,2, PowerBook6,3 and PowerBook5,3, according to the MacRumours.com posting.

That suggests that Apple is preparing at least two new 12in PowerBooks and two new 17in models. Apple recently reduced the prices on both the 12in model and the ageing 15.2in version, which is based on an older system architecture than the 12in and 17in PowerBooks. As we've reported before, Apple is believed to have contracted Compal to produce a new, 15.4in PowerBook during the second half of the year, presumably to replace the Titanium 15.2in and bring it into line with the Aluminium 12in and 17in.

The snag is, we'd expect it to be featured in the alleged list of new models, probably as PowerBook7,x if Apple's classing it as a new model, or PowerBook3,3 if it's just viewed as a revision of the 15.2in model.

Possible scenarios for new 12in and 15in PowerBooks, include not only faster processors, but a 14in model to replicate the 14in iBook just as the 12in PowerBook is a souped up 12in iBook. The second 17in model might be the long-rumoured dual-processor version.

That's pure speculation on our part, we should add, working on the assumption that not only is the MacRumours.com poster genuine, but that the numbers listed in the kernel extension plug-in are real model numbers and not placeholders.

We've heard that Apple is no longer offering resellers Titanium PowerBook demo kit, but as yet we've not received confirmation of this. However, that plus comments from other channel sources provide circumstantial evidence that Apple is at least readying a 15in update. The Macworld-Creative Pro show is the most likely venue for an announcement in just two-and-a-bit weeks' time. ®

FYI

Apple's PowerBook model numbers go something like this. Curiously, while Apple System Profiler's internal strings refer to an iBook with model code PowerBook4,4, Apple's online documentation has no record of it. Can anyone shed light on this mystery?

Machine Model No.
PowerBook G3 PowerBook1,1
PowerBook G3 (FireWire)
Feb 2000
PowerBook3,1
PowerBook G4 (Titanium)
Jan 2001
PowerBook3,2
PowerBook G4 (Gigabit Ethernet)
October 2001
PowerBook3,3
PowerBook G4 (DVI)
April 2002
PowerBook3,4
PowerBook G4 (1GHz)
November 2002
PowerBook3,5
17in PowerBook
Jan 2003
PowerBook5,1
12in PowerBook
Jan 2003
PowerBook6,1
iBook
July 1999
PowerBook2,1
iBook (Firewire)
Sept 2000
PowerBook2,2
iBook (12in)
May 2001
PowerBook4,1
iBook
May 2002
PowerBook4,2
iBook
Nov 2002
PowerBook4,3
iBook
???
PowerBook4,4

Related Link

MacRumours.com: New PowerBook Model IDs?

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