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Apple updates G4 PowerBooks with Bluetooth 2.0

One last fling?

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Apple has applied the keenly awaited upgrade to its PowerBook G4 line, cutting prices and improving the specs - though sadly, but not surprisingly, minus the much-desired G5 processor.

The updated range sports a couple of new features, however. The bundled Bluetooth radio now runs version 2.0 of the wireless technology. Taking a lead from IBM, the notebook line's hard drives now feature an drop-protection system: in this case an acceleration detector that locks off the drive if sudden sharp motion is detected. The built-in trackpad now has a scrolling feature.

As yet the new machines' processors are not known, beyond the generic G4 classification. Previous models used the Freescale MPC7447A, clocked at up to 1.5GHz. It would be nice to think the new machines may use that chip's successor, the MPC7448, Freescale's first 90nm G4. However, Apple's specs point to 512KB of L2 cache, as per the 7447A, not the 7448's 1MB.

The new line-up starts with the 1.5GHz (up from 1.33GHz) 12.1in (1024 x 768) model, available with either a DVD/CD-RW drive or a DVD±RW unit, and 60GB or 80GB HDD, respectively. The base memory size is 512MB of 333MHz DDR, double the previous entry level, and graphics acceleration comes courtesy of Nvidia's GeForce Go 5200 with 64MB of dedicated DDR graphics RAM.

The 15in (1280 x 854) model is also available able Combo and Superdrive SKUs, the former with a 1.5GHz G4, the latter with a 1.67GHz chip. Both ship with 512MB of 333MHz DDR, an 80GB HDD and an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 64MB of DDR SDRAM, upgradeable to 128MB by build-to-order.

Unlike the 12in PowerBooks, the 15in and 17in models sport Gigabit Ethernet and 800MBps Firewire - the 12in model has a 400MBps Firewire port and 100Mbps Ethernet. All three models each sport a pair of USB 2.0 ports.

The 17in (1440 x 900) PowerBook runs off a 1.67GHz G4, and has 512MB of DDR, a 100GB HDD, and an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128MB of DDR SDRAM and dual-link DVI support. Like the 15in machine, it features an "enhanced" backlit keyboard.

The prices, running up the range of five standard models, are £1049/$1499, £1199/$1699, £1379/$1999, £1579/$2299 and £1849/$2699.

All five models go on sale "later this week", Apple said. ®

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