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A third Intel-powered Mac, the pint-sized Mini, and a portable sound system for iPods are apparently what passes for fun on Apple's campus these days.

CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday took the wraps off two Mac Minis based, respectively, on Intel Core Solo and Duo chips, said to be four times faster than their predecessors, plus a sound system that docks iPods and plays iTunes. Jobs said it "re-invents" the home stereo.

apple ipod hi-fi

The home stereo re-invented? After years of either relying on tiny speakers or beaming iTunes across the room to the Bang & Olufsen in the corner, Jobs called the iPod Hi-Fi the first iPod accessory that adds true high-fidelity sound. So "thanks" to all those partners who've been busy churning out iPod speaker accessories on Apple's behalf.

The iPod Hi-Fi features two custom-designed, wide-range speakers and a tuned, ported bass system that Apple said maximizes the quality of the sound. There is also the ability to run off either the mains or six D batterie. The unit is priced at $349 in the US, £249 in the UK.

But back to the computer stuff.

Jobs announced two Intel-based Mac Minis - one with a single-core chip and one with a dual-core CPU - featuring a raft of Apple software. The news means Apple has moved half its entire product line to Intel, off of IBM's PowerPC platform, in a record 60 days, according to the company.

The MacBook Pro and iMac were already committed to Intel Core Duo, even if there were some questions over Apple's ability to hit production capacity. As Reg Hardware reported earlier this month, quite a few buyers' MacBook Pros are not now expected until March, having been promised by Jobs in February.

Apple's new Core Solo 1.5GHz Mac mini is priced at $599/£449, and features 512MB of 667MHz DDR 2 SDRAM and a 60GB hard disk. A 1.66GHz Core Duo Mac mini is priced at $799/£599 and includes 80GB of storage and a SuperDrive to burn CDs and DVDs. Software includes Apple's iLife 06 and Front Row software. Apple's bundling its iPod Shuffle-like Remote Control.

Jobs unveiled the duo at a carefully orchestrated press event on Apple's Cupertino campus, initiated with a tease of an invitation sent last week. Apple's invitation, which apparently failed to find it's way to Register Towers, had beckoned the curious to: "Come see some fun, new products from Apple." ®

apple intel-based mac mini

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