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  9-19-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

 

What Apple's Been Up to Lately...

 


By Bob LeVitus

If you haven't been following Apple news closely you've probably missed a lot of new product announcements. Over the past couple of weeks, Apple has introduced a plethora of new and updated products including a new 15-inch PowerBook model, faster 12 and 17 inch PowerBooks, faster iMacs, higher-capacity iPods, and a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The biggest news had to be the introduction of a new batch of PowerBook notebook computers earlier this week at the world famous Apple Expo in Paris, France. As you may recall, Apple introduced 12 and 17-inch aluminum PowerBook models earlier this year, but the 15 inch model was not updated at that time. The Mac community has spent the months since that introduction speculating when we might finally see aluminum 15-inchers and Steve Jobs gave the answer in Paris on Tuesday.

The new 15-inch aluminum PowerBook G4 incorporates most of the nifty new PowerBook features introduced with the 17-inch PowerBook in January—backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors (unfortunately, optional on the lower-priced system), FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and Gigabit Ethernet, plus support for AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth (both optional), and trades the old titanium case for a sleek new aluminum enclosure. Other changes include a larger (512KB) on-chip level 2 cache (but no level 3 cache); an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 video subsystem with 64MB of DDR VRAM; bigger hard drives (up to 80GB); and support for up to 2GB of RAM (up from 1GB in previous model).

The 15-inch PowerBook is available in two configurations, with 1.0Ghz or 1.25Ghz G4 processors, priced at $1,999 and $2,599 respectively.

The 17-inch PowerBook received a speed bump to 1.33Ghz, and a $300 price reduction to $2,999.

The 12-inch PowerBook received a speed bump to 1.0Ghz and built-in support for Apple flat-screen displays, with prices starting at $1,599.

But wait! There's more! Apple also introduced the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Wireless Mouse, new Bluetooth-based input devices said to provide reliable performance at up to 30 feet with secure 128-bit, over-the-air encryption and Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) software that eliminates interference between Bluetooth devices and other wireless networks and devices. Both feature advanced power management that automatically switches to low power modes during inactivity and can also be turned off when not in use.

Those were the two big announcements from Paris, but that's not all the news from Apple. Last week they announced new 20GB and 40GB models of the best-selling iPod digital music player. The new 40GB iPod can hold up to 10,000 songs (that's roughly a month of non-stop listening), but is lighter and thinner than two audio CDs. The 10GB model remains priced at $299; the new 20GB model is $399; and the new 40GB model is $499.

Also last week, Apple announced a new batch of iMacs, with faster PowerPC G4 processors running at 1.0 GHz in the 15-inch model and 1.25 GHz in the 17-inch model. Both include 256MB of faster DDR SDRAM running at 333 MHz and an 80GB hard disk. The 17-inch model, priced from $1,799, sports a beefed-up NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics processor with 64MB of DDR video memory; the 15-inch iMac, priced from $1,299, retains the NVIDIA GeForce4 MX graphics processor with 32MB video memory.

Last but not least, if you purchase any new Macintosh computer together with Apple's Keynote presentation software before December 27, 2003, you'll receive an instant $50 rebate. Details are at www.apple.com/promo.

If you're in the market for a new Mac (or your first Mac), you've never had more or better choices than you have today.

Apple Computer. Cupertino, California. www.apple.com
Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to doctormac@boblevitus.com.

Copyright © 2004 Bob LeVitus

 
   


 


 

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