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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
Monday, 01/31/05 by Chuck Brown, Assoc. Editor

Apple Lowers Prices, PowerBook Gets A Little 1.67GHz Bump and more.

Today Apple announced by press release that the Macintosh G4 PowerBook line will see a drop in prices across the board. "Most PowerBook configurations are now $100 to $200 less than before," said David Moody Apple's Vice-President of worldwide Mac product marketing.

The PowerBook G4/1.5GHz with 12.1-inch LCD, 512MB RAM, 60GB hard drive, and DVD-CDRW combo drive costs $1,499; with a larger 80GB hard drive and SuperDrive, will cost $1,699. For 15.2-inch PowerBooks, the G4/1.5GHz model with a DVD-CDRW combo drive costs $1,999, while the G4/1.67GHz model, with SuperDrive, costs $2,299. Finally, the PowerBook G4/1.67GHz with 17-inch LCD, 100GB hard drive, SuperDrive, and Dual Link DVI costs $2,699. (Dual Link DVI can be used to power Apple's 30-inch LCD monitor.) All models feature integrated AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0.

Standard now, after starving the PowerBook line for years with undersized RAM, slow Hard Disk Drives and DVD Burners, all will be equipped with a single module 512MB of RAM, faster HDD’s and a 8x SuperDrive. Maximum RAM is now 2GB in the 15-inch and 17-inch while the 12-inch models keep their one SO-DIMM slot configuration with memory upgrades available to 1.25GB.

The top of the line 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks gets a minor 1.67GHz processor speed bump from the previous 1.5GHz, but still no sight of a much rumored “dual core” G4 processor from Motorola that might provide as much as 1.8GHz to 2.0GHz.

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Also standard in all models are Broadcom 802.11g 54Mbps Wireless Networking and Bluetooth 2.0 for wireless ancillary devices like mice, keyboards and wireless communications devices. The backlighted keyboards on 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks have been improved with up to 10 times the brightness of previous models.

The 17-inch PowerBook model will now feature “Dual Link” support through its “Digital Visual Interface” (DVI) monitor connector, to support Apple's 30-inch Cinema HD Display. On special order costing $100, this is also available on the 15-inch PowerBook and will include a boost of the VRAM to 128MB’s.

A new feature is the “Sudden Motion Sensor” technology, which is designed to help protect the PowerBook's internal hard drive with a tri-axis accelerometer that determines if the notebook is accidentally dropped. We guess the huge dent in the soft Aluminum case won’t tip the PowerBook owner off?

Probable the best new feature is the vertical and horizontal scrolling “Two Finger” TrackPad, which still looks the same but functions like many track pad found on PC notebooks for years. I our review last year of the 15.2 G4 PowerBook, we called on Apple to adopt this much needed “step into the present” that has been lacking in the their portable line. We’re glad to see they finally listened.

Lastly, the 17-inch PowerBook get a combined optical digital input/audio line-in mini-jack, similar to the one included on Apple's AirPort Express wireless networking hub. This allows you to connect to either an optical digital or analog audio source with a single port jack.

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