Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
Apple today surprised the world by introducing two PowerBook models a full week earlier than had been expected (see TidBITS #174). The new models mark the low and the high end, with a budget-priced PowerBook 145B and an active-matrix-color PowerBook 180c.
As we described in past issues (TidBITS #167, #168, and #174), even though we had the name wrong early on, the PowerBook 180c is an active-matrix color version of the PowerBook 180. The active matrix LCD panel on the 180c stands out dramatically when viewed next to a 165c (Apple's previous color offering) and lives up to the expectations of brighter images and wider viewing angles. In addition, the 180c's display is a 640 x 480 pixel unit, making it 80 pixels taller than the displays on previous PowerBooks. The 180c comes in three configurations ranging in price from $4,159 to $4,769.
The cost-conscious crowd will prefer the PowerBook 145B, a lower-price ($1,649-$1,899 retail - watch those street prices!) version of the PowerBook 145. This reduces the entry-level price for a PowerBook by about 25 percent, thanks to economizing measures taken by Apple's engineers and marketing folks. As we reported in TidBITS #174, the 145B ships without system disks (which can be requested from Apple should they be needed) and without a microphone (though the sound input port is there, and you can add a microphone). The engineers also crammed 4 MB onto the logic board instead of the previous 2 MB, so the standard 4 MB version no longer requires them to ship a 2 MB expansion card in each unit.
We're not sure we like the idea of a Macintosh shipping without system disks, but that has been the case with the Performas for almost a year, and apparently it works for most users. Since the vast majority of purchasers will never request a set of system disks, Apple will undoubtedly save quite a bit of money, thereby making the low purchase price of the 145B possible.
More news for PowerBook owners -- Apple today introduced PowerBook File Assistant, a collection of features (sort of a little cousin for Connectix PowerBook Utilities) that includes file synchronization, deferred printing, and backlight dimming, among other things. The software will ship later this summer for $79. We'll have more information on PowerBook File Assistant once we've seen it.
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