Each new iBook model has begged the question: "Should I buy a PowerBook or an iBook?" The PowerBook line has been the professional workhorse, with more slots and options than the education- and consumer-directed iBook. But the iBook hasn't trailed far behind in speed and basic features, making it appealing to people who don't need the fastest processor and features such as a PC Card slot. Last week, Apple nudged the specifications of the latest iBook configuration closer to the current PowerBook lineup, forcing potential Mac laptop buyers to reevaluate the question.
At the same time, Apple also reintroduced a single-processor Power Mac G5 configuration and added more storage to its top Xserve RAID configuration.
New iBook G4 -- The new iBooks bump up a variety of system specifications, but the most notable feature is the inclusion of AirPort Extreme cards in all models, not just the top-end one. Previously, adding the card to the AirPort-capable models was an $80 add-on. All models also support an optional internal Bluetooth module for $50.
The entry-level 12-inch model now starts at $1,000, a $100 price cut from the previous low-end configuration. It includes a 1.2 GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 256 MB of RAM, and a 30 GB hard drive. Two 14-inch models, priced at $1,300 and $1,500, come with 1.33 GHz PowerPC G4 processors, 256 MB of RAM, and 60 GB hard drives. The higher-priced model includes a SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW), while the other models include Combo Drives (DVD/CD-RW). They also come pre-installed with iLife '04.
Single-Processor Power Mac G5 -- Apple must have heard the word: having the cheapest entry-level Power Mac priced at $2,000 was restricting the market. The company has added a single-processor 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5 to its lineup, priced at $1,500. The primary difference between it and the dual-1.8 GHz model (aside from the lack of the second procossor, of course) is a 600 MHz frontside bus, compared to the dual model's 900 MHz frontside bus. This shouldn't mean much for performance given the single processor disadvantage.
A Bigger Can of Xserve RAID -- Just in case you need to store a few billion more photos, Apple has bumped the Xserve RAID storage unit's top configuration from 3.5 terabytes (a terabyte is 1,024 GB; or approximately 1 trillion bytes) to 5.6 TB. The cost for this large configuration is $13,000.