Apple Computer last week took the wraps off minor updates to two affordable segments of its Macintosh product lines, speeding up and improving the iBook portable line while (finally!) doubling the default RAM installed in Mac minis.
Improvements to the iBooks aren't just limited to processor speeds - which have been boosted to PowerPC G4s running at 1.33 GHz in the 12-inch model and 1.42 GHz in the 14-inch model - but extend to a higher-performance ATI Mobility Radeon graphics controller, built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth wireless technology, and the scrolling trackpad and Sudden Motion Sensor technologies which originally appeared in the PowerBook G4 line. Prices start at $1,000 for a 12-inch iBook with 512 MB RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, and 512 MB of RAM; prices for the 14-inch model start at $1,300. A variety of build-to-order options are available for iBooks, including larger hard drives, more pre-installed RAM (although we usually recommend purchasing RAM through less-costly sources than Apple), and, for the 14-inch model, slot-loading SuperDrives. iBooks still sport two USB 2.0 ports and a single FireWire 400 port, along with 10/100Base-T Ethernet; iBooks ship with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and Apple's iLife '05 application suite pre-installed.
Apple's also cranked up the default RAM installation across its Mac mini product line, with 512 MB of RAM now being the new standard with no change in Mac mini pricing, which still starts at $500. The top two Mac mini models - at $600 and $700 - now include AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth wireless connectivity by default, and the most-tricked-out Mac mini offers a slot-loading SuperDrive. Mac minis also ship with Tiger and iLife '05 pre-installed.