I’ve been remiss in not reporting this information more promptly, but caution has its uses. Apple introduced the PowerBook 145 at Macworld as expected, and equally as expected, it sports two features over the old 140 – a 25 MHz 68030 and a lower list price, both of which should endear it to users now that Apple has it slotted to become the low-end PowerBook. Look for greatly reduced prices on the PowerBook 100s at dealers since Apple dropped it from the official price lists. The PowerBook 100 has no surfeit of power, but the sales success at Price Club shows that people do have interest in such a PowerBook, but only at a sub-$1000 price. Personally I’d like to see the 100 stick around at prices well under $1000 and with the clear recognition that it trades muscle for price. A $700 PowerBook 100 would sell well, although I wonder if Apple might want to open that price bracket for the upcoming Newton devices.
Snazzy PowerBooks — In any case, on October 19th the new PowerBooks will either look like the current PowerBooks or will be part of a docking system, as requested by those using the PowerBook as a primary machine. The additions to the standard line will include the PowerBook 160 and 180, both of which will support up to 14 MB of RAM, have LCD screens that can display 16 shades of grey (backlit supertwist for the 160 and active matrix for the 180), and debut a video-out port that can do 8-bit color on a 13" screen (160) or a 16" screen (180). Both will connect to desktop Macs as SCSI hard disks, as could the 100. Otherwise, the 160 will share specs with the 145, and the 180 will feature the same features as the to-be-discontinued 170, though with the addition of a 33 MHz 68030.
I find the new PowerBook Duo design more intriguing, because the base machine will weigh about four pounds, support up to 24 MB of RAM, have a 9" 640 x 480 backlit supertwist LCD screen, and use either a 33 MHz (the 230) or 25 MHz 68030 (the 210). Apple will have two types of docks, the Duo Dock and the Duo MiniDock, available separately depending on your most common usage. For use on the desktop, Apple will have the Duo Dock, which will include two NuBus slots, an extra hard drive, a floppy drive, an 8-bit video-out port for use with monitors up to 16", and the usual ports. Those using the PowerBook Duo primarily on the road will prefer the one pound Duo MiniDock, which will provide only the standard ports and the same video-out capabilities. We don’t know how Apple will distribute the PowerBook Duos in terms of price and bundles with the two docks, so stay tuned.
The Duos feature an interesting security feature that may or may not be of use to you. Both docks can lock the PowerBook to the dock, which makes it easy to use a third party security kit from Kensington, Security Concepts, or the like to secure the combination to your desk. The drawback I see is that I doubt you will be able to use a locking device with the PowerBook while on the road because it would interfere with the floppy-drive-like mechanism that the dock uses to suck the PowerBook Duo in and lock it down. One final new feature on the 210 and 230 – Apple recessed the trackball area, which should make it even easier to use. I’m drooling already, but do keep in mind the cardinal rule of computers: If you need the computer today, buy it today because today’s model will be cheaper and faster in six months no matter what.
I’m still trying to figure out Apple’s new strategy with the IIvi and IIvx and the entire Performa line, so I’ll try to talk about that next week after I’ve had some peace and quiet to think.
MacWEEK — 10-Aug-92, Vol. 6, #29, pg. 1