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New iBooks Close the Power Gap

Apple today introduced new iBook models at the Apple Expo 2000 in Paris. The new entry-level iBook, available in Indigo (to match July’s most popular iMac color) and a new Key Lime color for $1,500, offers a 366 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64 MB of RAM, and a 10 GB hard disk. For $1,800, the iBook Special Edition, available in Graphite or Key Lime, leaps to 466 MHz and replaces the CD-ROM drive with a DVD-ROM drive with DVD-Video capability. Both models add a FireWire port and composite video output through a new AV port, and upgrades to 128 MB of RAM and a 20 GB hard disk are optional. As before, all of the iBooks include a 10/100Base-T Ethernet port, a 56K modem, and, with the addition of a $100 AirPort card, compatibility with Apple’s AirPort wireless networking technology.

Apple’s new AV port provides composite video out and left and right audio connectors through a provided cable. The same AV port doubles as a headphone jack, into which you can connect standard stereo headphones. The AV port can output video to a TV, VCR, or video projector, and thereby fills one of the most-mentioned failings of the original iBook, especially in the academic and corporate sectors where a laptop that can’t be hooked to a projector for a presentation is nearly useless.

The FireWire port and bundled iMovie 2 software combine to let Apple tout the new iBook as another entry in its digital movie studio lineup, preferably with the 20 GB hard disk.

These new iBook models significantly close the gap with the PowerBook G3, whose smaller and lighter form factor offers slightly more performance and expandability, a PC Card slot, an additional FireWire port, and a notably larger LCD display in return for much higher prices ranging from $2,500 to $4,000. Significant changes to the PowerBook line would now seem inevitable at January’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

The Indigo and Graphite models are available immediately through Apple’s resellers and the online Apple Store, but the Key Lime models are available exclusively through the Apple Store.

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