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New iBooks Close the Power Gap

At last week’s Apple Expo 2000 in Paris, Apple introduced new iBook models sporting digital video features, plus two new case colors. 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 plus 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 some 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 (though the small 800 x 600 screen size may prove extremely limiting with iMovie 2). 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 aging PowerBook line would now seem all the more likely in the near future.

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. Apple is once again treading a fine line here with its dealers, who may be miffed that they can’t sell the Key Lime iBooks, especially after the recent strategies Apple has used to eliminate service from the dealers’ repertoires. Our recent article on Apple’s new service policies drew a few clarifications and significant ire from numerous TidBITS readers, along with suggestions for some favorite service shops.



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Roomier PowerBooks — Interestingly, the day after unveiling the new iBook line, Apple announced that the PowerBook G3 line would receive larger hard disks. Effective immediately, Apple says the PowerBook G3/400 now ships with a 10 GB hard disk instead of 6 GB, and the PowerBook G3/500 now features a 20 GB hard disk instead of 12 GB. The $2,500 and $3,500 base prices for the respective models don’t change. Using the Apple Store’s Build to Order feature, either PowerBook model may be outfitted with a 10 GB, 20 GB, or 30 GB hard disk, with a $300 price difference for each step.


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