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Faster Desktops, PowerBook G4 Titanium Highlight Macworld Keynote

At his keynote at this week’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs rolled out faster, single-processor desktop Power Macintosh G4 units, plus a brand new, svelte G4 PowerBook with a titanium casing.

Apple’s new Power Macintosh G4s feature processor speeds of 466, 533, 667, and 733 MHz. Due to limited availability of high speed processors, these systems sport only a single G4 processor, although a dual-processor build-to-order option will be available for 533 MHz systems. The new systems feature a 133 MHz system bus, a faster PCI architecture and a fourth PCI slot – which, when combined with the 4x AGP slot for a graphics card, Apple is now touting as a “5 slot” system. The units include iMovie and Apple’s new iTunes, a 10 watt digital amplifier (Apple also plans to sell speakers for about $60), gigabit Ethernet, USB and FireWire ports, optional AirPort wireless networking, and an NVIDIA GeForce2 MX video card with 32 MB of SDRAM (although 16 MB ATI RADEON cards will be available as an option.) All the units sport CD-RW drives, except for the high-end 733 MHz model which will offer a new “SuperDrive,” co-developed with Pioneer, which can read and write to both CD-R and DVDs, enabling users to create DVD disks which can be used in consumer DVD players (and which will ship with Apple’s new iDVD; see below). The 466 and 533 MHz models should be available shortly; the 667 and 733 MHz versions should be shipping in limited quantities in February; prices will range from $1,700 to $3,500.

At the end of his keynote, Jobs also took the wraps off the new PowerBook G4 Titanium, which is the first PowerBook to sport a G4 processor (at 400 or 500 MHz) and a 15.2-inch screen with a maximum 1,152 by 768 pixel display area (that’s a 3:2 "widescreen" aspect ratio; it will also support a more-standard 1,024 by 768 resolution). The new laptops also offer a slot-loading DVD drive, two USB ports, a FireWire port, and 10/100Base-T Ethernet, a 56 Kbps modem, optional Airport wireless networking, an IrDA port, and one PC Card and CardBus slot. The new PowerBook also provides VGA and S-video output, and ATI Rage 128 Mobility graphics controller, either 128 or 256 MB of RAM (expandable to 1 GB), a 100 MHz system bus, 10 or 20 GB drives (30 GB drives available as a build-to-order option), and Apple claims the unit has a battery life of up to five hours. Perhaps more impressive – and certainly more noticeable – is the systems design and case: it’s bright, lightweight titanium measuring 13.4 inches across, 9.5 inches deep, a scant one inch in height (a tad thinner than the popular Sony Vaio Z505), and weighing only 5.3 pounds with the battery installed. And Apple even changed the logo on the case so it’s right-side up when other people see you using such a nifty device – or when it gets a cameo on television. The PowerBook G4 Titanium should be available in limited quantities in January, with prices starting at $2,500.

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