Eclipsing last year’s PowerBook G3 with a smaller, lighter cousin to the
Titanium PowerBook G4, Apple today introduced a new line of iBook consumer laptops with a
1024 by 768 12.1-inch display, 500 MHz PowerPC G3 processor, and
the widest range of media drive options ever offered in an Apple product.
The new iBooks range in price from $1300 to $1800.
By offering a choice of four removable media drives in the new iBook,
Apple seems to be answering criticism that neither a DVD-ROM drive nor a
CD-RW drive can give everyone what they want. Users with simple needs
can opt for an inexpensive CD-ROM drive, but those who want more can
select a DVD-ROM drive to read both CDs and DVDs, a CD-RW drive to read
and write CDs, or a combo drive that reads CDs and DVDs and writes CDs.
Unsurprisingly absent from the lineup is a portable “SuperDrive,”
Apple’s high-end drive that reads and writes both CDs and DVDs,
currently available only in the top-of-the-line 733 MHz Power Mac G4
minitower. The combo drive isn’t cheap, but offers the best of both
worlds to those who’d like to watch DVD movies on the plane or access
large quantities of data on DVD discs, but would still like the ability
to burn CDs with music or data.
Visually, the new iBooks bear a striking resemblance to their bigger
cousin, the Titanium PowerBook G4, but weigh several ounces less and
offer a 12.1-inch 1024 by 768 display instead of the PowerBook’s
striking 15.2-inch 1152 by 768 widescreen display. The side panel of
connectors includes one FireWire and two USB ports, RGB video out with
an adapter, composite video and audio out through a single AV connector,
a 10/100Base-T Ethernet port, a built-in 56 Kbps modem, plus a built in
microphone and stereo speakers. The lithium-ion battery is rated at five
hours (comparable to the previous iBook models and the PowerBook G4) and
the new iBooks sport integrated antennas to support optional AirPort
Configurations will be available with 64 or 128 MB of RAM, and a 10 GB
hard drive upgradable to a 20 GB drive using Apple’s build-to-order
system. Apple says the new iBooks will be Mac OS X-ready, and while the
default 64 MB of RAM is not enough room for Mac OS X, the 1024 by 768
screen size is a realistic minimum. Apple says the new iBooks will be
readily available in late May.