At Apple Expo in Paris today, Steve Jobs at long last unveiled the long-awaited update to the Titanium PowerBook G4. The new aluminum-clad 15-inch PowerBook G4 offers a choice of a 1 GHz or 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4 processor (both with 512K of on-chip level 2 cache), Combo drive (CD-RW/DVD-ROM) or SuperDrive (CD-RW/DVD-R), 60 GB or 80 GB hard drive, and an AirPort Extreme card (hopefully with better range than the abysmal Titanium PowerBook G4). Also optional for $70 is the neat backlit keyboard technology from the 17-inch PowerBook. Standard features include a 15.2 inch LCD display running at 1280 by 854, 56K V.92 modem, Bluetooth support, the ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM, built-in stereo speakers with a midrange-enhancing third speaker, keyboard, trackpad, and a 46 watt battery that provides up to 4.5 hours of battery life (the 15-inch PowerBooks use the same 65 watt power adapter as the 17-inch PowerBook, not the 45 watt adapter used by the 12-inch PowerBook). Ports include one PC Card/CardBus slot, built-in 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet, one FireWire 400 port, one FireWire 800 port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, DVI video output port (with an included DVI-to-VGA adapter), S-video output port (with an included S-video-to-composite adapter), audio line in, and a headphone jack. All this comes in a 5.6 pound (2.5 kg) package 1.1 inches (2.8 cm) high, 13.7 inches (34.8 cm) wide, 9.5 inches (24.1 cm) deep, putting it smack between the 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks in size and weight. Available today, a stripped-down model costs $2,000; the loaded model comes in at $2,700.
Obviously, there’s no telling why Apple chose to keep the Titanium PowerBook G4 in its lame duck position in the PowerBook lineup for nine long months after introducing the 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks, but we expect the release of the 15-inch PowerBook G4 to spur laptop sales. For many people, the 12-inch PowerBook was just too small and underpowered, whereas the 17-inch PowerBook was just too large and expensive. Much as Mama Bear’s oatmeal, chair, and bed were just right for Goldilocks, the 15-inch PowerBook should meet the needs of many Mac users, thanks to its large display, excellent performance, and complete set of features at prices starting $1,000 below the 17-inch PowerBook.