Proclaiming this "the year of the notebook," Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced two new Powerbooks and an Airport Extreme Base Station this morning at Macworld Expo in San Francisco:
17 inch Powerbook. Encased in "aircraft-grade aluminum" and built around the 17 inch, 1440 x 900 pixel screen from the iMac, the new Powerbook features a 1GHz G4 processor, 512MB DDR RAM, 60GB hard drive, CD/DVD-writing Superdrive, NVIDIA GeForce4 440 Go video/graphics w/64MB RAM, booting into OS X only, built-in 54Mbps Airport Extreme (802.11g) and Bluetooth wireless networking (the Airport antenna is in the screen bevel for better reception), Gigabit Ethernet, 1 FireWire 400 and 1 FireWire 800 port, two USB 1.1 ports (not the faster USB 2.0), PC Card slot, S-video and DVI output. The new laptop utilizes a lithium-ion prismatic battery for claimed 4.5 hour battery life, incorporates fibre-optic keyboard backlighting that engages automatically when ambient light dims and weighs 6.8 pounds. The 17 inch Powerbook is to ship in February at a base price of US$3299 in the US.
12 inch Powerbook. Built in the same aluminum alloy skin as its larger sibling, the iBook-like 12 inch Powerbook weighs in at 4.6 pounds and includes a 12.1-inch screen running at 1024 x 768. Features include a 867MHz G4 processor, 256MB DDR RAM (with a maximum of only 640MB RAM possible), 40GB hard drive, built-in CD writer (a CD/DVD-writing Superdrive is an extra-cost option), NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go video/graphics w/32MB RAM, booting into OS X only, a slot for a 54Mbps Airport Extreme (802.11g) module (though none is included in the standard model), integrated Bluetooth wireless networking, 10/100 Ethernet, FireWire 400, two USB 1.1 ports (not the faster USB 2.0), S-video and VGA output. Like the iBook, the 12 inch Powerbook lacks a PC Card slot. The new Powerbook is to ship in two weeks at base price of US$1799 in the US. Jobs' keynote included a video presentation featuring Annapolis, Maryland-based photographer and Blue Pixel co-founder Kevin Gilbert talking up the virtues of this laptop.
Airport Extreme Base Station. The primary change is faster wireless networking through support of the draft 802.11g standard, which operates at 54Mbps (real world throughput will be much slower, though noticeably faster than current 802.11b technology). The Airport Extreme Base Station is backwards-compatible with the original Airport and other 802.11b-based devices, includes network bridging and the ability to connect a USB printer to the base station's USB port and share it with wirelessly-connected users. Two models are available: a base model for US$199 in the US, and a second model that adds a built-in modem and external antenna port for US$249 in the US.
The Powerbook G4 Titanium continues unchanged, as does Apple's line of desktop Macs. None of the Macs saw a much-needed processor speed boost.
For additional coverage of Apple's MacWorld announcements, see MacCentral, Macintouch and MacNN.