Apple Upgrades PowerBook, Lowers Pricing

By | February 1, 2005

Apple Computers announced this week that it will be making an incremental upgrade to its PowerBook line. Its processors will now run at 1.67GHz, up from 1.5GHz, it will come with 512MB of RAM as standard, a slightly faster graphics card and faster hard drives. In addition, 802.11g wireless networking will be standard, and – perhaps most exciting – is that Apple will be including two new technologies: a scrolling TrackPad and the Sudden Motion Sensor.

The TrackPad is new to Apple users, though familiar to many PC-based laptop users. For Apple users, it involves using 2 fingers on the touchpad in order to scroll, pan and work to move a document around. This has been standard on PC-laptops for several years, though early tests show that Apple’s “2 finger” approach may make it easier than the PC-style “touch the edges” solution.

“The new TrackPad looks just like the old one, but it works differently,” says David Moody, Apple´s vice president of worldwide Mac product marketing. “If you touch two fingers to the pad when you reach the edge of the window, it will scroll horizontally or pan vertically within the window.”

The Sudden Motion Sensor is designed to help the PowerBook’s internal hard drive determine if the notebook has been dropped.

“Our system senses if the PowerBook has been dropped and parks the disk drive´s heads and locks them before the PowerBook hits the floor,” says David Russell, Apple´s senior director of portables and wireless.

“This system is unique to the PowerBook itself–it´s built in to the motherboard.” As a result, Apple isn´t dependent on any specific hard drive manufacturer, Russell says.

What´s more, all 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks feature backlit keyboards that are now up to 10 times brighter than previous models. “We´re using a whole new technology to illuminate the bottom side of the keyboard,” says Russell. “The benefit here is that the keyboard lighting works more effectively in lower light conditions. Also, it´s a different method of illumination. The difference in battery life with the new system is negligible.”

In addition, a reasonable and welcome price drop has been given to PowerBook users.

“Most PowerBook configurations are now $100 to $200 less than before,” says Moody. Apple will make the new PowerBooks available later this week through The Apple Store and through Apple´s retail stores and authorized resellers.

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