Apple Powers up Pair

To keep up with the relentless price cutting by its Wintel competitors, Apple Computer improved the value of its iBook Mac Mini with new models.

Now sporting a faster Power PC G4 processor running up to 1.42 GHz, the new iBooks come with 512MB memory across the line. Previously, some models of iBook and Mac Mini shipped with only 256MB of memory, but 512MB is now the baseline standard across both lines.

The iBook also includes Apple’s “scrolling TrackPad” designed to make it easier to scroll through long Web pages or pan across large photographs. The 12- and 14-inch iBooks offer improved performance over earlier models, with either a 1.33GHz or 1.42GHz PowerPC G4 processor and up to six hours of battery life.

The Mac Mini continues to be Apple’s lowest-cost Mac with price ranges between $499 and $699.

Wireless connectivity comes standard on the $599 model, which includes Apple’s Airport Extreme (for 54Mbps 802.11g wireless networking) and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. For $699, the Mac Mini comes with a SuperDrive, which lets users burn DVDs.

Apple was partly able to break new price points with the Mac Mini by making the keyboard, mouse and display optional equipment. The sleek unit is just two inches tall and weighs only 2.9 pounds.

“With double the memory and new features like built-in wireless networking and DVD burning, the new Mac mini delivers an even greater value in an innovative compact design,” said David Moody, Apple’s vice president of worldwide Macintosh product marketing, in a statement.

The Mac Mini line includes one FireWire 400 and two USB 2.0 ports and a DVI interface that also supports VGA to connect to a variety of LCD or CRT displays, as well as built-in 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet for networking.

The iBooks and Mac Mini are equipped with OS X Tiger, the latest operating system, as well as the Spotlight desktop search technology, which is designed to let users easily find anything stored on their Macs, including documents, e-mails, contacts and images.

The new models also include Dashboard for instant access to various information sources, such as weather forecasts and stock quotes, as well as iLife ’05 — which contains iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and GarageBand — as well as Apple’s iTunes music application.

Last month Apple announced plans to move away from IBM’s PowerPC processor to Intel chips. New systems based on Intel processors aren’t expected until next year.

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