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Just in time for holiday shopping, Apple released on Tuesday a new line of its entry-level iBook notebook computers. The latest version of the iBook line packs more processing power than its predecessors and comes with 801.11g wireless networking as a standard feature. But it’s slimmed-down price tag will no doubt appeal to its targeted education and consumer and customers.

While the new iBook line is aimed at consumers, the top-end iBook’s features now come close to those of the current 15-inch PowerBook that Apple considers part of its professional lineup. Priced at $1,499, the top-of-the-line iBook comes with a 1.33GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 14-inch LCD as well as Apple’s slot-loading “SuperDrive,” a combination CD-R and DVD-R drive—features once reserved for the PowerBook line.

The entry-level 12-inch iBook, which previously featured a 1Ghz processor, has been bumped up to a 1.2 GHz G4 processor.

Across the board, the new iBooks come pre-configured with Apple’s Airport Extreme wireless networking card. Additionally, they can be equipped with a built-in Bluetooth transceiver for an additional $49, allowing users to synchronize their computers’ address books with Bluetooth-enabled wireless phones.

No additional new notebooks are on tap for the remainder of the year, according to, Dave Russell, Apple’s senior director of portables and wireless.

“With the iBook announcements today, this is our notebook line going into the holidays,” he told “With the combination of the price point, and built-in wireless networking (of the new iBooks), we think we’ve got a great holiday lineup.”

That won’t do much to stop speculation about what happens just past the holidays. The improved iBooks are fueling speculation about an impending upgrade to Apple’s PowerBook notebook line. A portable version of the PowerPC G5 processor is anticipated early next year, however, upgraded G4 processor-based PowerBooks were widely expected to be announced before the G5’s arrival.

Click here to read about IBM’s plans to take the PowerPC G5 mobile.

Meanwhile, Apple’s price-cutting wasn’t limited to the iBook line. The company on Tuesday announced the immediate availability of a new, single-processor PowerMac G5 desktop system running a 1.8GHz CPU. The model is an “entry-level” version of the other three configurations with dual processors from 1.8GHz to 2.5GHz. The new single-processor model costs $1,499—$500 less than its siblings..

“This gives customers a more-affordable entry point [to the PowerMac line],” said Tom Boger, director of Apple’s worldwide product marketing.

Apple also updated its Xserve RAID storage system on Tuesday. Click here to read more.

In addition, Boger said that a new NVIDIA GeForce graphics card for the PowerMac would be available in November. The new card, he said, would provide “90 percent of the functionality of the NVIDIA Ultra card”—the current display adapter shipping with new PowerMacs—”for $100 less.” The new card will include the “dual-dual” digital video interface technology required to drive two of Apple’s 30-inch flat panel displays, currently supported only by the Ultra card.

Check out’s Macintosh Center for the latest news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise. And for insights on Macintosh coverage around the Web, check out Executive Editor Matthew Rothenberg’s Weblog.

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