Apple updates PowerBooks

There's still no sign of the long-awaited PowerBook G5, but Apple fans can console themselves with the G4's new features

Apple has lifted the lid on the latest range of G4 PowerBooks on Monday. They incorporate faster drives and a slew of new technologies, but there is still no sign of the much-rumoured G5 version.

The new PowerBooks include what Apple dubs its "sudden motion sensor" technology, which will protect a spinning hard drive from damage if the notebook is dropped while in use.

"In the event of a drop or fall, the Sudden Motion Sensor instantly parks the hard drive heads so they won’t scratch the disks on impact, lessening the risk of damage and improving your chances of retrieving valuable data. When the Sudden Motion Sensor senses your PowerBook is once again level, it unlocks the hard drive heads automatically," explained Apple. The technology was made public in a patent application before Christmas; IBM has included a similar feature in ThinkPad notebooks since late 2003, although Apple submitted a patent somewhat earlier.

The new PowerBooks also include a feature called TrackPad -- which lets a user scroll quickly through a long Web page or a large photo by placing two fingers on the notebook's touch-sensitive motion pad -- well as support for Bluetooth 2.0.

The 17-inch PowerBook contains a 1.67GHz G4 processor, a 100GB hard drive, 512MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM -- expandable to 2GB -- and an eight-speed SuperDrive that can read and write almost all types DVDs and CDs. It is priced at £1,849.

The 15-inch model can be bought with a 1.67GHz or a 1.5GHz G4 chip, an 80GB or 100GB hard drive and 512MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM -- expandable to 2GB. The 1.67GHz model comes with the 8x SuperDrive, and starts at £1,379.

The entry-level 12-inch model includes a 1.5GHz G4 chip, a 60GB hard drive -- with optional upgrades to 80GB or 100GB -- and 512MB RAM. Pricing begins at £1,049.

All prices are inclusive of VAT.

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