Apple has delivered a small but important refresh to its iBook line of budget notebooks, doubling the amount of standard RAM to 512MB, offering slightly faster processors, and doing away with the previously most expensive configuration. With the updated specs, the new iBooks are priced at AU$1,599 and AU$2,049 and offer an even more attractive alternative to Apple's higher-end and considerably more expensive PowerBook line.
Upside: The least-expensive iBook, the 12.1-inch model, now comes with a 1.33GHz G4 processor; 512MB of 333MHz DDR RAM (it can now accommodate up to 1.5GB); an ATI Mobility Radeon 9550 graphics processor with 32MB of its own memory; a 40GB 4,200rpm hard drive; and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, which can burn and play CDs and play DVDs. Also onboard are two USB 2.0 ports, one four-pin, unpowered FireWire port, and a host of video-related outputs including VGA, S-Video, and composite. For networking, you get a 56Kbps modem, Ethernet, 802.11g wireless connectivity, and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, which is rare in such a low-price notebook. Also new to the iBook line is Apple's Sudden Motion Sensor, which protects the hard drive if you drop the notebook. Perhaps best of all, you get Apple's terrific software package, including Mac OS X Tiger and iLife '05.
Downside: We're lighting a candle for the wide-screen iBook.
Outlook: Now that Apple's bumped the baseline RAM to 512MB, we feel a lot better about the iBook line. At AU$1,599, the 12.1-inch model is a steal, with good specs, above-average networking and connectivity, and a terrific software package.