iBook demonstration at expo draws cheers from Mac lovers

July 26, 1999|By Julio Ojeda-Zapata | Julio Ojeda-Zapata,Knight Ridder / Tribune

The iMac, Apple Computer's hot-selling desktop Macintosh for consumers, now has a portable counterpart nicknamed "iMac to go."

Apple has unveiled its long-awaited consumer laptop, dubbed iBook, which combines iMac-like color schemes such as "blueberry" and "tangerine" with innovative features such as wireless-networking capabilities.

The $1,599 iBook, due for release in September, completes Apple's plan to create desktop and laptop computers for consumers and professionals. The iMac fills the mainstream-desktop category while the Power Macintosh G3 and PowerBook G3 laptop are higher-priced products aimed at professionals.

The iBook drew cheers from the Macintosh users who gathered last week to hear Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs' keynote address at the Macworld Expo computer show in New York.

Jobs demonstrated Apple's latest products, which include a wireless-networking technology called AirPort. Aimed initially at iBook users, the system consists of a $299 base station and a $99 laptop add-in card. Up to 10 AirPort-equipped iBook users will have wire-free access to the Internet via a single UFO-like station, even while working 150 feet away.

With AirPort, also due in September, Apple is making an aggressive play for an education market that had long been a Macintosh mainstay until Windows-based PCs eroded its market share. Educators at Macworld called it a boon for students and teachers who need easy-to-install classroom networking.

"Just give this to kids and watch them take off with it," said Bill Bruns, a Philadelphia-area middle-school teacher.

Apple says third-party hardware developers will eventually release AirPort upgrade cards for the company's more expensive PowerBooks.

The iBook drew nearly unqualified praise from Macworld attendees.

"If [the iBook] happened to be lighter, I'd run right out and buy it," said William Reynolds, a Home Box Office computer manager, who wants Apple to release an ultralight portable to complement the heftier iBook and PowerBooks.

The 6.7-pound iBook will have a 300-megahertz G3 processor, a 3.2-gigabyte hard drive, 32 megabytes of random-access memory, a 56K modem and a 12.1-inch TFT display. The device has rounded, rubberized edges and a handle for easy carrying. The battery will last up to six hours without recharging, Jobs said.

Pub Date: 07/26/99

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