Apple has expanded and upgraded its Mac mini range of small low-cost desktops from two to three models. At the same time, the company has beefed up iBook performance, while trimming the low-end portable computer range to just two models.
All Mac mini models, including the entry-level $949 1.25GHz model, now come with 512Mb RAM as standard. The two faster 1.4GHz models now feature built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking and Bluetooth. A 1.4Ghz Mac mini with a combo drive is $1135, the Superdrive (i.e. read and burn both DVDs and CDs) version is $1315.
On the portable front, the most important news is that Apple’s low-end portables now include scrolling trackpads and sudden motion detectors (which protect hard drives from damage if computers are dropped). Previously these features were only available on the more expensive PowerBook range.
Graphics have been upgraded and both models now come with 512Mb RAM as standard. Both models now also include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless networking.
Although Apple has managed to squeeze some additional speed out of its iBook range, it’s nothing exciting – the 14 inch model now clocks at 1.42Ghz, fractionally up from 1.33GHz. The 12 inch model still runs at the slower speed.
In recent months Apple has been winning new business around the world, possibly on the back of its success with the iPod music players. For example, the company is once more the fourth largest PC brand in the US after fading almost to oblivion.
However, the resurgence is largely based on desktop sales – if anything Apple’s position in the portable market is continuing to slide. Today’s iBook refresh is unlikely to arrest the decline. At best, it can minimise the damage while Apple works to develop a new portable product line using Intel technology.