Apple's revised slimline lightweight 500MHz G3 iBook is "the first notebook custom made for the education market", said Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Apple's Cupertino HQ last night.

Announced on May Day, it's another shot in Jobs' campaign to bring aesthetics and ease-of-use into personal computing. It's designed to offer a symmetry of form, function and power – though not the power of Apple's professional-level PowerBook G4. The new iBook will ship by mid-May in four models, at prices starting from £1,099 (including VAT).

The new machine is lightweight, low-priced and fully featured. It sports a microphone hidden above the iBook's screen, and offers VGA (Video Mirroring). Its resolution has been enhanced, and the iBook's screen quality has also been raised.

Digital centre Apple's concentration on providing fully featured computers with an enhanced user-experience, has become integral to the company's strategy. Jobs said the iBook "will become the centre of the evolving digital lifestyle".

iBook's three basic models offer a choice of internal media players: CD-ROM; DVD-ROM; and CD-RW. A DVD-ROM/CD-RW model is also available as a build-to-order option from the Apple Store for £1,600 (including VAT).

Jobs said: "With iMovie, iTunes and iTools, the new iBook builds on the incredible success of the original iBook. It's designed to fit today's digital lifestyle."

Laptop drive He talked up the significance of Apple's decision to offer advanced notebooks. "Apple has enjoyed phenomenal sales of notebooks this year. A lot of these sales are due to the titanium PowerBook G4," he said. On the success of the original iBook, Jobs claimed: "iBook was the first notebook computer to have wireless as standard. We released it in September 1999, and sold over 700,000 in 18 months."

It weighs 4.9 pounds. At 1.3 inches it's 35 per cent thinner than its predecessor, and can handle up to 640MB of RAM. The device is encased in a white polycarbonate casing, reinforced by a metal chassis. iBook has no protruding parts or latches, and has a full-size keyboard. The bottom of this new portable Mac is rubberised for easy grip.

Clear cut Comparing iBook's thickness to that of a Dell notebook (which is two pounds heavier), Jobs said: "I don't think this could be more black and white – iBook is only 9.1-x-11.2-inches in size, not that much bigger than a piece of paper."

The iBook's screen resolution has been raised from 800-x-600 to 1,024-x-768 pixels on a 12.1-inch TFT XGA display – "That's 60 per cent more pixels," said Jobs. The screen quality has also been improved – so while there's a lot of pixels in the space, watching them shouldn't wear the eyes out, according to Apple.

Jobs said: "iBook now has the same number of pixels that a 14-inch notebook has – the same number of pixels as iMac in its highest resolution.

Processor power At the heart of iBook sits its 500MHz G3 processor, with 256K backside Level 2 cache. It ships with a minimum 10GB hard drive (with a 20GB option available) and stereo speakers. It offers VGA and composite video output, and the high-end models offer DVD.

Other features include two USB and one FireWire port, with an AGP 2x Rage Mobility 128 graphics card with 8MB of RAM. It's AirPort ready, and ships with a software bundle that includes Mac OS 9.1, iTunes, iMovie 2, AppleWorks 6, Internet Explorer, Cro-Mag Rally, Bugdom and Nanosaur.

It will be available in mid-May, from Apple resellers and the Apple Store, in three standard configurations.

The iBook with 64MB of RAM, a 10GB hard drive and CD-ROM drive will cost £1,099 (including VAT).

The iBook with 128MB of RAM, a 10GB hard drive, and a DVD-ROM drive will cost £1,299 (including VAT).

The iBook with 128MB of RAM, a 10GB hard drive and a CD-RW drive will cost £1,349 (including VAT).

The iBook will be marketed as "Your life. To go."