Reports on Cnetnews.com suggest that Apple will unveil new Power Mac desktops with faster chips and restyled PowerBook laptops at Macworld Expo and Conference to be held in San Francisco from January 9-12.

According to the Cnetnews.com rumour, the company will introduce four new Power Mac models, including a new top-of-the-line computer with a 733MHz G4 processor - the fastest Macintosh computer to date - and three other Power Macs with chips running at 466MHz to 666MHz.

These computers will also feature a system bus that runs at 133MHz rather than at 100MHz. The bus serves as the data conduit between the processor and memory - the faster the bus, the better the performance.

Industry watchers have queried the validity of the Cnetnews.com report because it states that Apple will abandon its multiprocessing Power Macs – which are regarded as essential for users of Apple's forthcoming modern operating system, Mac OS X. in the past, Apple has been known to float false rumours in order to root-out employees or partners who are leaking stories to the press.

Mercury rising Apple will also unveil the long-anticipated G4 PowerBook, code-named "Mercury", according to the report. The report says that Apple is planning new PowerBooks with G4 processors. To make the new PowerBooks lighter and sleeker than existing models, Apple will abandon the removable bays that allow Mac owners to add an extra drive, according to Cnetnews.

The rumours also state that Apple will integrate a slot-loading DVD drive into the new PowerBook, and add a lithium polymer battery.

According to the report, Apple is planning to show off combo DVD/CD-rewritable drives on new Mac models which were not in new Macs introduced in July.

Following its policy, Apple refused to comment on upcoming products.

Macworld Expo San Francisco 2001 starts on Tuesday January 9. Macworld will, of course, be there in force to bring you all the news as it happens – from new Macs at Steve Jobs' keynote to product launches and industry announcements. Go to www.macworld.co.uk/sf2001 for all the latest developments.