Apple has today announced new G4-powered iBooks equipped with 12-inch and 14-inch screens.

Apple has bucked an industry trend on price – the entry-level iBook G4 costs £849 (including VAT), while the previously available entry-level G3 product came in at £799. The increasingly competitive notebook industry has seen manufacturers cut prices in recent months.

The new iBooks offer AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth, and all models ship with 256MB of DDR memory and slot-load Combo drives for burning CDs and watching DVDs. All models will ship with Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther).

Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller said: "2003 is the 'year of the notebook' and Apple has the industry's best notebook line-up, which has resulted in Apple's mix of notebooks growing to double the industry average.

"The new iBooks bring powerful G4 processors and slot-load Combo drives into the most affordably priced G4 notebooks ever, just in time for the holiday season."

Down with G3 Apple's consumer portable sales fell 28 per cent worldwide in the last quarter, "cannibalized" by better sales of the company's 12-inch G4 PowerBooks. Apple sold 137,000 units in the quarter – down from the 190,000 units it shipped in the previous quarter, following its last upgrade to the product family.

To restore sales, Apple has re-engineered its consumer notebooks to support G4 processors and DDR memory, which it says furnish better speed, efficiency and system performance.

Apple has upgraded the built-in graphics card as well, from the ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 to the current ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics card with 32MB of dedicated DDR memory and AGP 4X.

The new iBook G4 provides up to six hours of battery life for all-day mobile use in the classroom or on the road. They weigh 4.9 pounds and are encased in polycarbonate plastic enclosures.

Faster links The current generation is ready for AirPort Extreme, though an AirPort Extreme card is also required. Purchasers can also choose to have the optional Bluetooth module installed on purchase for £35.

Connectivity features include: a single FireWire port, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet (10/100Base-T) and a built-in 56K v.92 modem. They also offer VGA video out, S-video and composite video outputs. The products also ship with iLife – iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and iTunes.

The new 12-inch iBook is available now, while the 14-inch models are expected to ship next week.

Available models include:

The 12.1-inch £849 800MHz G4 iBook with 30GB drive. (Weight 4.9 pounds);

The 14.1-inch £999 933MHz G4 iBook with 40GB drive. (Weight 5.9 pounds);

and, top-of the range, the £1,199 14.1-inch 1GHz G4 iBook with 60GB drive. (Weight 5.9 pounds). All prices include VAT.

The products support up to 640MB of DDR SDRAM and offer up to six hours battery life, Apple claims.

Apple also updated its eMac consumer desktops.