Apple today upgraded its PowerBook and iBook products, with its new G4 PowerBooks maxing out at 1.5GHz.

Graphics performance in its pro notebooks has been improved, and the SuperDrive that's included with some models burns at 4x speed. All new PowerBook G4s ship with AirPort Extreme and an internal Bluetooth module pre-installed.

Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller said: "Apple's PowerBook G4 notebooks continue to lead the industry with an unrivaled mix of performance and portability. No other notebook packs so much performance and so many cutting-edge features, including large widescreen displays, high-speed wireless networking, advanced connectivity and industry leading graphics, into such a thin and light design."

Both the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4s offer up to a 1.5GHz PowerPC G4 processor and improved graphics performance courtesy of an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor. Both the 1.5 GHz 15-inch model and 17-inch PowerBook can be custom configured with up to 128MB of graphics memory.

The new 12-inch PowerBook G4 features a 1.33 GHz G4 processor, NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 graphics with 64MB of dedicated video memory and a larger 60GB Ultra ATA hard drive.

The PowerBooks ship with Apple's popular iLife '04 suite of consumer creative products and Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther). All offer support for DVI, VGA, S-video and composite video.

The new 12- and 15-inch PowerBook G4 models are available "immediately", and the new 17-inch PowerBook G4 is expected to be available in "early May", Apple claims. All the following prices include VAT.

New PowerBooks – the skinny


The 1.33 GHz, 12-inch PowerBook G4 costs £1,149 and includes:

A Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive; 256MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM; Two USB 2.0 ports and FireWire(R) 400; A 60GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive.

The 1.33 GHz, 12-inch PowerBook G4 costs £1,299 and includes:

A 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive; 256MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM; Two USB 2.0 ports and Firewire 400; A 60GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive.

The 1.33 GHz, 15-inch PowerBook G4 costs £1,399, it includes:

A Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) optical drive; 256MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM; Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BASE-T); Two USB 2.0 ports as well as FireWire 400 and 800; A 60GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive.

The 1.5 GHz, 15-inch PowerBook G4 costs £1,749, this model includes:

A 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive; 512MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM; Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BASE-T);
Two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400 and 800; A backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor; An 80GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive.

The 1.5 GHz, 17-inch PowerBook G4 costs £1,949, and features:

A 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive; 512MB of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM; Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BASE-T); Two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 400 and 800; A backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor; An 80GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive.

Build-to-order options for these products include the ability to upgrade to up to 1.25GB DDR RAM on the 12-inch model and up to 2GB on the 15- and 17-inch models, backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor feature for the 15-inch PowerBook, the 4x SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW) optical drive, 128MB of graphics memory for the 1.5 GHz 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks, an 80GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive running at 5,400 rpm on all models, an AirPort Extreme Base Station and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

More affordable than before

UK prices for the previously available range of PowerBooks started at £1,299 for the entry-level 12-inch model (with Combo drive), or £1,449 (with 1x SuperDrive).

The 15-inch PowerBooks cost £1,599 (with Combo drive), or £1,999 (with 1x SuperDrive). The also SuperDrive-equipped 17-inch PowerBook cost £2,399 before.