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Jobs Keynote: Apple Beefs Up Mobility with New Notebooks, Wireless Technologies

New PowerBooks, FireWire 800, AirPort Extreme, creative apps highlight announcements By Dave Nagel
Steve Jobs has concluded his keynote address at the Macworld Expo. Announcements today have included a new 17-inch PowerBook; a 12-inch PowerBook; FireWire 800; Pro Tools for Mac OS X; a stripped-down version of Final Cut Pro called Final Cut Express; a new Web browser called Safari; a new application for presentation professionals called Keynote; and new versions iMovie, iDVD and iPhoto. We'll be providing coverage throughout this event, as well as a roundup when the event concludes. Read on for announcements made today, and stay tuned for a roundup and analysis of Jobs's presentation.

In hardware news, Jobs introduced a new 17-inch PowerBook G4. The new machine includes a 1 GHz G4 processor, a GeForce 440 Go graphics processor, FireWire 800, a SuperDrive DVD burner and 17-inch landscape screen (1,440 x 900 pixels), taken from the 17-inch iMac but with a thinner backlight. The machine is actually slightly thinner than previous Titanium PowerBooks, about an inch thick, and weighs 6.8 pounds. It also includes a lighted keyboard with ambient light sensors for automatically adjusting the keyboard's illumination. It includes BlueTooth wireless connectivity, FireWire 800, FireWire standard, gigabit Ethernet and the new AirPort Extreme. It boots only into Mac OS X and will be available for $3,299 next month.

Jobs has also announced FireWire 800, the next-generation FireWire standard. It offers 800 Mbps transfers, up from 400 Mbps in previous version of FireWire. The new technology also uses a new connector but can also use an adapter for backward compatibility.

He also announced AirPort Extreme, which is based on 802.11g, offering 54 Mbps data transfers. The old version of AirPort ran at 11 Mbps. It's also fully backward compatible with 802.11b, including 802.11b-based base stations. As part of the lineup, Apple has introduced a new card and moved the antenna in the new PowerBooks to the top of the display bezel. According to Jobs, the new AirPort in the PowerBooks has the same range as the iBook. The new base station offers support for 50 users and can also bridge between multiple base stations. ANd the base station now includes a USB port for USB printing. The base station will sell for $199.

And Jobs also announced a new 12-inch PowerBook, Apple's smallest notebook to date. It includes an 867 MHz G4 processor, a GeForce 420 Go graphics processor, slot-loading CD burner and DVD reader, Bluetooth connectivity and support for AirPort (though the card is not included). It also boots into Mac OS X and comes bundles with QuickBooks Pro. It sells for $1,799--the least expensive PowerBook ever--and will ship in two weeks. A SuperDrive is available as an option for $200 more.

Other announcements so far have been wide-reaching, from professional audio, video and presentations to DVD authoring, Web browsing and photo manipulation.

• In his first major announcement, Jobs introduced Digidesign's Pro Tools for Mac OS X, which will ship this month. Pro Tools has been highly anticipated for Mac OS X, will be available as a $75 upgrade from the Mac OS 9 version. (We'll provide coverage of this announcement separately later today.)

• Jobs also announced a new application called Final Cut Express, a new, "lite" version of Final Cut Pro. The software is designed to look and work like the higher-end Final Cut Pro NLE, but with fewer features. It does support unlimited layers of audio, video and graphics. It includes 200 effects and transitions, including software-only real-time effects. It's available today for $299.

• Today Jobs also launched iMovie 3, which now includes chapters (which will be automatically picked up in iDVD). It adds pan and zoom functionality for still images and audio editing capabilities within clips. The application now appears in a window rather than in full screen. For integration with iDVD, iMovie 3 now includes a function called "Create iDVD Project," which provides instant translation to the iDVD project format, replacing the old requirement for exporting iMovie projects.

• Apple's iDVD also receives an update to version 3.0. Jobs said Apple has distributed 680,000 copies of the free DVD authoring application to date. The new version includes additional themes and larger previews with new video effects over the preview footage, such as film aging, picture in picture and others. The software can also import chapters from iMovie 3. Apple has also lowered the price of its own DVD-R media to $3 per disc.

• He has also introduced iPhoto 2, which includes one-touch image enhancements and archiving capabilities for CD and DVD.

• The new versions of the free "i" applications will be available Jan. 25, bundled with new machines. All of the applications together will be collectively called "iLife." Most will be available for download, but not iDVD. All applications will be available for purchase in a retail bundle for $49.

• Jobs has also announced Safari, a new Apple Web browser for Mac OS X. Jobs called it a "turbo browser" and said it's the fastest browser available for the Macintosh. It competes directly with Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and others. It includes integrated Google searches; a new method for using bookmarks; and a simplified user interface. A beta release will be available as a free download starting today.

• For the presentation market, Jobs has introduced a new application called Keynote. The software is designed for presentation professionals and includes slideshow management functionality; anti-aliased text; alignment guides; full alpha-channel graphics support (with image transformations and effects, such as opacity control). It also supports major graphics formats, including Photoshop files with layers. It can build tables and charts and includes a stock image library and video-style transitions. It includes customizable themes, as in iDVD. And it can import and export PowerPoint files and export PDF and QuickTime. Jobs says he's used early versions of the software for all of his keynote addresses in 2002. It runs on Mac OS X 10.2 and sells for $99. It's available today.

In other news, Jobs announced that there are now more than 5 million active users of Mac OS X and more than 5,000 native Mac OS X applications, up from 2,000 at the beginning of the year. He also announced an extension of Microsoft's Office promotion, which allows purchasers of new Mac systems to buy Microsoft Office for $199. It has been extended through April 7.

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].

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