Apple has just upgraded their Powerbook line, but no G5s yet. Those of you thinking about getting a Powerbook, now is a good time. They range from 1.5GHz to 1.67GHz G4s all with a standard 512 MB RAM. They have also increased the hard drive speeds and sizes ranging from 60 to 100 GB. They still all come with 802.11g Airport Extreme and Bluetooth, only now they use Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rates giving 3X the performance of the previous standard. The models with Superdrives are now 8X. They are also shipping with the new iLife ‘05 - but not the iWork package.

There are two new features introduced this round that are interesting. The first is a feature that is already included in at least IBM Thinkpads that I know about and that is the Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS). This is the one feature that is nice to have, but that you never want to use. Essentially if you drop your computer while it is on, this feature will detect the acceleration and change in axis and will lock the hard drive heads away from the disk surface so they won’t get scratched in an impact. Like I said, not a feature that I’m about to test.

The other new feature is much more functional on a day-to-day basis. The scrolling trackpad allows you to use two fingers on the trackpad to scroll and pan around a document. This is similar to what SideTrack does now, except that you don’t have to pay extra for this. I also expect that before too long, someone will figure out that the only difference between the old trackpads and the new scrolling ones is the driver software and they will hack together something that can be used by people with older model Powerbooks (like me).

That said, it seems like a good time to be getting a Powerbook, unless you are dead-set on waiting until they squeeze a G5 in there. The Canadian Educational pricing starts at $1775 for the 12-inch model. For more info visit the Powerbook product page or the Canadian Apple Store.

Written by Colin Bate