Apple Computer Inc last week announced its first PowerPC-based Powerbooks and launched low-end Model 190 and Model 190cs 68LC040-based machines, that undercut existing prices substantially (CI No 2,745). An entry-level Model 190 costs between $1,850 and $1,900 and the 33/66MHz processor offers performance which Apple said is comparable with that previously offered by its top of the line laptops. The PowerPC-based machines are the 2300 Duos, driven by a 100MHz 603e processor and the PowerBook 5300 series, running at 100MHz or 117MHz. The 5300s are shipping now; the other machines in the middle of October. It remains to be seen whether supply is constrained by Apple’s infamous demand mis-estimations. The company claims the 5300s will offer performance similar to the original Power Macintosh 6100/60s and offer between three to five hours of battery life for the colour models; five and a half for grey-scale screens. All the PowerBook 5300 models come with 8Mb, 16Mb, or 32Mb RAM, expandable to 64Mb; a 9.5 grey-scale or a 10.4 active-matrix or dual-scan colour display; and 500Mb, 750Mb or 1.1Gb internal hard drive. The 2300 Duo uses exactly the same form factors as the previous 200-series machines and comes with 8Mb or 20Mb of RAM, expandable to 56Mb, and either a 750Mb or 1.1Gb hard drive. The 5300 comes with two Type II, one Type III PC Card slots which take cards complying with version 2.1 of the standard.
The only catch is making sure that the cards come with Macintosh drivers, but Apple is bundling modem, storage and Static RAM drivers with the machines, to help people get started. The 5300 also has a PowerBook expansion bay. Usually this is occupied by a floppy drive, but this can be unslotted and replaced by a number of third-party devices that the company said are on the way, including hard drives and magneto-optical, removable media drives. Apple itself is shipping the 5300s with a PC Card Storage Tray, a plastic tray that holds four Type II or two Type III PC Cards. As for communications, the 5300 comes with Apple IR File Exchange, essentially wireless AppleTalk. The company said the system can automatically locate and wirelessly connect itself to compatible, infra-red-equipped computers. By default it sets up public drop-folders so that users can simply drag and drop to the guest folder. Fuller sharing is available through the standard Personal AppleShare options. The speed is the same as the old LocalTalk, 230.4Kbps. Although the hardware complies to the Infrared Data Association standard, Apple is still working on compliant software. The first third party add-on to take advantage of the infra-red link is Farallon Computing Inc’s Airdock. This turns any desktop Mac into a wireless network station, acting as a bridge between the Powerbook and the conventional local area network. The good news for people opting to buy the Model 190 machines now is that they can be upgraded to exactly the same specification as a 5300. But PowerBook Duo users are somewhat left out in the cold, since they can’t even get the infra-red link. Existing PowerBook 500 and Duo 200 users can upgrade their machines. Duos need a full logic board upgrade, which comes with the 100MHz. The PowerBook 500 series upgrade is a dealer-installable, daughterboard upgrade, which includes 8Mb dynamic RAM on the daughterboard, expandable to 40Mb. The following prices are for 100MHz machines except for the 5300ce which runs at 117MHz. The 5300, with grey scale with 8Mb RAM, 500Mb hard drive, $2,200 to $2,300; 5300cs with dual-scan colour, 8Mb, 500Mb, $2,800 to $2,900, and $3,500 to $3,700 with 16Mb and 750Mb; 5300c, active-matrix colour, 8Mb, 500Mb, $3,700 to $3,900, and $4,500 to $4,700 with 16Mb and 750Mb; 5300ce active-matrix colour, 32Mb, 1.1Gb, $6,500 to $6,800; 190 grey scale, 4Mb RAM, 500Mb hard drive, $650 to $1,700, and $850 to $1,900 with 8Mb and 500Mb; 190cs, dual-scan colour, 8Mb, 500Mb, $2,300 to $2,300; 2300c, active-matrix colour, 8Mb, 750Mb, $3,500 to $3,600; and the 2300c, active-matrix colour, 20Mb RAM,
1.1Gb hard drive, $4,400 to $4,700 with Express Modem.