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Apple updates Macintosh lineup

Apple Computer today updated its entire Macintosh lineup with a slew of new systems, including its first multiprocessing model.

Aiming to prove that it can compete with its fast-moving competitors, Apple Computer today updated its entire Macintosh lineup with a slew of new systems, including its first multiprocessing model. But noticeably absent from the announcement were low-cost entry-level systems needed by Apple to capture the all-important home market.

Analysts said the extra muscle at the high end of the company's lineup will help it combat Pentium-based systems from Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard and others. However, Apple still hasn't debuted adequate low-end systems, they said.

"The main disappointment [in this announcement] is that there is not more in the low end," said Kevin Hause, an analyst with International Data Corporation. "They may be waiting to get rid of low-end channel inventory before they make an announcement. Hopefully, they have something waiting in the wings.

Apple announced the Power Macintosh 9500/180MP, a multiprocessor system powered by two 180Mhz PowerPC 604e chips. The system includes 32 megabytes of RAM, a 2 gigabyte hard drive, and an 8x speed CD-ROM drive for $5,699.

Apple updated its Power Macintosh systems with the addition of faster PowerPC 604e processors. The top-of-the-line Power Macintosh 9500/200 and 9500/180 include a 200Mhz and 180Mhz PowerPC chips, respectively, and are priced from $4,899. Both systems include 32MB of RAM, a 2GB hard disk, and an 8x speed CD-ROM drive.

The Power Macintosh 8500 series includes two midline models are aimed at publishing and video applications and include near-broadcast-quality video and audio. The Power Macintosh 8500/180 costs $4,499 and the 150 Mhz 8500/150 is priced at $3,599.

Three new low-end Power Mac systems, the 7600/132 and 7200/120 are aimed at desktop publishing and education users. Prices start at $2,299. A PC-compatible version of the 7200/120 includes both a PowerPC 601 processor and a 100 Mhz Pentium chip and costs $2,799.

Apple introduced a PowerPC processor upgrade card for existing Power Macintosh users. The card includes a 180Mhz processor and costs $899.

Apple rolled out a refresh to its Performa home computer series, but prices of the systems still hover above the $2,000 mark, putting the company at a disadvantage versus Intel-based competitors now selling low-cost home systems.

"That's very important part of the market and that's where the volume is," said Hause. "I have not heard that they are planning a sub-$2,000 system."

The Performa 6400 series includes a 180Mhz or 200Mhz PowerPC processor and 16MB of RAM and a 1.6 or 2GB hard drive, priced from $2,399.

The Performa 6400 series also includes Personalized Internet Launcher, a free application that lets Performa users dial into a special Web server that searches a database and matches their interests with a series of Web sites. The software is also available free of charge to existing Performa users from Apple's Web site.