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New Apple notebooks draw near

As Apple gets ready to unveil its newest and fastest PowerBooks, some manufacturers are already offering the systems for sale.

As Apple Computer gets ready to unveil its newest and fastest PowerBook notebooks, some manufacturers are already offering the systems for sale.

Early next month, Apple is expected to introduce new portables that will feature up to a 292-MHz PowerPC processor and the first 14.1-inch display on a PowerBook, as previously reported. But the new systems will be comparatively expensive.

A PowerBook G3/233 with 233-MHz processor, 12.1-inch dual scan display, 32MB of memory, a 2GB hard drive, CD-ROM, and built-in networking capabilities is expected to be priced at $2,250, according to Big Mac Computers, a division of Westwood Computers and Networking. Apple declined to comment on unannounced products.

As of early March, resellers had expected the new low-end notebook to be priced at $2,000, but Apple has since added more memory and other features to the system.

Apple is also expected to offer a G3/233 with a 13.3-inch active-matrix display for $2,850, and a system with a 14.1-inch display will be available with prices starting at $3,330, according to the Sepulveda, California-based reseller.

At the high end of the new lineup, Apple will offer the G3/292 with a 292-MHz PowerPC 750 processor, 14.1-inch active matrix display, 64MB of memory, an 8GB hard drive, CD-ROM, a modem, and built-in networking capability. Big Mac is offering the system for $5,395. The information was first noted by a Web site devoted to tracking the availability of Apple products.

The notebooks will represent a significant product introduction for Apple as it strives to maintain profitability, officials have said. The company recently posted its first consecutive quarterly profits since 1995, based on strong sales of the G3 line.

Apple is hoping that pent-up demand for new notebooks will boost the company to profitability again in the third quarter, a time frame that should also benefit from seasonal sales to education customers. The current top-line 3400 series PowerBooks were originally introduced in February 1997, and were refreshed in November with a faster PowerPC 750 processor.

In other Apple news, the company released HyperCard 2.4, the latest version of the company's custom software development tool. HyperCard is mostly used to create interactive applications training and education. HyperCard 2.4 is updated to take advantage of QuickTime 3.0's video and audio capabilities: HyperTalk applications can now link QuickTime movies and the World Wide Web.

HyperCard 2.3 customers can upgrade to the new version free of charge at Apple's Web site. The new version is also available for $99 at Apple's online store.