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Apple out with third Intel-based Mac, iPod cases

Company announces third Intel-based Mac, a revamped Mac Mini using Intel's single-core Intel Core Solo Chip. Plus: speakers and leather iPod cases.

Apple Computer is coming out with a third Intel-based Mac, a revamped Mac Mini using Intel's single-core Core Solo Chip.

Taking the stage at the company's well-publicized product announcement on Tuesday, CEO Steve Jobs said, "We've got some fun things to introduce today. Sort of medium-scale things."

He said the new Mac Mini is two and a half to three times faster than the G4 Mac Mini. The company will also offer a dual-core version that's roughly five times faster, he added.

"We think this is going to be a strong product for us," Jobs said.

Apple also announced its own brand of leather iPod cases, available in mid-March for $99, as well as a high-end speaker, the iPod Hi-Fi, on sale today for $349.

Jobs announced two models of the Mac Mini. One, for $599, has a 1.5-GHz Intel Core solo processor with a 60GB hard drive, combo drive that plays DVDs and burns CDs and 512MB of memory. The other, which goes for $799, has a 1.67-GHz Core Duo processor, an 80GB hard drive, 512MB of memory and a SuperDrive that burns CDs and DVDs. Both will be available starting today.

The new Mac Minis go from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet and has double the number of USB ports, said Jobs, who stood before the audience wearing his trademark black mock turtleneck and jeans. The Mac Minis will also come with Apple's Front Row software for watching movies, listening to music or viewing photos from across the room using a remote control. Consumers will also be able to view shared videos and photos.

Jobs demonstrated a new feature of Front Row that allows users to stream music that's stored on a nearby computer using Apple's Bonjour technology for automatically discovering resources on a network. Jobs noted that Bonjour used to be Rendezvous, but that Apple had to change the name of the technology due to a trademark spat.

Apple confirmed last week that it planned to introduce some "fun new products" on Tuesday but declined to say more about what those products might be.

In an e-mail sent to journalists, the company merely said the invited scribes should come to Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to learn more.

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