Mac upgrade puts G3 in notebook

Top-speed Macintosh notebook performance is now available at a much lower price.

The fastest PowerPC processors for Macintosh notebook computers are now available at a fraction of the cost of the elite G3 notebook, which can run as high as $5,600.

Tomorrow, Newer Technology

PowerBook 1400
Apple PowerBook 1400
will introduce an upgrade circuit board for the PowerBook 1400 notebook line. The upgrade "card" incorporates the same PowerPC 750 processor found in Apple Computer's newest "G3" notebooks--effectively giving users better performance at a lower overall cost.

The 1400 line, Apple's notebook for basic office and home applications, comes with a 166-MHz PowerPC 603e processor and 11.3-inch dual-scan or active-matrix displays. List prices start at $1,799.

Users can now upgrade these systems, as well as slower PowerBook 1400 models, with either a 216-MHz PowerPC 750 chip for $699 or a 250-MHz PowerPC 750 chip for $999. The end result is a G3-class notebook for no more than $3,000.

In comparison, a brand-new PowerBook G3 with 250-MHz G3 processor carries a list price of $5,699. Admittedly, it offers a larger screen and hard drive and other features such as built-in networking capability, but users mainly interested in adding horsepower to their notebooks will likely find the Newer Technology offering of interest.

Newer claims that the performance of its NuPower G3 card with 250-MHz processor will actually outperform Apple's newest notebook because it has more "cache" memory. The NuPower card comes with 1MB of secondary memory, compared to the PowerBook G3's 512K. Both processors have data fed to them directly from this memory, but Newer's card transmits it at a faster rate than the PowerBook for improved performance, the company says.

Newer, which has grown to a $60 million company largely based on the success of its processor upgrade cards for the Mac market, says it is targeting the cards for use in the 1400 series notebooks for two reasons. First, there are about 475,000 notebooks that have been sold; second, the 1400's design is easier to service than the upscale PowerBook 3400, the notebook that preceded the PowerBook G3.

Owners of PowerBook G3 systems aren't being ignored by Newer, though. The company is now making a docking station for Apple's newest notebook which allows people to quickly hook up to networks, desktop monitors, keyboards, and other devices. Apple itself doesn't offer the product. The BookEndz docking station for G3 notebooks will be priced at $189.

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