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This week in Apple

Apple adds to steady stream of recently announced products with unveiling of new high-end photo processing software and upgrades to Power Mac desktop, PowerBook laptop.

Apple Computer added to its steady stream of recently announced products Wednesday with the unveiling of new high-end photo processing software and upgrades to its Power Mac desktop and PowerBook laptops.

The new Power Mac G5 Quad has two 2.5GHz dual-core PowerPC G5 processors. At press events in New York and later at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., the company said all Power Macs will now feature dual-core chips and improved graphics cards. PowerBook notebooks are getting higher-resolution displays and improved batteries on the 15-inch and 17-inch models. All PowerBooks also will include a DVD-burning SuperDrive.

Meanwhile, Apple pitched the photo software, called Aperture, as a way for professional photographers to regain tools lost in the move from film cameras to digital technology. The application lets photographers work easily with thousands of uncompressed RAW files and compare and edit the photos using a digital equivalent of a light table for sorting and a loupe for magnification.

While busy trotting out new products, Apple is keeping a close eye on one of its mainstays, the hugely popular iPod. The company is stepping up its push to get iPod accessory providers to pay royalties if they intend to make devices that connect electrically to the music player.

The move could generate millions of additional dollars for Apple, but it also could elicit some grumbles.

"Isn't going all proprietary like this the exact way they lost the PC market?" asked CNET News.com reader Bard Nott. "Apple, don't go down this road. Don't discourage people from supporting your product."

Walt Connery had even harsher words. "The company is constitutionally unable to see other manufacturers within its markets as anything but leeches and parasites who are always seeking gain at Apple's expense," he wrote. "Such companies are never viewed as 'partners' in a growing market."

Other readers, however, found nothing to criticize in Apple's move. "What makes this an 'iPod tax?'" asked a reader with the moniker Ru Sirius. "Answer, nothing. It is standard business practice."

In more iPod-related news, lawyers filed a class action suit this week against Apple on behalf of those who have purchased the diminutive iPod Nano.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., alleges that Apple violated state consumer protection statutes, as well as express and implied warranties. The complaint charges that Apple knew there were design problems with the Nano.

Questions about whether the Nano's screen scratches more easily than the screen on the original iPod have been bubbling up on Apple message boards since shortly after the product was released in September.

Video iPod gets steamy
The newest iPod on the block also made headlines this week. Just a week after the release of the new video-enabled iPod, content for the player is starting to appear online. Get ready for the big surprise: Steamy subjects are leading the way.

Pinup site Suicide Girls said Thursday that it had launched a new, free feature: downloadable videos of interviews and photo shoots with its models, all configured for the video-capable device. At least one unambiguously adult site, Povpod.com, has also released content for the device.

The Suicide Girls "featurettes" are among the first of what is likely to be a flood of video reconfigured for the iPod player.