October 18, 2005 @ 5:24 pm (EST) — posted by Alexandros Roussos (Software, Hardware, Events)
October 19: PowerMacs, Powerbooks, displays and photo application?

For the third time in ten weeks, Apple has scheduled a press event so as to announce new products, keeping a constant buzz on the company’s product releases.

As we said in an earlier posting that predicted Apple was about to announce another wave of products, the most likely Mac families to be updated this week are PowerMacs and Powerbooks.

More recent reports tend to confirm that these two line-ups will be updated and suggest that the release of the new PowerMacs could be followed by an update on the Cinema Displays line-up. There is maybe something coming on the software side as well - and this time it has to do with photography.

We have had very little information about the forthcoming hardware’s technical specifications. However, some of these characteristics are getting rather easy to guess.

PowerMacs:

Apple released a new iMac last week that includes new DDR400 memory and PCI-Express graphics. We can deduce that these characteristics will also be added to the new PowerMacs along with dual core PowerPC 970MP chips, at least for some of the models.

Earlier this year, evidence of the existence of dual-core support on some Apple’s developer utilities had been revealed by readers, while IBM also reckoned that the PowerPC 970MP chip exists.

We can expect dual-core and PCI-Express to arrive on the high-end PowerMac at least and maybe also on the mid-range PowerMac.

Powerbooks:

As for the Powerbooks, the use of the MPC7448 PowerPC G4 processor from Freescale is also an obvious choice for Apple, considering that the MPC7447A that is used in the current product line has already hit or surpassed its clock speed limits. Additionally, it appears that this chip is now available in quantity. There is clearly no reason for Apple to not use this chip while there are a few reasons for the company to not use a G5 chip.

If we take a look on our earlier reports that deal with the Powerbooks, we have three reports we may consider.
- A reader had hinted in February that there was a mistake on the last generation Powerbook’s manual, suggesting that Apple was working on Powerbooks with higher screen resolution.
- Sources have already mentioned late last year the possible use of the MPC7448 processor on future Powerbook lines late last year.
- Last year, we had reported that Apple may drop the 12″ model for a new form factor in the future.

So we may expect a slightly faster Powerbook line up with higher resolution screens (up to 1440x970 for the 17″). The 12″ Powerbook should disappear and maybe be replaced by another form factor that does not compete with the iBook.

Cinema Displays?

Back in late September, we had reported that new Cinema Displays were coming within the next two months. We may also infer some of the specifications of the new monitors by looking at the improvements of the new iMac’s display.

If you compare the specs of the 20″ inch iMac’s screen and the Cinema Display 20″, you’ll notice that the iMac’s screen contrast ratio is 800:1 and brightness is 280cd /m2 while the Cinema Display 20″ has a 400:1 contrast ratio and 250cd /m2 brighness. Response time is not given for the iMac’s screen while its 16ms (typical) for all the Cinema Displays.

So if they’re updated, the new displays will get at least improvements in terms of contrast ratio and maybe in response time. We wouldn’t exclude the inclusion of an iSight although we had no reports about it. However, we’re quite certain that prices will drop significantly, especially on the entry and mid-range models.

Photo retouching software?

During the last weekend, we received an unconfirmed report claiming that Apple was on the verge of releasing a professional photo retouching application. Although it will have similar photo retouching features, the application is not believed to be a real competitor to Adobe Photoshop in terms of market targeting.

What we don’t expect?

This event is clearly related to professional announcements, according to the invitation sent to the press, so we don’t expect any iPod or entry-level Mac related announcements.

Although updated Mac minis have already started shipping to customers since late last month, we don’t believe it will be part of the announcements. If the Mac mini is updated, we expect it to be done quietly, along with the re-opening of the online Apple Store at the special event’s end.



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