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Thursday, August 19, 2004, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Apple readying refined iSight video camera

Apple Computer is said to be readying a revision to its popular iSight web cam that will add support for superior video quality and include several other minor enhancements, reliable sources say.

From the outside, Apple's second generation iSight video cam reportedly looks and functions much like its predecessor. However, inside is a more refined and mature engine that improves on the company's successful rookie attempt in the video/web cam arena.

The updated cam will work with forthcoming versions of the Mac OS X operating system to deliver support for both higher optical resolution and higher frame rates through improved support of certain codecs that operate on the digital video stream, sources said.

The revised iSight is also said to sport an internal component reorganization and a slightly thicker camera barrel that will produce less heat than the current version.

Apple began distributing new iSight manufacturers part numbers to resellers in late July. Around the same time, the company also halted shipments of its current iSight model.

One Apple Store customer, who placed an order for an iSight (M933OLL/A) in July, was surprised when he found out that his order had automatically been updated to a new version of the cam (M8817LL/B), complete with and an unexpected two week delay.

Apple originally provided customers with an estimated August 9th shipment date for the new cams, but sources close to the project now expect the revised model to begin shipping quietly anytime between now and September.

In addition to revised packaging and an updated user manual, the new iSight will reportedly include new mounting hardware that will let users attach the camera to all of Apple's latest hardware offerings.

Sources say that the new iSight is currently undergoing internal quality assurance tests with both Mac OS X Panther and recent builds of Mac OS X Tiger with iChat 3.

Apple is also said to be working on a firmware update that will provide similar video improvements for the original iSight models.