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Thursday, January 06, 2005, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Apple set to debut flash-based iPod, new PowerBook models

The Macworld Expo in San Francisco will play host to Apple's iPod flash player, and may also yield faster PowerBook models.

Apple Computer is poised to unveil its long-anticipated flash memory-based iPod digital music player at next week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, sources have re-confirmed to AppleInsider. The player has reportedly been under production since last December.

While details surrounding the player's physical look and feel remain a bit of a mystery, sources confirm that the iPod flash will sport an initial capacity of 1GB.

Apple is reportedly preparing for an aggressive marketing campaign around the player in Asian markets, where its hard disk-based players have arguably underperformed. According to sources, the player will retail in China for 999 HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) or approximately $129 - $149 USD.

Mac rumor site Think Secret also claims to have confirmed that the player will debut in 1GB form, but does not rule out the possibility of a second configuration boasting dual 1GB flash modules (or 2GB of total capacity for $199). True to previous reports, the site also confirms that the players are currently under production in Taiwan by ODM, Asustek.

Also next week Apple is rumored to increase the capacity of its iPod mini player to 5GB with the aid of 5GB ST1 drives from Seagate Technologies.

Faster PowerBooks

Meanwhile, sources say that Apple also holds a PowerBook G4 upgrade in the pipeline — rumored to be the last G4 bump before the laptops acquire G5 processors in the second half of 2005.

Sources say Apple will increase the speed of its high-end 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks to 1.7GHz with 1.667GHz G4 processors from Motorola's freescale division. The models are also expect boast improved graphics processors.

Tipsters also add that Apple has already begun to accept orders for these revised laptops in some markets, though it remains unclear exactly when they will debut and ship to retail.

While little information is available on changes to the 12-inch PowerBook, insiders suggest this model would likely be upgraded to a 1.5GHz G4 processor.