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Wednesday, February 16, 2005, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Apple to add high-density display option to PowerBooks?

Apple Computer may be planning to offer PowerBooks with higher density displays, and may have intended to do so with its latest PowerBook offerings, tipsters tell AppleInsider.

It's either that, or the company is speaking with a loose interpretation of the term "native resolution" in the printed user manuals that are being shipped with the first batch of its new 17-inch PowerBook models.

Page 22 of Apple's new 17-inch PowerBook G4 manual reads: "Depending on how your PowerBook was configured, it may have a wide-screen display that has a 'native' resolution of 1920 x 1200 or 1440 x 900. For either of these native resolutions, other standard resolutions, such as 1024 x 768, are supported."

Currently, the 17-inch PowerBook G4 ships with a native screen resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels, which offers about 1,296,000 total pixels. A display with a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 is of much higher density, offering sharper images with nearly double the pixel count (2,304,000), and thus double the screen density. Nowhere on Apple's website is there mention of this higher density resolution, nor are there any configure-to-order options available at the Apple Store.

Apple Care customer support representatives are also perplexed by the statement in the user manual. None of the representatives with whom AppleInsider correspondents spoke could offer an explanation of the aforementioned documentation, but they did rule out the possibility that it was a reference to the PowerBook's video mirroring or external display feature.

Screens with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 are categorized as WUXGA displays, which is short for Wide Ultra eXtended Graphics Array. PowerBooks currently ship with WXGA displays (or Wide XGA).

For quite some time, Apple's laptop users have been clamoring for higher resolution displays. These higher density/higher resolution displays offer more desktop space in same-size screen, allowing power users and designers to work more efficiently and providing an alternative to connecting an external display for additional workspace.

In the past, Apple has only offered a single screen option for its PowerBooks, leaving consumers with little choice in configuring their laptops with the higher density screens that have been available from other vendors for quite some time. For example, both Dell and Sony offer WUXGA displays on their 17-inch Inspiron 9200 and VAIO A170B25 notebooks, respectively. Dell also offers a 15.4-inch WUXGA display option on its Precision M70 notebook for an additional US$130.

Some insiders speculate that Apple's PowerBook sales volume does not justify the additional costs of offering another configuration. But as of yet, Apple has even failed to offered a configure-to-order display option through its online store, which would presumably reduce costs and allow 'power users' to pay a premium for an optional higher density display.

"Page

Page 22 from the new 17-inch PowerBook user manual.


As far as Apple's reference a 1920 x 1200 WUXGA display in the 17-inch PowerBook user manual, it could be a mistake or simply a misleading statement. But more likely, the manual references an undelivered display option that was planned with the last round of PowerBook G4 updates, but canned just prior to the product line update released earlier this month.

Typically, Apple chooses not to author its user-based product documentation far in advance of product releases, due to the potential for product specs and features to change throughout the course of product development. In its shroud of secrecy, the company also holds off publication of such documentation until the very last minute to avoid leaks to the media and public.

Meanwhile, other sources claim the new display option may be announced as a standard or configure-to-order option on an upcoming PowerBook "HD" model, which would bode with Steve Jobs' claim that 2005 will be the "year of high definition" ("HD").