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Friday, November 04, 2005, 02:30 pm PT (05:30 pm ET)

PowerBook to gain iSight, iBook to go widescreen in 2006

Along with its transition to Intel processors, Apple Computer in the first half of next year will introduce new eye-catching industrial designs for both of its laptop offerings, AppleInsider has learned.

Although the Mac maker has only gone on record in saying that the first Intel-based Macintosh systems are due by the middle of 2006, information passed on by extremely reliable sources indicates that the company is on track to begin introducing its first Intel machines much sooner.

With the initiation of the Intel Power Mac project last month, all five of Apple's Intel Macintosh projects are now said to be underway and moving at an exhaustive, yet fruitful pace. It should come as no surprise that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is reportedly leading the charge, with his heart set on making 2006 the next 1984.

Without getting into specific dates at this time, sources familiar with Apple's Macintosh hardware roadmap say the company is striving to unveil a completely redesigned set of Intel iBook laptops just in time for next year's K-12 educational buying season, which takes place around April or May.

Apple currently offers iBooks with either a standard 12- or 14-inch screen, but looks poised to introduce a completely new model built around (what appears to be) a 13-inch widescreen. Whether the company will offer other iBook models or standardize around the new widescreen model remains unknown.

Expected to make its debut even earlier than the new iBooks will be Apple's first Intel-based PowerBook, sources added. The new 15-inch PowerBook will carry over many of the design elements and styles that have made its aluminum PowerBooks so successful, but will be about 20- to 25-percent thinner than today's model.

The 12-inch PowerBook is no longer on Apple's roadmap — as reported in August — and the new Intel-based 17-inch model is slated for release several months later.

Following a trend that began with Apple's new iMac desktops last month (and first predicted in this AppleInsider report), both the new 15- and 17-inch are scheduled to include a built-in iSight video camera. As is the case with the iMac, the cams will be centered in the PowerBook's upper display bezel. The latest version of Apple's Photo Booth application will also be included with the new PowerBooks.

As part of its transition to Intel processors, sources also recently told AppleInsider that Apple wants to be one of the first PC manufacturers out of the gate with Intel's upcoming dual-core processors.