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Monday, November 06, 2006, 07:00 pm PT (10:00 pm ET)

Briefly: new Apple hardware shipments blip on radar

Apple Computer may be ready to update its MacBook line of consumer notebooks with Intel Corp.'s Core 2 Duo processors as early as this week, tipsters tell AppleInsider.

Rumors relating to specific release dates for the enhanced 13-inch notebooks have swirled in recent weeks, fueled in part by European resellers who continue to report little success in obtaining new stock of existing Core Duo-based models.

Those rumors were stoked further last week when web surfers stumbled upon some unusual listings at Play.com, a European Apple reseller which abruptly began accepting pre-orders for several unannounced Core 2 Duo-based MacBook models through its online store.

Now tipsters tell AppleInsider that three new Apple hardware products are en-route the U.S. this week, carrying previously unoccupied manufacturers part numbers MA699LL/A, MA700LL/A and MA701LL/A.

Apple's existing line of MacBooks are similarly available in three standard retail configurations: two white-colored models (1.83GHz and 2.0GHz) and a single black model (also 2.0GHz). They range in price from (U.S.) $1099 to (U.S.) $1499.

While AppleInsider has been unable to positively confirm the latest product rumblings pertain specifically to MacBooks, the reports are similar to those that appeared in the days and hours leading up to Apple's announcement of Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Pro models late last month.

In September, AppleInsider reported that Mac maker had wrapped up development of revised MacBook and MacBook Pro models, each of which would sport Core 2 Duo chips from Intel. People familiar with the company's plans said both lines were tracking for a release prior to the holiday shopping season, which has historically seen its initial surge the day after Thanksgiving.

On Oct. 24, Apple introduced 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro models with Core 2 Duo processors, leaving only its 13-inch MacBook offerings with Core Duo chips.