Whoops-- as usual, looks like we spoke a little too soon. Evidently there is a new PowerBook out there, but before you bust out the party hats and credit cards, we should probably warn you that it's not exactly what people were expecting. First of all, it's not a G4; it's not even a faster G3. It has the exact same enclosure as the previous model Pismo-- no Graphite-and-silver this time around. In fact, it's just like the Pismo in almost every way, because it is a Pismo, but with one fairly subtle improvement. As faithful viewer Nik Stanosheck points out, Apple's pro portable models each got a hefty boost in disk space; the PowerBook Zone reports that the entry-level 400 MHz model has been bumped from 6 GB to 10, while the all-the-fixin's 500 MHz beauty has had its storage pumped from 12 GB to 20. A 30 GB drive is also a build-to-order option at the Apple Store, provided you don't mind shelling out some extra cash.
Other than that, though, this is your father's PowerBook (provided, of course, that your dear ol' Pop happens to own a first-edition Pismo). Apple hasn't touched a thing other than the hard drive-- and the part number, which may explain all those stories about the original Pismo's SKU being marked as "discontinued" in various inventory systems. For those of you who had taken that as an irrefutable sign that Steve was about to trot out a PowerBook G4 with a spiffy new silver-and-translucent clamshell case, built-in stylus input, and 16x9 widescreen display, well, sorry your bubble got burst. But extra disk space is nice, right?
In fact, we have to assume that the only reason why the PowerBook got a storage boost was because "little brother" was acting up again. Check it out; the new iBook Special Edition includes a 466 MHz processor and a 10 GB hard drive, so it sure doesn't look good when Apple's "pro" model has only a 400 MHz G3 and a 6 GB drive-- but costs $700 more. Sure, the PowerBook's got a faster system bus, four times the cache, VGA video-out, PC card slots, and a slew of other cool features that the iBook lacks, but from a marketing perspective, it's probably kinda tough to persuade people to spend $700 more on a laptop with a slower processor clock speed and a much smaller drive.
But here's where marketing makes things tough; Apple can't boost the PowerBook chip speeds. Despite the fact that faster G3s are available, to the clock-speed-is-God public, Apple's top model PowerBook would then appear to be faster than the high-end desktop G4/500, which is a big fat no-no. Basically, as long as the G4 is stuck at 500 MHz, we're going to bet that Apple won't ship any G3-based system (such as the PowerBook) clocked any higher. So, a disk bump it is... and hopefully that'll be enough to keep PowerBook sales from falling through the floor until the PBG4 is ready, whenever the heck that turns out to be.