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Apple debuts entry-level 13" MacBook at $1099

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Apple debuts entry-level 13" MacBook at $1099

Cupertino (CA) – It was almost a sure bet, when Apple unveiled its new Intel Core Duo-based notebook computers three months ago, that the “Pro” designation beside “MacBook” indicated an entry-level model was on the way. Sure enough, Apple has come through today with a 13″ “non-Pro” MacBook, available now, with much of the same features as the 15″ models, and a price tag that finally flirts with the three-digit range.

Apple’s new, black 13″ MacBook running iChat.

Taking after its technological cousin – the new iPods – the $1,299 2.0 GHz MacBook models will be available in sleek white or a bold alternative that Apple just recently discovered, sleek black. (Patent pending.) While the display measures 13 inches diagonally, it will maintain the same “widescreen” aspect ratio as the 15- and 17″ MacBook Pros, with a maximum resolution of 1200 x 800. The $1,099 MacBook will be available in white only, and feature the 1.83 GHz processor that had been the MacBook Pro’s entry level speed when it was originally announced.

Today, Apple is citing SPECrate tests on the new Macbook that tout 5.1 times the integer performance, and 5.7 times the floating point performance, of the 1.42 GHz iBook G4 that everyone – including Apple – admitted to be severely outdated. Graphics for the new system will be driven by the on-board Intel 950 chipset, which should create a little bit of a performance gap between it and its 15″ big brother, which uses ATI’s Mobility Radeon X1600. Storage options will be limited to 60 GB 5400 rpm hard drives for the 1.83 GHz edition, or 60 GB or 80 GB drives for the 2.0 GHz edition, with upgrades ranging to 120 GB. SuperDrives capable of writing to DVD-R and -RW will be limited to the 2.0 GHz edition, with DVD-ROM/CD burner combo drives for the 1.83 GHz edition.

To save space for this small device, there is no built-in modem. These days, many users might not even miss it. A USB modem is available, though gigabit Ethernet is built-in, as well as Airport 54 Mbps WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate. And Steve Jobs’ favorite gizmo, the iSight camera, is also built-in.

With its consumer notebook product line now filled out, analysts and observers are now waiting for what must be Apple’s next move – perhaps the only innovation remaining on the company’s checklist: the renovation of the company’s PowerMac line. It remains to be seen exactly what Intel processors will be used in Apple’s performance desktop line, to replace the current PowerMac G5s. But with some aspects of iMac and even MacBook Pro performance rivaling what’s attainable on today’s G5s, and with Intel having green-lighted its Core 2 Duo line, it’s a safe bet that a Conroe-based – or even a Woodcrest-based – architecture will highlight Apple’s new performance line.

The next big Apple event is the company’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC), to be held the second week of August in San Francisco. Perhaps there, Steve Jobs will have yet another opportunity to reveal just “one more thing.”