Mercury Week: Video and Display (Part III in a Series)

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

The new PowerBook G4, due to be announced at Macworld Expo SF 2001 next Tuesday is a revolutionary step for Apple. The new ‘Book marks the first time the company has squeezed a G4 microprocessor into a portable enclosure. In addition, Mercury will ship with new audio and expansion bay configurations which we covered here last week.

On the video front, Go2Mac broke the story in mid December that Mercury will ship with a video subsystem manufactured by nVIDIA – another first for Apple. The move to nVIDIA is believed to be a decision of better performance over ATi’s offerings, but many have suggested that Apple moved to nVIDIA after ATi’s well documented boo-boo of accidentally releasing new model information before the official Apple announcement.

If you would like to read more on the nVIDIA versus ATi video, I recommend reading our article from 19 December 2000 This Just In: Mercury to Ship with nVIDIA.

Easily the most controversial and exciting feature of the new machine, the display will feature a brand new 16:9 aspect ratio which is more rectangular (like the Apple Cinema Display) than all previous PowerBook displays which use a more square 4:3 aspect ratio. The rationale for this radical change ranges from having the ability to view “letterbox” DVD titles in their full glory to being able to work with two documents or applications side-by-side like the good old days of desktop publishing (anyone remember the Radius Two Page Display [TPD]?).

According to sources close to the Mercury project the display is the same ratio as the Apple Cinema Display, making it a true 16:9, just like the Cinema Display, only smaller. Physical dimensions are believed to fall between approximately 15.1 and 15.5-inches diagonally.

For a full rundown on the math behind the 16:9 aspect ratio screen and some of the other “widebook” PC notebooks that have be released, I recommend reading our article from 29 November 2000 Mercury, 15.1-inch LCDs and Math.

The new wide format display in Mercury is believed to be a result of Apple’s US$100 million investment in TFT manufacturer Samsung Electronics on July 28 1999. The wide display in Merc will be another first for Apple and should turn many heads in board meetings and on airplanes all over the globe. The new TFT will also contribute to the “gee-whiz factor” in what is shaping up to be one of Apple’s most innovative products yet.

Later this week: Mercury Wrap-Up

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