Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Newer, Faster MacBook Airs Launched, Old Plastic MacBook Killed Off

Newer, Faster MacBook Airs Launched, Old Plastic MacBook Killed Off: "

The new MacBook Air comes with i5 processor, Thunderbolt and backlit keyboard

As expected, Apple has updated the MacBook Air. The super-portable laptop has now become a serious rival to its big brother, the MacBook Pro. In fact, read the specs and you’ll wonder why you would bother to buy a Pro ever again. And if you want a white plastic MacBook, you’d better rush to your local reseller — Apple has discontinued it.

The biggest internal changes are the processor and the new Thunderbolt port. The latter replaces the Mini DisplayPort of the previous Air, duplicating its video-out functionality and adding support for the high-speed I/O protocol which Apple first added to the new iMacs. Right now there are almost no Thunderbolt-compatible accessories to be bought, but that should change soon enough.

The processors have received a serious bump. The older Airs used 1.4 GHz and 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs. Now, you get Core i5 as standard (1.6GHz and 1.7GHz on the 11 and 13-inch models respectively), with an option to upgrade to 1.8GHz Core i7 on both models.

RAM has been bumped to 4GB on the 13-inch, and remains at 2GB on the 11-inch Air, and on both models graphics are now taken care of by Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 processor instead of the Nvidia GeForce 320M used previously.

Storage remains the same, with SSDs of 64 or 128 GB on the 11-inch Air and 128 or 256 GB on the 13-incher.

And good news! The Airs now feature backlit keyboards. This sounds like a small thing, but once you’re used to light-up keys, it’s a real pain not to have them.

Finally, the new Airs ship with OS X 10.7 Lion, which has also launched today and is available in the App store as a $30 download. These Lion-ready Macs have lost the Exposé and Dashboard keys, replaced by Mission control and Launchpad.

Why would you bother to buy a MacBook Pro? Reasons may include wanting a 15-inch screen, or a FireWire port, or an optical drive. Another reason could be that you want a heavier computer, or enjoy less battery life. What it clear is the the Pro MacBooks are on their way out, destined to be the iPod Classics of Apple’s laptop line.

The new Airs are available today, from $1,000 and $1,300. The old MacBook is dead, and the Pros continue their overweight existence. For now.

MacBook Air Specs [Apple]


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