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MacBook Air updated with faster CPU, backlit keyboard, Thunderbolt port (Updated)

Update: Our apologies. Due to an editing error, the original version of this post had incorrect specs for storage and RAM on the 11" MBA; it also cited an 8GB BTO option for RAM on the 13", which is not available. This has been corrected.

As predicted, the MacBook Air has been updated hot on the heels of the release of OS X Lion. The update sees a few welcome upgrades to the hardware, including the return of backlit keyboards and an upgrade of the base RAM from 2 to 4 GB. The 11-inch MacBook Air now comes with a 128 GB SSD, far roomier than the cramped 64 GB last generation's base model had. The 11" Air now includes 64 and 128GB flash drives as standard options, with a BTO option of a 256GB drive. The 13" includes 4GB of RAM by default, and the 11" has both 2GB or 4GB models.

The MacBook Air's CPU has seen significant upgrades to Intel's "Sandy Bridge" architecture. The base CPU is an Intel Core i5 clocked at 1.6 GHz, and build-to-order options exist to bump the CPU as high as a 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 (only for the higher-cost version in each screen size). These are by far the fastest processors the MacBook Air has ever had, and while it'll likely be a couple of days before they're benchmarked, they have the potential to be around as powerful as a 2008-model MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Air has also gained a Thunderbolt I/O port, bringing it in line with the MacBook Pro and iMac updates from earlier this year. The Thunderbolt port replaces the MacBook Air's former Mini DisplayPort and gives it the fastest port yet seen on Apple's ultraportable line. It's designed to pair nicely with the new Thunderbolt display.

Tech specs of the new MacBook Air models are below.

11-inch:

  • 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 CPU (1.8 GHz Core i7 build-to-order)
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • one model with 2 GB RAM and 64 GB SSD; another with 4 GB and 128 GB SSD
  • Thunderbolt, Two USB ports
  • OS X Lion
  • Available now for US$999 and $1199

13-inch:

  • 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5 CPU (1.8 GHz Core i7 build-to-order)
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB build-to-order)
  • 128 or 256 GB SSD
  • Thunderbolt, Two USB ports, SD Card port
  • OS X Lion
  • Available now for $1299 (128 GB) or $1599 (256 GB)

The latest models will go on sale online today and starting tomorrow Thursday, July 21 in retail stores.

Show full PR text
Apple Updates MacBook Air With Next Generation Processors, Thunderbolt I/O & Backlit Keyboard

CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apple® today updated the MacBook Air® with next generation processors, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, a backlit keyboard and Mac OS® X Lion, the world's most advanced operating system. With up to twice the performance of the previous generation, flash storage for instant-on responsiveness and a compact design so portable you can take it everywhere,* the MacBook Air starts at $999 (US) and is available for order today and in stores tomorrow.

"MacBook Air features our most advanced technology and is an ideal match for Lion, especially with its new Multi-Touch gestures, full-screen apps, Mission Control and Mac App Store."
"Portable, affordable and powerful, MacBook Air is the ultimate everyday notebook," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "MacBook Air features our most advanced technology and is an ideal match for Lion, especially with its new Multi-Touch gestures, full-screen apps, Mission Control and Mac App Store."

MacBook Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models that easily slip into a briefcase, purse or bag. The MacBook Air's durable aluminum unibody enclosure measures an incredibly thin 0.11-inches at its thinnest point and 0.68-inches at its thickest. Flash storage allows MacBook Air to turn on instantly and deliver fast data access, improved reliability and incredible energy efficiency. The 11-inch model weighs 2.38 pounds and provides up to 5 hours of battery life, while the 13-inch weighs 2.96 pounds and provides up to 7 hours of battery life.**

With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is up to twice as fast as the previous generation and has all the power you need for editing photos and movies, making FaceTime® calls, playing games, and working with documents and presentations. MacBook Air also features Intel HD Graphics 3000 and offers up to 4GB of faster 1333 MHz memory.

Thunderbolt I/O technology provides expansion possibilities never before available to MacBook Air users. Through a single cable, users can connect to high performance peripherals and the new Apple Thunderbolt Display, the ultimate docking station for your Mac® notebook. Thunderbolt can easily be adapted to support legacy connections such as FireWire® and Gigabit Ethernet.

MacBook Air comes with a full size backlit keyboard and an innovative glass Multi-Touch™ trackpad. Designed for comfort and ease of typing, the backlit keyboard uses a sensor to automatically detect a change in ambient lighting and adjusts the keyboard brightness for any environment. The Multi-Touch trackpad supports Lion's new Multi-Touch gestures such as momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps.

MacBook Air also features a brilliant, high resolution LED backlit display that is amazingly thin yet has the resolution of a much larger, bulkier screen. With ultra-fast Wi-Fi, you can wirelessly download apps from the Mac App Store™, get music and movies from iTunes®, back up data to Time Capsule® and quickly and easily share files using AirDrop. MacBook Air includes Bluetooth for wireless peripherals and two USB ports for easy connectivity for the wired and wireless devices you use every day.

Apple makes the industry's greenest notebook lineup and the new MacBook Air meets Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold status.*** Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Every new MacBook Air comes with Mac OS X Lion, the eighth major release of the world's most advanced operating system, and iLife apps for creating and sharing great photos, movies and music. Lion introduces more than 250 new features to the Mac, including Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software, built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

Pricing & Availability

The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are available for order on the Apple Store® (www.apple.com) today and in Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers starting July 21. The 1.6 GHz 11-inch MacBook Air is available in two models, one with 2GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage for a suggested retail price of $999 (US), and one with 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage for $1,199 (US). The 1.7 GHz 13-inch MacBook Air comes in two configurations, one with 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage for a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US), and one with 4GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage for $1,599 (US). Configure-to-order options and accessories include a 1.8 GHz Core i7 processor, additional flash storage, MacBook Air SuperDrive® and a USB Ethernet Adapter.Show full PR text
Apple Updates MacBook Air With Next Generation Processors, Thunderbolt I/O & Backlit Keyboard



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Update: Our apologies. Due to an editing error, the original version of this post had incorrect specs for storage and RAM on the 11"...