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Summary:

We knew Apple was introducing something today, what we didn’t know was that it was going to be saying goodbye as well. The basic white MacBook is getting squeezed out in favor of the newly polished and upgraded MacBook Air lineup.

MacBook Air 11.6 inch

MacBook Air 11.6 inch
We knew Apple was introducing something today, but what we didn’t know was that it was going to be saying goodbye as well.

In addition to Apple officially making OS X 10.7 available for download, it unleashed a fresh set of MacBook Airs, updating both the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch model. Now they include a Thunderbolt port, Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chips, backlit keyboard, and faster 1333 MHz memory in up to 4GB. And slapping a $999 price tag on there makes for a very attractive, and yes, very thin package.

The knock on the Air before today was that it had outdated chips. Now you can’t say that, and there’s no longer any good reason to buy the old entry-level MacBook (that white plastic one), which also started at $999. Apple clearly agrees: If you head over to the company Web site to shop around for a laptop, the MacBook is nowhere to be found. The lineup goes right from Air to MacBook Pro. (The exception is if you’re in the education field. Apple will make the basic MacBook available to that group only.)

When the Air was first introduced in 2008, many considered its niftiest feature to be its capability of fitting inside an inter-office mail envelope. In other words, it was seen mostly as a pretty feat of engineering, but impractical for most people — no optical drive? How would that ever work?

Flash forward to the present, and this is the laptop Apple is going to be pushing most new buyers toward. The big hint about that is the fact that they’ve decided to use the new Air as the first laptops to come standard with Lion. The Air, once a novelty, is now the standard Apple laptop.

  1. $999 in this day and age for a notebook that has 2GB RAM, no dedicated graphics and no SD card slot is hardly what many users would consider “attractive”.

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  2. $999 got me a MacBook with 256GB storage 2.4 GHz processor, 2GB memory, and a 13″ screen. I prefer that configuration to spending $1600 to get something similar on the Air. Apple is definitely pushing consumers upmarket and leaving others behind. But I reckon that’s the gap that the iPad fills…

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  3. Actually make a certain kind of sense. Reminds me of when Apple did away with the floppy drive… everyone went nuts! “No floppy, have they lost their minds?!” Now no computer comes with a floppy as standard. Apple saw the paradigm shifting from floppies to optical and network sharing.

    Fast forward to today… “No optical drive, have they lost their minds?!” Really? Very likely in a few years time every portable computer (laptop, tablet, whatever) will get and store all of its information on the “Cloud”, even video. Who’ll need or even want an optical drive adding size, weight, and battery drain to their portable device then?

    Love ‘em, hate ‘em, or whatever… Apple is almost always ahead of the curve, at least conceptually. If I had the money, I’d buy two. As it is, I’ll just keep blogging from my $300 Toshiba Netbook. ;)

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