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New MacBook Air Lighter On the Wallet

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Despite an incremental speed increase, the biggest update to the MacBook Air at WWDC was the price. The low-end model is now $1,499, down $300, while the high-end model with a solid-state drive now sells for $1,799, a jaw-dropping $700 price drop.

Available in two models, the low-end version now features a 1.86 GHz Intel Core Duo, formerly 1.6 GHz, along with a 120 GB hard drive. The high-end now runs at 2.13 GHz, but more importantly has a 128GB solid-state drive. This is a huge improvement over the low-end model, not in capacity but speed. The problem with the 120GB mechanical hard drive is that it spins at 4200 RPM, resulting in a noticeable performance bottleneck. While the MacBook Air 128GB SSD is no Intel X-25M SSD, it’s still a big leap up from the mechanical hard drive. Apple is clearly addressing a major flaw with the MacBook Air by lowering the price on the SSD model. Unfortunately, that’s the only flaw being addressed.

Both models still have only 2GB of RAM, RAM that is soldered to the motherboard and cannot be upgraded. This seems especially curious when one considers that even the 13″ MacBook “Pro” has a high-end model with 4GB of RAM. Another deficiency, at least when compared with the MacBook Pros, is that the battery life on the MacBook Air remains at around 5 hours, the same as it was when the MacBook Air was introduced in January 2008. Another flaw, or absence of update, concerns the mouse button. The MacBook Air still has one, unlike the MacBook Pros. Why?

While the price drop is welcome, this MacBook Air is looking a lot like an interim update. Those who need the lightest, thinnest MacBook right now might want to consider it, but a true upgrade will probably come early next year. Look for more RAM, better battery life, and possibly a fast SSD drive then.

10 Responses to “New MacBook Air Lighter On the Wallet”

  1. BigDick

    Love the Macbook air! wondering though if anyone knows or has an idea when the next update on this laptop will come?? Either this year in december or early in 2010 in mid january? would love the response thank you!

  2. I love the MacBook Air’s sleek design, it’s just so thin and…airy, I guess. However, I don’t like how the bottom edges just curve upward so conspicuously. What do you guys think?

  3. I’d be surprised if Apple allowed for installation over the Internet at this time, though that is the future. MBA owners will have to use Remote Install, either wirelessly, which takes about forever, or using a hub/router between two machines, which takes about half of forever.

  4. I’m wondering how Snow Leopard will be installed on the MacBook Air. Seems unlikely that the drive sharing works during the installation. And not everyone has the external SuperDrive. Maybe Apple will distribute it also through iTunes?

  5. Barley…. Hmm, somehow I think that beer plus a Macbook Air would not bode well…

    On another subject, I am greatly appreciating the writing you guys are putting out. It makes up for the lack of late from TUAW. Keep up the good work!