As rumored prior, Apple(s aapl) quietly updated its MacBook Air line of ultraportable laptops on Tuesday. It was expected that the company would use a newer Intel(s intc) chip to increase battery life but it’s a surprise to see that Apple dropped prices too. 9to5 Mac notes that the entry level MacBook Air now starts at $899, a full $100 less expensive than the model you could buy yesterday.
Choosing the fourth-generation Intel’s Core i5 to power the new MacBook Air gives both the 11- and 13-inch models more run-time on a single charge for iTunes movie playback. Battery life on the smaller MacBook Air jumps from 8 to 9 hours while the 13-inch laptop gains even more run-time: 12 hours on a charge, which is two more than the prior model.
The new chips are clocked slightly faster as well, now set at 1.4 GHz compared to 1.3 GHz for last year’s models. It’s too early to see benchmarks yet, but I’d expect a small performance bump with the new chips.
As one of the lightest and thinnest laptops on the market with solid performance, Apple’s MacBook Air was already an appealing device. The new price is only going to increase that appeal. For the first time, both base model sizes are available for under a thousand dollars as the 13-inch model now starts at $999. For an extra $200, either MacBook Air can be had with 256 GB of solid state disk storage — double the base model — which some are sure to choose. The bigger seller may be the base models, however, as the price drop makes them more accessible to a wider audience.
Some may still be waiting for that elusive unicorn though: A MacBook Air with the retina display screens found on Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops. It’s possible that Apple offers them later this year but I doubt it: It makes more sense for the company to bring better screens in the next hardware cycle in 2015 now that it has revamped the current line.