New MacBook Air ultra-light notebooks to ship today

20 Oct 2010

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has unveiled two new ulta-thin, ultra-light MacBook Air notebooks that represent a coming together of the iPad and the original MacBook Air families. The result? An 11.6-inch notebook weighing 2.3 pounds and a 13.3-inch notebook weighing 2.8 pounds.

At an event entitled ‘Back to the Mac’, Jobs revealed a number of exciting new software products, including iLife 11, iMovie 11 and a new version of GarageBand that teaches you how to play guitar, piano and other instruments. He also revealed Facetime on the Mac, as well as a new App Store specifically for Mac users.

Jobs also demonstrated the next version of Mac OS X – ‘Lion’ – which will come roaring into the technology world in summer 2011, featuring full-screen apps, gesture control and a snazzy new feature called Mission Control.

But in typical Jobs fashion, he kept the best news till last, two new MacBook Air devices that Jobs reckons will transform computing forever.

He revealed that the Mac portion of Apple’s business represents 33pc of the company’s revenues and is a US$22bn a year business with more than 20pc retail market share in the computer business. If it was a standalone business it would be No 110 on the Fortune 500 list.

Before introducing the new notebooks, Jobs asked the question: “What would happen if a MacBook met an iPad?” What he meant was what if all the features that make the iPad so compelling – instant on, longer battery life and standby time, solid state storage with no hard or optical drives and thinner and lighter – were attributes of a notebook?

13.3-inch MacBook Air

“The new MacBook Air is the future of notebooks,” Jobs proclaimed as he unveiled the first device, a 13.3-inch device with a LED backlit display that weighs just 2.8 pounds but comes with a high-resolution 1,440 x 900 display – more pixels than on a MacBook Pro.

The 13.3-inch device features a Core 2 duo processor and NVIDIA GeForce 320m graphics card. It has no optical drive, no hard drive.

“We have gone to solid state flash storage. It has the benefits of an iPad like instant on. It is two times faster than hard drives and more reliable, it has a completely silent operation.

“Apple is the largest user of Flash memory in the world,” Jobs revealed.

The 13.3-inch notebook has a battery life that lasts seven hours during a wireless web test and comes with 30 days of standby time.

11.6-inch MacBook Air

“The 13.3-inch Air isn’t the whole story,” Jobs said. “It has a younger brother with an 11.6-inch screen weighing just 2.3 pounds. It has everything the other one has except its high-resolution display is 1,366 x 768 pixels.”

The 13.3-inch MacBook Air has a wireless web battery life of five hours and also comes with 30 days of standby time.

In terms of pricing, Jobs revealed that the 11.6-inch device with 64GB will sell for US$999. Double the flash and it will cost US$1,199.

The 13.3-inch MacBook Air will cost US$1,299 and if you double the flash it will retail for US$1,599.

“I’m really excited and pleased to say both will be available from today,” Jobs said.

MacBook Air

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years