New MacBook Air lineup replaces MacBooks with speed bumps and new features
Apple announced a refresh to the MacBook Air lineup this morning, upgrading the processors to Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors and adding Thunderbolt ports and backlit keyboards. Four models are available (two each of the 11-inch and 13-inch sizes) with models differing by processor speed, installed memory and storage capacity. They range in price from $999 to $1599 and are available now online.
All four models feature glossy, LED backlit displays driven by Intel HD 3000 graphics processors. FaceTime webcams, two USB ports, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 also are included and the 13-inch model has an SD card slot. Additional specs can be found here.
The MacBook Air is a completely solid-state device with no moving parts. This makes it extremely lightweight with fast boot and wake up times. With the addition of Thunderbolt the functionality has been increased for use with external peripherals. The lack of an optical drive, however, still may give some people pause.
Not surprisingly, with the new MacBook Air lineup Apple has quietly discontinued the MacBook line. With the price point of the MacBook being so close to the MacBook Air, this makes sense but still it is bound to upset those who still want an entry-level Mac laptop with an optical drive. Now those who want a built-in optical drive will have to step up to the MacBook Pro line which starts at $1199. Another alternative would be to get a MacBook Air and an external USB optical drive.
The MacBook Air is a very sleek and sexy laptop and these upgrades make it a viable candidate as a daily laptop for most people. If the optical drive is hanging you up, ask yourself how often you use your optical drive now. You may be surprised to find you don't need it as much as you think.