Apple Unveils New MacBook Airs– Is This the End of the Plastic MacBook?
Apple today at their “Back to the Mac” event showed off a whole bunch of cool new products and features including the expected preview of the next version of OS X– called Lion, as well as a new iLife ’11 with all new features and enhancements to the popular Garageband, iMovie and iPhoto. And of course, they released the all new MacBook Air, now thinner than ever with a new 11.6 inch model to go with the traditional 13.3 inch one, and most importantly, a starting price of $999. Yes, that is the same $999 as the MacBook. In fact, I can definitely see this as perhaps being the white plastic MacBooks successor.
First off, let’s give a little background on this new MacBook Air, starting with whats new specs wise.
The first thing you notice on the new Airs is the design. Apple says they got this design from the work they’ve done with the iPad, and I definitely see it. It’s thin, sleek, and pretty much down to the bare minimum of ports to maintain a sleek design.
On both the 11.6 and 13.3 inch models, the Air only has 2 USB ports, a slot for plugging in the MagSafe charger, a mini DisplayPort for hooking up to a bigger screen, headphone jack, and on the 13.3 inch, an SD card slot (why the 11.6 inch Air lacks this doesn’t really make much sense to me. I mean, 10 inch netbooks have this why can’t the 11.6 inch Air?). Put this on the all new MacBook Pro like unibody aluminum casing with glass multitouch trackpad and you’ve got yourself a slick-looking computer.
Under the hood the Air also doesn’t seem to be lacking too much. The 11.6 inch Air (the one that starts at $999) comes with a 1.4 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics (like on the MacBook, and should be more than enough for playing some light gaming or watching some videos online), 2 GB of RAM, FaceTime webcam (more on this soon), a high res 1366 x 768 screen (read: very, very high quality for that screen size and should make everything look nice and clear) and 64 GB of solid state storage. That last part is the biggest thing here– as solid state storage (also known as SSD for solid state drive, or flash memory like those found on the iPhone, iPad and iTouch) is not only quicker and more energy-efficient than traditional hard drives, but it also takes up much less space than the traditional hard drive. Why is this so big? Well, this smaller space not only allows for a slimmer design, but also for a bigger battery, which the MacBook Air definitely packs. The 11.6 inch model has what Apple calls “real world” usage of 5 hours or to be in sleep mode for 30 days (yes, days). While not the 10 hours the MacBook gets, this ain’t too bad either.
The 13.3 inch MacBook Air starts at $1,299 with the same FaceTime webcam, 2 GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce 320M, slick new design (with the SD card slot), faster 1.86 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and 128 GB of solid state storage. It also offers an Apple “real world” battery life of 7 hours, which is also pretty impressive even though it’s still a little shy of the 10 hours of the MacBook.
Will it replace the MacBook?
Clearly this is a little underpowered compared to the most recent MacBook specs wise, as the MacBook offers that better battery, a more powerful 2.4 GHZ processor and a 250 GB hard drive. Here’s the question though– if you’re looking for a new Mac under $1000 would you rather get the aluminum, sleeker, 11.6 inch Air or the slightly more powerful 13.3 inch white plastic MacBook? If I were looking for a new Mac, particularly if I was looking for something easy to take everyday to school, I would seriously consider the Air. Not only is it more portable, but offers pretty much all of the features AND looks a lot cooler too.
Think of it this way, the new MacBook line would have the Air as the cheaper, more portable line and the Pro as the high-end line for those that want more power. The plastic MacBook doesn’t need to disappear, it could become the cheapest of the MacBook line with a price cut– I just see that as less likely considering how Apple’s always been with MacBook pricing (though if it were even $800 or $900 then it would become THE go to Apple laptop).
What do you think– if you were looking for a new MacBook today and were deciding between the $999 MacBook and the new $999 Air which would you choose? You think Apple will lower the price of the plastic MacBook now that the Air starts at $999? Let us know in the comments.
The new MacBook Airs are available now from Apple.