Apple releases MacBook Air

By Chris Nicholls

LAS VEGAS: Apple has unveiled what it claims is the world’s thinnest notebook, the MacBook Air.

The latest MacBook, revealed at this year’s Macworld conference, measures only 0.4 centimetres at its thinnest point and 1.9 centimetres at its thickest.

It will be available with either a 1.6 or 1.8 gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and has a 13.3-inch LED backlit display, full-size backlit keyboard and iSight built-in camera. It also comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1.

Despite rumours prior to Macworld suggesting a solid state drive to reduce size, the MacBook Air uses the same 80 GB 1.8-inch hard disc as the current iPod Classic. A 64 GB solid state drive is an option but costs US$999. 

The MacBook Air is the first laptop to adopt Apple’s multi-touch features, with a large trackpad that allows the same pinch, swipe and rotate functions as an iPhone or iPod Touch.

“We’ve built the world’s thinnest notebook—without sacrificing a full-size keyboard or a full-size 13-inch display,” said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs.

The new machine also eschews any form of optical drive, with an external DVD super multi drive an AU$139 option. Jobs announced the company’s new Time Capsule remote wireless backup hard drive would serve the same purpose for many.

The Time Capsule will come with an 802.11n wireless modem and will be available in a 500 GB and 1 TB model. It will retail for AU$429 and AU$699 respectively.

“Bring Time Capsule home, plug it in, click a few buttons on your Macs and voila—all the Macs in your house are being backed up automatically, every hour of every day,” said Jobs.

Apple estimates the new machine will deliver up to five hours of use.

Connectivity-wise, the MacBook air comes with a micro-DVI port to allows owners to connect to Apple’s 20- or 23-inch external displays and other devise by using DVI, VGA, Composite and S-video adapters. However, the MacBook Air only comes with one USB 2.0 slot and will have a sealed battery similar to the iPod that will likely require the owner to send the machine back to Apple for replacement.  

The MacBook Air also marks Apple’s first step towards a truly environmentally friendly device, with their first mercury-free LCD display, arsenic-free glass and brominated flame retardant-free material for the “majority of circuit boards”, as well as PVC-free internal cables. Apple claims the MacBook Air is also their most energy-efficient Mac and its box is made primarily from 100 percent recycled material.

The MacBook Air is expected be available in Australia in February for a recommended retail price of AU$2499.


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