Apple called the new MacBook Air the next generation of MacBooks, mainly due to its bold move to replace hard disk with build-in flash storage. This is not a SSD based removable storage, but something more akin to fixed flash storage as in iPad or iPhone. We expect MacBook and MacBook Pro refreshes in 2011 will follow suit. The reason for the flash storage is to achieve instant-on, we believe Apple will enhance further the instant on feature with Mac OS X Lion, the next version of Mac OS X due summer 2011.
MacBook Air does not have an optical drive. Apple build DVD/CD Sharing utility within Mac OS X to allow you to borrow the optical drive of nearby Mac or PC wirelessly. This is the way for you to reinstall OS X or application on a DVD/CD. The new MacBook Air comes with a Software Reinstall Drive, an USB drive that allows you to reinstall Mac OS X. We believe MacBook/MacBook Pro in 2011 will not have optical drive. It is just a matter of time before the CD is killed. Apple is likely the major PC vendor that takes the lead.
One notable software changes for MacBook Air is that Adobe Flash plugin is not installed by default. For many years, Mac has always come with Adobe Flash plugin preloaded. To get Flash content working on the MacBook Air, install the Flash Player from Adobe. This is a sign that Apple no longer support Flash plugin on the Mac, it is likely that Flash plugin will also be missing in Mac OS X Lion.
The new MacBook Air has a higher resolution than previous model, better CPU and graphical processor. It has 2 USB ports compared with only one USB port in last generation MacBook Air. The 13.3 inch has an SD-card reader which is missing in the 11.6 inch model. One downgrade from previous MacBook Air is there is no backlit for the keyboard.
All in all, the new MacBook Air is a much more attractive package. Apple has a hit here, much needed to position MacBook Air as possible MacBook/MacBook Pro alternative for buyers, rather than a very niche notebook.