Apple releases new MacBook Air, Mac Mini and Thunderbolt Display

Together with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple today unveils new MacBook Air, Mac Mini and Thunderbolt Display.

MacBook Air

macbookair

New MacBook Air sports the same 11.6 inch and 13.3 inch variants, with Intel’s speedy Sandy Bridge Core i5/i7 processor, Thunderbolt I/O, the return of backlit keyboards and Mac OS X Lion. The new MacBook Air is offered the following base configurations:

  • 11.6 inch – 1.6 GHz, 64GB SSD, 2GB RAM, $999
  • 11.6 inch – 1.6 GHz, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, $1199
  • 13.3 inch – 1.7 GHz, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, $1299
  • 13.3 inch – 1.7 GHz, 256GB SSD, 4GB RAM, $1599

MacBook Air homepage

Mac Mini

macmini

The new Mac Mini sports Sandy Bridge processor, Thunderbolt I/O and for the first time drops the internal optical drive in favor of an optional external SuperDrive. The new Mac Mini is available in the following base configurations:

  • Standard model, 2.3 GHz Core i5 processor, 500GB hard drive, 2GB RAM, $599
  • Standard model, 2.5 GHz Core i5 processor, 500GB hard drive, 4GB RAM, $799
  • Server model, 2.0 GHz, dual 500GB hard drives, 4GB RAM, $999

New Mac Mini comes with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Mac Mini homepage

Apple Thunderbolt Display

thunderboltdissplay

Apple unveils a new 27-inch display called Apple Thunderbolt Display, which has similar appearance to LED Cinema Display but sports Thunderbolt I/O port. With Thunderbolt I/O, it is now possible to drive two displays off a single Thunderbolt port. The highspeed I/O also turns the display into a “docking station” for Mac notebook as the Thunderbolt Display has built-in FaceTime HD camera, three USB ports, one Firewire 800 port, 2.1 speaker system, one Gigabit Ethernet port and a second Thunderbolt I/O to enable daisy chaining. It also includes a MagSafe connector for charging a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

“The Apple Thunderbolt Display is the ultimate docking station for your Mac notebook,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.” With just one cable, users can dock with their new display and connect to high performance peripherals, network connections and audio devices.”

Apple Thunderbolt Display will be available within next 60 days at $999.

Apple Thunderbolt Display homepage

What to expect next week: Mac OS X Lion, new MacBook Air, Mac Pro and LED Cinema Display

This is a rumor roundup of what can we expect from Apple next week:

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

A Gold Master (GM) build of Mac OS X Lion is delivered to Apple developers July 1 and Apple has publicly mentioned that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will release in July. Apple has also started accepting Lion apps into its Mac App Store starting this week July 13, suggesting a public release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is very near.

LED Cinema Display

Picture of  a MacBook Pro connected to two LED Cinema Displays daisy-chained via Thunderbolt suggested great possibility of a refresh of LED Cinema Displays sporting Thunderbolt connectors.

Mac Pro

The last Mac Pro refresh happened on August 2010. It’s about time for a refresh as the current Mac Pro is sporting the last generation Intel CPUs and lacks the high speed Thunderbolt ports expected in high-end Macs. All signs point to a debut of new Mac Pro together with Thunderbolt equipped LED Cinema Display.

MacBook Air

There has been rumors of a MacBook Air refresh ever since Intel debut its Sandy Bridge processor beginning this year. The last AirBook Air refresh was October 2010. Many expect the new MacBook Air to sport the latest Sandy Bridge processor, bigger RAM and disk, Thunderbolt port and backlit keyboard.

Apple solves MacBook Air display issue with EFI firmware updates

Apple has issued an EFI firmware update for the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air. The MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.0 solved the issue where MacBook Air boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive.

This update resolves a rare issue where MacBook Air boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive. This update is recommended for all 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air (late 2010) models.

The MacBook Air EFI Update will update the EFI firmware on your notebook computer. Your computer’s power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source. When your MacBook Air restarts, a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update. It will take several minutes for the update to complete. Do not disturb or shut off the power on your MacBook Air during this update.

First MacBook Air benchmark might help you choose the right model

macbook-air Benchmark

Primate Labs, the creator of Geekbench software, has published one of the first benchmarks of the new MacBook Air. The benchmark measures only processor and memory performance, and compared them with last generation MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13″ model and iPad. The use of NVIDIA GeForce 320M video card and flash storage in the new MacBook Air is expected to offer significant overall performance improvements, but processor and memory performance gives a different perspective on the positioning of the new MacBook Air.

There are two ways you can look at the new 11-inch MacBook Air; it’s either a much smaller but slower MacBook Pro, or a much faster but larger iPad. The 11-inch MacBook Air is small enough that I’d consider bringing it instead of an iPad, but I’d worry it’s not fast enough (or have enough screen space) to be my primary laptop.

The 13-inch MacBook Air is a much more straightforward produc; it has 80% of the processor performance of the latest 13-inch Pro, making it an acceptable substitute for users looking for a slightly more portable Pro.

Via Primate Labs Blog

Apple posts first software update for new MacBook Air

Apple has posted the first software update for the freshly released MacBook Air. The software patch can be installed via the normal Software Update on the new MacBook Air.

MacBook Air (Late 2010) Software Update 1.0 resolves an issue where a MacBook Air (Late 2010) computer may become unresponsive while playing back movie trailers in iMovie. The update also addresses an issue where the computer may become unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display is connected and also contains general graphics performance updates.

MacBook Air (Late 2010) Software Update 1.0

What’s new in MacBook Air

New MacBook Air

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.

 

Will Apple release a netbook?

Apple just reported yet another record breaking quarter, with $1.21b profit on revenues of $8.16b. Apple easily surpassed expectation and we do not see the economy having any significant impact to its bottom line.

Again, during the the financial conference call with analysts and members of the media, Apple played down the prospect of an Apple netbook on the horizon, echoing what Steve Jobs said earlier this year.

When I’m looking at what’s sold in the Netbook market, I see cramped keyboards, junky hardware, very small screens, bad software. Not a consumer experience that we would put the Mac brand on. As it exists today, we’re not interested in it nor would it be something customers would be interested in the long term. We are looking at the space. For those who want a small computer that does browsing/email, they might want an iPhone or iPod Touch. If we find a way to deliver an innovative product that really makes a contribution, we’ll do that.

There are lots of rumors on Apple releasing a netbook. Will Apple release a netbook? That depends what is your definition of a netbook. If netbook means a portable notebook at less than $400, then Apple is not going to release one if price defines the category. By labeling netbook as junky, Apple is trying to distance itself from this market.

We are predicting Apple will release a portable notebook with a touch screen of 10 to 12 inch, with builtin 3G and a design along the MacBook Air range. It will be a dream machine for those who crave for a ‘tugged along’ anywhere Mac and priced about $1000. Just do not call it a netbook.