Tech Report – The new MacBook Air
Apple yesterday unveiled two new versions of its MacBook Air laptop.
original MacBook Air was introduced in January 2008 but it has not sold
as well as Apple would have liked. Although praised for its thin and
lightweight design, it has struggled to find a home between sturdier
workhorses – including its big brother, the MacBook – and the much
cheaper netbooks which flooded the market over the last two years.
Apple senses that an opportunity for a new hybrid category might be
opening up: something between a laptop and a tablet computer. In fact,
Apple CEO Steve Jobs admitted as much when he introduced the new MacBook
Air at yesterday’s press event: “We asked ourselves what would happen
if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up,” he said.
The new MacBook Air
comes in two screen sizes, 11.6-inches and 13.3-inches. They weigh 2.3
pounds and 2.9 pounds respectively. (For comparison purposes, the iPad
weighs 1.5 pounds and the regular MacBook weighs 4.7 pounds.) There is
no optical or hard drive. Instead, like the iPad, the MacBook Air uses
Flash storage. This not only makes it lighter and faster but it “wakes
up” in an instant, with none of the usual power-up delays.
storage is not the only feature borrowed from the iPad. The new MacBook
Air comes with a built-in, all-glass multi-touch trackpad. You can drag,
swipe, pinch, and tap – all the gestures that have become integral to
using the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Interestingly, Apple
decided against adding touch capabilities to the screens of its new
computers, with Jobs suggesting that, unlike the iPad, using touch on a
vertical screen was “ergonomically terrible.”
Another area where
the MacBook Air excels is in battery life. The Apple engineers have used
the absence of a hard drive to add a much larger battery, which
provides up to 5 hours of continuous use on the 11-inch model and up to 7
hours on the 13-inch version.
But the best news of all is the
price. The new MacBook Air starts at $999, which is $500 less than the
starting price of the original. The MacBook Air is available immediately
in Apple stores and online.