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Apple Announces Two New MacBook Air Models with Solid State Storage

MacBook Air preview

As expected from multiple leaks and rumors over the past week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage in Cupertino this morning at the company’s “Back to the Mac” event to take the wraps off not one but two new MacBook Air models.

Following a flurry of product announcements at today’s “Back to the Mac” media event in Cupertino, including iLife ’11, FaceTime for the Mac and a preview of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, Apple CEO Steve Jobs asked the question, “What would happen if an iPad and a MacBook hooked up?” to a round of laughter from the crowd.

At only 2.9 pounds, the new 13.3-inch MacBook Air borrows from many of the iPad’s key features, including the ability to instantly start up, offering great battery life, amazing standby time, solid state storage with no optical or hard drives and thinner and lighter than ever. The laptop is a mere 0.68 inches at its thickest and 0.11 inches at its thinnest, or as MacLife.com editor Roberto Baldwin put it, “The stabbiest Mac ever.” (Though we obviously don’t condone its use in that manner.)

The 13.3-inch MacBook Air features an LED backlit display with 1440 x 900 pixels, 1.86 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA GeForce 320m graphics, full-size keyboard, a multitouch trackpad and a FaceTime camera.

Perhaps the biggest news is that the laptop contains no optical drive or hard drive, instead using on-board solid state storage for rapid, instant-on use. Apple claims that using the same type of storage already featured in the iPad will be up to twice as fast, more reliable and 90 percent smaller and lighter.

The solid state storage also has another positive side effect, with an increase in both standby and use times on the new MacBook Air. Apple claims up to seven hours of wireless web use and a whopping 30 days — yes, a full month! — of standby time.

Proving once again that rumors can often be fact, Apple is also offering an 11.6-inch model for the MacBook Air which weighs in at only 2.3 pounds with a 1366 x 768 pixel display and 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, plus all of its big brother’s other features. The 11.6-inch model also features 30 days of standby time with a reduced five hours of wireless web use, presumably because of the smaller battery.

Both models include standard features such as 802.11n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers and a large on-board battery, which in keeping with recent Apple laptops, is not user-replaceable.

The 11.6-inch MacBook Air starts at 9 with 64GB (99 for 128GB) while the 13.3-inch model starts at 99 with 128GB and is also available with 256GB for 99. Both models are shipping today.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Cult of Mac Suggests New MacBook Air Refresh is Imminent

There’s independent confirmation from Cult of Mac that Steve Jobs will be introducing a redesigned 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Air with a bigger battery and another port…or two or three.

Cult of Mac’s information comes after repeated reports from technology websites detailing spy shots and particular patents that suggest a refresh to the wafer-thin computer is on its way.

Apparently, the new model also has a faster processor, a 50-percent bigger battery, and is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The model will also come with two USB ports, an SD card slot and a Mini DisplayPort adapter. The new machine may also cost anywhere from ,100 to ,400 for the respective models.

Well, we’ll find out Wednesday if Cult of Mac’s information is, indeed, on par with Apple’s plans for the MacBook Air. Tell us readers: would you be open to the idea of a MacBook Air refresh? Do you think this one will do better than the latter model?

Cult of Mac’s mock up of the new MacBook Air

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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Rumor: Apple Plans Proprietary SSD Storage for New 11.6-Inch MacBook Air

MacBook Air mockups
(Image courtesy of MacRumors and AppleInsider)

As the work week winds down and speculation swirls about Wednesday’s “Back to the Mac” event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, a new rumor has surfaced with at least one possibility on the hardware front.

MacRumors is reporting that Apple is hard at work on a new MacBook Air to be unveiled at the media event coming next Wednesday, October 20. According to AppleInsider, reports dating back several months point to a smaller display — 11.6 inch versus the current 13.3 inch, seen at left in the product mockup above. The product refresh may already be in manufacturing, suggesting it may be available immediately after the announcement on Wednesday.

The biggest piece of news in this rumor claims that Apple may finally be taking a bold step in skipping a traditional hard drive and even current solid state drive technology by employing a proprietary “SSD Card” — essentially embedded storage similar to that used in today’s iPhone, iPod and iPad.

“According to this person, the new models will do away with existing options for a conventional hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) in favor something described as an ‘SSD Card’ that lacks a traditional drive enclosure and more closely resembles a stick of RAM, yet is not easily user-replaceable,” the AppleInsider report reveals.

“If accurate, AppleInsider believes the component may be a proprietary SSD drive alternative designed by Apple to be integrated in Macs in a similar manner to the way flash memory is embedded in iPods, iPhones and iPads. This approach would be less expensive than a standard package intended to fit the shape of conventional HD devices, allowing the company to drive down costs and pass the savings on to the consumer.”

A flash-only MacBook Air would have other benefits to the consumer besides cost, not the least of which are much faster boot and wake times, and as impossible as it might seem, an even thinner MacBook Air design.

CNET believes such a computer would be priced “significantly lower” than the current ,499 entry-level price for the MacBook Air, which has kept the laptop from living up to its sales potential. Their sources also claim the new model will keep the current Intel Core 2 Duo processor and feature extended battery life over the existing model.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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MacBook Air Supply Dwindling

All right, everyone out there that’s already rocking a MacBook Air raise your hands. Right. Now, everyone planning on purchasing a MacBook Air in the near future, lets see a show of hands please. Okay then… not that many of you, eh? Still, for those of you that are willing to pay a premium for a smidge more portability than that you could be enjoying with either a 13-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro, we’ve got a tidbit that might be of interest to you: Supplies of the sliver-thin ultra-portable are dwindling at a number of normally well-stocked vendors, such as Amazon, MacMall and MacConnection.

What does it all mean?

Traditionally where Apple’s concerned, a reduction of the number of units available to vendors has pointed to one of two things: Either Apple’s having issues with their suppliers and can’t meet the consumer demand for a given product, or they’re looking to either discontinue or refresh a product line. In this case, we’re betting that with it being October, the sudden scarcity of MacBook Air laptops means that Cupertino’s line of svelte underpowered beauties, will most likely be seeing a bit of an overhaul just in time for the upcoming holiday gift-giving season. It wouldn’t be the first time that Steve Jobs and company have unleashed new toys on us at this time of year. In 2009, we were greeted with news of Apple’s unibody manufacturing technology. Similarly, a year before that, Apple also held a mid-October event to announce the impending arrival of their latest updates to the MacBook line.

Perhaps in the days to come, we’ll find out whether or not the rumors of Apple’s desire to trim down the MacBook Air’s screen to a diminutive 11.6-inch size are true or not. Despite Steve Jobs’ disdain for netbooks, reducing the size of the MacBook Air’s screen real estate could make good sense for Apple. By offering a laptop with a smaller profile that boast the same unibody technology as the rest of their laptops, the Cupertino-based company might well find a niche for those that need the power of a Mac and the size size of a low-rent PC netbook.

If this turns out to be the case, let’s hope that it does at least one thing well.

 

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.

 


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Apple Issues MacBook Firmware Update to Address MagSafe Charging Problems

Apple has issued an SMC Firmware update to address charging problems affecting 2007-2008 MacBooks and MacBook Pros when connected to the new L-shaped MagSafe adapter. Apple switched to the new MagSafe charger after receiving complaints about fraying from the older power bricks that featured a straight plug.

The affected models include: 

– MacBook (13-inch Late 2007)
– MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008)
– MacBook Pro (15-inch Early 2008)
– MacBook (13-inch, Early 2008)
– MacBook (13-inch, Late 2008)

According to Apple, “This firmware update addresses an issue with certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models from 2007-2008 that prevents them from charging with new power adapters.”

You can download the firmware update by opening Software Update on your Mac, or by downloading the standalone installer for the MacBook or the MacBook Pro. You can find out more information about this update by visiting the Apple knowledge base article.

via MacRumors

 

Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.

 

 

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Survey: MacBook Pro #1 with Steam Gamers

It looks as though Apple users, a typically intelligent, tech-savvy and genteel lot (yes, we’re stroking our own egos here,) can add another particular to their growing list of resume foibles: 31337 [email protected]//®. That’s ‘elite gamer’ for all of you out there that don’t hablas l33t speak.

According to a monthly survey conducted by the game mongers at Steam, a growing number of the individuals enjoying their services are doing so on Apple hardware. Over 46% of the Mac gamers accessing Steam’s servers were noted to be using MacBook Pros. The number of individuals getting their pew-pew on with MacBooks and iMacs was almost half of this, with their entries to the survey topping out at 20.25% and 23.18% respectively. The rest of Apple’s computer hardware line fared even worse: Cupertino’s venerable Mac Pro was only able to snag 5.41% of Steam’s Mac traffic, and while the Mac Mini may be the king of a growing number of home theatre systems, the diminutive computer got owned by its Mac cousins, garnering only 3.44% of all Mac traffic on the servers.

While Apple’s most likely thrilled to see so many people getting game on using their hardware, the survey hosted one figure that we’re willing to bet they’re weren’t to happy to see: According to Steam, 96.79% of all users visiting their site on a Mac were still rocking Flash.

If you’re a Steam gamer, join our Mac|Life Steam group and join us every Friday from 4:00PM to 5:00PM PDT for Frag the Editor Friday.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.


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