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Will Cloud-Based Services Bolster MacBook Air Storage Space?

Flash-based storage is expensive. The average user’s file collection is expansive. With this being the case, will the MacBook Air, a device that Steve Jobs has called the future of notebooks, be able to stand up to the hype Apple’s built around it? In a word, maybe. Much of the refreshed line of diminutive notebook’s success, as well as the success any other SSD-based hardware, may teeter upon whether or not Apple has an ace up their sleeve.

According to the thoughtful folks over at All Things Digital, the Cupertino-based company may be planning to tackle the issues surrounding the current high cost of Solid State Drive technology with the enormous 500,000 square foot data center they’ve been building in North Carolina. That amount of property represents one heck of a lot of storage space. Were Apple to make the data center’s storage space available to consumers through services similar to MobileMe or, perish the thought, set up a cloud-based streaming service for media-hungry iTunes users, the trouble of having limited hardware-bound storage would become moot.

With the runaway success of cloud-based storage services, such as Dropbox, it’s a pretty good bet that Apple is taking a long hard look at what All Things Digital is suggesting.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 


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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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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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