New MacBook Airs Get Hit With a Thunderbolt

Apple's brought both sizes of the MacBook Air line straight up to what you'd expect from a laptop in 2011, adding a Thunderbolt port, but more importantly some sweet Sandy Bridge i5 and i7 chips—and backlit keyboards.

The addition of the super-fast Thunderbolt port will future-proof any Thunderbolt-enabled gadgets you purchase in the future, and the backlit keyboard? Well, that's so bloggers can see in the night (in Apple keynotes).

11-inch Air

Three 11-inch models are now on offer, with the starting point being a model with 64GB storage, 2GB of RAM and 1.6GHz processor. The next model up has the same CPU speed, but doubles the RAM to 4GB, along with the storage to 128GB. Lastly, the custom model can be squeezed to an 1.8GHz processor, 4GB RAM and 256GB storage.

13-inch Air

Obviously, the real power belongs to the 13-inch models, with the base model coming with a 1.7GHz processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, and the next level up providing much the same, only with 256GB of storage. The built-to-order model can be outfitted with a 1.8GHz chip.

The MacBook Air 11-inch model starts at $999 (for the 2GB RAM model) and $1199 (for the 4GB RAM model), with the 13-inch models coming in at $1299 (for the 4GB RAM and 128GB storage model) and $1599 for the 4GB RAM and 256GB storage model, with all models going on sale July 21st. If you're strongle considering buying one, Laptop mag has a review of the 11-incher and 13-incher here. [Apple]

CUPERTINO, California-July 20, 2011-Apple® today updated the MacBook Air® with next generation processors, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, a backlit keyboard and Mac OS® X Lion, the world's most advanced operating system. With up to twice the performance of the previous generation, flash storage for instant-on responsiveness and a compact design so portable you can take it everywhere,* the MacBook Air starts at $999 (US) and is available for order today and in stores tomorrow.

"Portable, affordable and powerful, MacBook Air is the ultimate everyday notebook," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "MacBook Air features our most advanced technology and is an ideal match for Lion, especially with its new Multi-Touch gestures, full-screen apps, Mission Control and Mac App Store."

MacBook Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models that easily slip into a briefcase, purse or bag. The MacBook Air's durable aluminum unibody enclosure measures an incredibly thin 0.11-inches at its thinnest point and 0.68-inches at its thickest. Flash storage allows MacBook Air to turn on instantly and deliver fast data access, improved reliability and incredible energy efficiency. The 11-inch model weighs 2.38 pounds and provides up to 5 hours of battery life, while the 13-inch weighs 2.96 pounds and provides up to 7 hours of battery life.**

With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is up to twice as fast as the previous generation and has all the power you need for editing photos and movies, making FaceTime® calls, playing games, and working with documents and presentations. MacBook Air also features Intel HD Graphics 3000 and offers up to 4GB of faster 1333 MHz memory.

Thunderbolt I/O technology provides expansion possibilities never before available to MacBook Air users. Through a single cable, users can connect to high performance peripherals and the new Apple Thunderbolt Display, the ultimate docking station for your Mac® notebook. Thunderbolt can easily be adapted to support legacy connections such as FireWire® and Gigabit Ethernet.

MacBook Air comes with a full size backlit keyboard and an innovative glass Multi-Touch™ trackpad. Designed for comfort and ease of typing, the backlit keyboard uses a sensor to automatically detect a change in ambient lighting and adjusts the keyboard brightness for any environment. The Multi-Touch trackpad supports Lion's new Multi-Touch gestures such as momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps.

MacBook Air also features a brilliant, high resolution LED backlit display that is amazingly thin yet has the resolution of a much larger, bulkier screen. With ultra-fast Wi-Fi, you can wirelessly download apps from the Mac App Store™, get music and movies from iTunes®, back up data to Time Capsule® and quickly and easily share files using AirDrop. MacBook Air includes Bluetooth for wireless peripherals and two USB ports for easy connectivity for the wired and wireless devices you use every day.

Apple makes the industry's greenest notebook lineup and the new MacBook Air meets Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold status.*** Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Every new MacBook Air comes with Mac OS X Lion, the eighth major release of the world's most advanced operating system, and iLife apps for creating and sharing great photos, movies and music. Lion introduces more than 250 new features to the Mac, including Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software, built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

Pricing & Availability
The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are available for order on the Apple Store® (www.apple.com) today and in Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers starting July 21. The 1.6 GHz 11-inch MacBook Air is available in two models, one with 2GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage for a suggested retail price of $999 (US), and one with 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage for $1,199 (US). The 1.7 GHz 13-inch MacBook Air comes in two configurations, one with 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage for a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US), and one with 4GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage for $1,599 (US). Configure-to-order options and accessories include a 1.8 GHz Core i7 processor, additional flash storage, MacBook Air SuperDrive® and a USB Ethernet Adapter.

Additional technical specifications and configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/macbookair.

*Testing conducted by Apple in July 2011 using preproduction MacBook Air configurations. For more information visit www.apple.com/macbookair/features.html.

**The new Wireless Web protocol testing was conducted by Apple in July 2011 using preproduction MacBook Air configurations. Battery life and charge cycles vary by use and settings. For more information visit www.apple.com/macbookair/features.html.

***EPEAT is an independent organization that helps customers compare the environmental performance of notebooks and desktops. For more information visit www.epeat.net.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

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