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As expected, Apple introduced a number of new products on Wednesday, including Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, refreshed MacBook Airs and Mac minis, and a Thunderbolt I/O-enabled LED Cinema Display, dubbed the (what else?) Thunderbolt Display.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion has been widely anticipated for quite some time. It was first introduced at the “Back to the Mac” keynote in October 2010. The Apple website says there are over 250 new or changed features in Lion. It’s a $29.99 upgrade, available as a download the Mac App Store.
Those who don’t have broadband can walk into an Apple store and use their broadband, Apple said in a press release (but really, you could also head over to Starbucks or McDonald’s). You definitely don’t want to try to download 4GB of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on a 56K modem.
The MacBook Air was refreshed on Wednesday as well, with the changes we were expecting: Intel Sandy Bridge processors, Thunderbolt I/O, and the return of the backlit keyboard (which was removed, for some reason, from the 2010 models).
One important point is that the new MacBook Air’s design description on Apple’s website now says “And because we place the flash chips directly on the logic board, they take up much less space.” It sounds like the SSDs are no longer user-upgradeable. It’s already known that, just as before, system RAM is soldered directly on the motherboard, so RAM, in addition to storage, is also not user-upgradeable.
[Update: iFixit tore down a new MacBook Air, and it does not have the SSD chips soldered to the motherboard.]
All the new MacBook Airs have Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics. The 11-inch models sport 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processors, and the 13-inch models have 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5 processors. The higher end 11-inch and 13-inch versions can be upgraded to 1.8Ghz dual-core Core i7 processors. The 13-inch models also have an SD card slot, which the 11-inch models are missing.
- 11-inch, 64GB SSD, 2 GB RAM; $999
- 11-inch, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM; $1,199
- 13-inch, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM; $1,299
- 13-inch, 256GB SSD, 4GB RAM; $1,599
The Mac minis also get an upgrade to Sandy Bridge processors, Thunderbolt I/O, but they lose something in the translation: no more optical drives.
- Base, 2.3Ghz Intel dual-core Core i5 processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics, 500GB hard drive, 2GB RAM; $599
- Upgraded, 2.5Ghz Intel dual-core Core i5 processor, AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics, 500GB hard drive, 4GB RAM; $799
- Server, 2.0Ghz Intel quad-core Core i7 processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics, dual 500GB 7200-rpm hard drives, 4GB RAM; $999
Available upgrades include 256GB SSDs, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 2.7GHZ dual-core Core i7 on the $799 variant.
Finally, the Thunderbolt Display has a 27-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, LED backlit screen, with a built-in FaceTime HD camera, 2.1 speaker system, integrated MagSafe charger for MacBooks, three USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and one Thunderbolt I/O port to allow daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.
Naturally, it works with existing HDMI, DVI and VGA adapters, but if you have a Thunderbolt port, you’ll be able to run two external displays simultaneously. Currently, however, it’s backordered, with current shipping estimates of 6-8 weeks.
All the other new Apple hardware announced today is available now, shipping within 24 hours.
One piece of news that you may not like: along with these new and updated computers, there is one computer that got the axe today: the white MacBook. That’s right, there’s only Air and Pro, no more plain old MacBook. Farewell.