Apple Updates MacBook Air With Sandy Bridge Processors, Thunderbolt I/O & Backlit Keyboard

Apple on Wednesday updated the MacBook Air with Sandy Bridge Core i processors, ultra high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, a backlit keyboard and Mac OS X Lion. Apple claims up to twice the performance of the previous generation, featuring flash data storage for instant-on responsiveness and the MacBook Air’s famous compact design continued without any major changes. The base MacBook Air starts at $999 and is available now.

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As before, the MacBook Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models with an aluminum unibody enclosure measures 0.11-inches at its thinnest point and 0.68-inches at its thickest. Standard flash storage allows the sloim notebook to turn on virtually instantly and deliver fast data access, improved reliability and better energy efficiency. The 11-inch model weighs 2.38 pounds and provides up to a claimed 5 hours of battery life, while the 13-inch weighs 2.96 pounds and provides up to 7 hours of battery life.**

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With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is claimed to be up to twice as fast as the previous generation. with plenty of power for editing photos and movies, making FaceTime calls, playing games, and working with documents and presentations. A downgrade is that these Sandy Beridge MacBook Airs have Intel HD Graphics 3000 IGPU, which are less powerful than the Nvidia GeForce 320M IGPUs used in the previous generation Core 2 Duo MacBook Airs, but the extra processor speed of the Core i CPUs should compensate and more. As before, the MacBook Airs support up to 4GB of 1333 MHz memory, but any upgrades must be specified as build-to-order options at the time of purchase, and cannot be retro-fitted.

Indeed, it’s a disappointment that the base, $999 11.6″ MacBook Air still comes equipped with just 2 GB of RAM and a and a puny 64 GB SSD, since 4 GB and 128 GB respectively had been specualted in pre-release rumors, especially since Apple quietly terminated the $999 white polycarbonate MacBook yesterday, leaving the $999 Air as the sole offering in that price slot.

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.

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The revised MacBook Air now comes with a full size backlit keyboard and a glass Multi-Touch trackpad. Tthe 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.

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The MacBook Air also features LED backlit displays of 1366 x 768 resolution for the 11.6″ model, and 1440 x 900 for the 13-incher. The New Airs can share files wirelessly with other Macs that support Lion’s AirDrop, and include Bluetooth for wireless peripherals and two USB ports.

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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.

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Every new MacBook Air comes with Mac OS X Lion, the eighth major release of Apple’s OS X operating system, but be aware that if you have favorite or mission-critical applications or utilities that contain Power PC code, the new Airs will not run OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard for retention of Rosetta Power PC emulation.

Also bundeld are iLife apps for creating and sharing 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.

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The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are available for order on the Apple Store ( today. 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: http://

*Testing conducted by Apple in July 2011 using preproduction MacBook Air configurations. For more information visit:

**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:

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

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