OVERVIEW: Apple’s New MacBook Air & Mac OS X Lion

Apple has announced the release of its thinnest and lightest Mac laptop yet with a lot of borrowed features replicated from the iPhone and iPad portable devices, at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The new ultra-slim MacBook Air which measures 0.11 inches at its thinnest to 0.68 inches at its rear, comes in two different sizes – a 13.3-inch design and a smaller 11.6-inch version, weighs slightly less than its predecessor and costs about $1299  and $999 respectively. Features include: Mission control, a new desktop-organising app that takes features from Expose (which lets you see all your open and minimised windows in a single click, or clear everything off the desktop at once) and Spaces (which creates a series of virtual desktops) and combines them into a single, unified interface. Then, Launchpad, a full-screen, swipe-able grid of all apps so that users can organise them into separate pages and folders.

The New MacBook Air

Although, the laptops come with a full-size keyboard, the old-style track pad-and-button combo has been replaced with a single, click-able glass track pad in addition to Intel Core 2 Duo processors with speeds up to 1.6GHz along with Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics, stereo speakers, a in-built FaceTime camera for video chats and 7 hours of wireless Web battery life on the 13-inch Air, or 5 hours on the smaller 11.6 version with 30 days of standby time. Furthermore, due to its lack of a DVD player and a hard disk drive (HDD), the devices use flash storage technology ranging from 64GB to 256GB. This makes it run faster than conventional computers and enables it to power up instantly and store data twice as fast.

Rather than using DVDs, software will be installed through a new App Store, similar to the iPhone and iPad’s digital marketplace. Mac Store users will be able to get automatic notification, downloads and installation of app updates. Meanwhile, the digital store can be downloaded to Macs running the newest version of OS X Snow Leopard sometime in the next 90 days.

Mac OS X Lion

Mac OS X LionIn addition to the new MacBook Air, Apple also offered a sneak peek at its new Mac operating system, the Mac OS X Lion, set for release next summer. The new Lion OS borrows some key features from the iPhone and iPad iOS such as a similar presentation of software, full-screen use, focus on touch navigation and the App Store. Furthermore, a new version of the iLife software which is available now for $49 or free with a new Mac. iLife ’11 includes a revamped version of apps such as iPhoto (for photo organising, viewing geo-tagged snapshots and image editing), GarageBand (with “groove matching” that fixes any music tracks that are not in rhythm and “flex time” that lets users stretch out or shorten individual notes) and iMovie (allows creation of different types of movie trailers).

Interested MacBook users can download the Beta version of FaceTime for free from here.

Talking Point

With a user base of over 50 million people, what makes Apple (Mac) stand out from other computer makers?

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