Thursday, 21 July 2011 00:08

Meet Apple's new MacBook Air, Mac Mini and 27-inch display


Apple's long awaited updates to its MacBook Air and Mac Mini have finally been announced, bringing forth Thunderbolt ports, backlit keyboards for the Air and a new 27-inch Thuderbolt-equipped screen to lighten up your life.

At long last, updates for Apple's MacBook Air and Mac Mini have arrived alongside an update to Apple's 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, with both new Macs naturally coming pre-loaded with the also newly released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, with all available to view at Apple's website.

First up is the MacBook Air, coming with the eagerly anticipated backlit keyboard upgrade, faster dual-core Core i5 and i7 processors and Thunderbolt I/O for those who truly feel the need for transfer speed.

Starting at AUD $1099 for an 11.6-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD and a 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor, and $1349 for an 11.6-in model with 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and an upgrade option to a 1.8GHz dual-core Core i7 and a 256GB SSD, the MacBook Air is as svelte and slim as ever.

The 11.6-in model weighs just 1.08kg with 5 hours of battery life and instant-on capabilities, being 0.3-cm thin at its thinnest point and 1.7cm thick at its thickest.

Apple's Worldwide VP of Product Marketing stated: 'Portable, affordable and powerful, MacBook Air is the ultimate everyday notebook. 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.'

The 13-inch MacBook Air starts at AUD $1449 for 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD and a 1.7GHz Core i5, with the next model starting at AUD $1799 for the same processor, 4GB and a 256GB SSD, upgradable to a 1.8GHz Core i7 processor for $100 more, but sadly there's no 512GB SSD option, while this model weighs 1.35kg and has 7 hours of battery life.

Then there's Apple new Mac Mini which also comes with the new Thunderbolt port.

Looking 19.7cm square and 3.6cm slim thanks to there being no DVD burner, it starts at a price pleasing AUD $699 for a 2.3GHz Core i5 dual-core model with 2GB RAM, Intel HD 3000 Graphics and a 500GB hard drive, and a range of upgrade options.

The next model up is a 2.5GHz Core i5 dual-core model with 4GB RAM, a 500GB hard drive and ATI Radeon HD 6630M Graphics for AUD $899, and optinal upgrades.

There's also a quad-core 2.0Ghz Core i7 Mac mini Lion Server edition with 4GB Ram, dual 500GB hard drives and a starting price of AUD $1099 and a range of upgrade options.

Apple's Phil Schiller stated: 'Mac mini delivers the speed and expandability that makes it perfect for the desktop, living room or office. With faster processors, more powerful graphics and Thunderbolt in an incredibly compact, aluminium design, the new Mac mini is more versatile than ever.'

Finally, there's Apple's new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display - please read on to page two.

Apple's last new announcement is a 27-inch Thunderbolt display.

Apple says it's the world's first, and notes that: 'With just a single cable, users can connect a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac to the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display and access its FaceTime camera, high quality audio, and Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt ports.

'Designed specifically for Mac notebooks, the new display features an elegant, thin, aluminium and glass enclosure, and includes a MagSafe connector that charges your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.'

Apple's Phil Schiller states: 'The Apple Thunderbolt Display is the ultimate docking station for your Mac notebook. With just one cable, users can dock with their new display and connect to high performance peripherals, network connections and audio devices.'

Apple's description is worth simply reprinting as follows:

'With a beautiful 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design, the Thunderbolt Display uses IPS technology to provide a brilliant image across an ultra wide 178 degree viewing angle.

'Any Thunderbolt-enabled Mac notebook can dock with the display to quickly and easily create a full-fledged desktop solution.

'The Thunderbolt Display includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera for crisp video conferencing, a 2.1 speaker system for high quality audio, an integrated MagSafe charger to keep Mac notebooks charged, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.'

Apple says its new display 'will be available within the next 60 days through the Apple Store (, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorised Resellers for a recommended retail price (RRP) of AUD$1,199 inc GST', and notes that it 'requires a Mac with a Thunderbolt I/O port.'

So'¦ new MacBook Airs, new Mac minis and a new Thunderbolt display have arrived, with only the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 to arrive, unless Apple decides to shock with an early iPad 3 release, something I don't personally expect until 2012.

Apple's end-of-year line-up is nearly complete, however, awaiting only the next iPhones and iPod Touch, nano and other iPod models to arrive, likely guaranteeing Apple a big boost of new Mac and iDevice users, with Microsoft's Windows 8 still likely at least a year away from widely launching to the world.

2011 may well be the year of the iPad 2, but it should be the year of plenty more Mac sales, too!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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