Apple has released several big updates to its hardware and flagship operating system this morning. One of these updates comes in the form of an incredibly thin MacBook Air with more muscle under the hood and Thunderbolt support. The new MacBook Air is such a giant upgrade that it appears to have knocked the traditional MacBook off the Apple Store completely.
The new MacBook Air features latest-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, which are a significant step up from the Core 2 Duo “Penryn” processors found in the late-2010 models. In fact, Apple boasts that the new CPU has up to 2.5 times the amount of processing performance of the previous generation released less than a year ago. This is a common claim by Apple for new models, so we’ll have to wait for the new Airs to make their rounds to find out for sure.
The new MacBook Airs also feature a Thunderbolt I/O port for connecting external displays, hard drives, or other Thunderbolt-supported devices that require a high amount of data transfer speed. At the moment, Thunderbolt devices aren’t as prolific as the present USB 2.0 or upcoming (and slightly slower) USB 3.0 standard.
Other features of the new MacBook Air include: backlit keyboard, multi-touch trackpad, stereo speakers, FaceTime camera, and a high-resolution display.
The battery inside the MacBook Air hasn’t changed much in this refresh. At 5-7 hours of expected battery life, it’s certainly capable of getting you through a meeting or two without needing to be plugged in. Standby mode is expected to allow the MacBook Air to remain uncharged for up to 30 days and still open in an instant.
Each Air comes with a Thunderbolt port, two USB ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone on the left side. If you opt for the slightly larger 13-inch MacBook Air, you’ll have an additional SD card slot for extra storage or quick transfer from your digital camera.
Overall, the 2011 MacBook Air lineup appears to be ready for the age of Lion. Should Thunderbolt enabled hardware become suddenly available en masse, it appears capable of handling that as well. In any case, Apple’s mid-2011 MacBook Air lineup looks to be a strong step forward for the previously underpowered line of ultra-thin notebooks.