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New MacBook Air Notebooks Use Flash Memory


New MacBook Air Notebooks Use Flash Memory

At a special event “Back to the Mac” this evening at its California headquarters, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled an updated Macbook Air – but the big surprise is that there are two of them.

The new Macbook Air is now available in 13.3in and 11.6in screen sizes, and Jobs referred to them at the launch as, “the future of notebooks”.

The 13.3in model has a 1,440 x 900 LED backlit display and is just 0.68in at its thickest point and tapers down to a 0.11in. It weighs 1.32Kg. The 11in model has a display resolution of 1,366 x 768.

Jobs described the new computers as a cross between a Macbook and the iPad, a claim made possible by the use of Flash memory, rather than mechanical or even SSD hard disks. Jobs said the Macbook Air 13.6in offered instant on, and seven hours of web connected battery life and an astonishing 30 days of standby. The 11.6in model can last for five hours away from the mains.

The 11.6in model will come in either 64GB or 128GB storage flavours, for £849 and £999 and the 13.3in model in either 128GB and 256GB options for £1,099 and £1,148.09 respectively.

The notebooks are made of a Unibody construction which should make it very durable. Both models are powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, running at 1.86GHz for the larger model and 1.4GHz for the smaller. Both sport NVIDIA GeFore 320m graphics and a multi-touch trackpad. A webcam is included, now dubbed as a Facetime camera, and this is now interoperable with Facetime on the iPhone 4.

Both models are available immediately from the Apple store.

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October 21, 2010, 12:30 am

Didn't Steve Jobs say a few years ago when Apple released the MacBook Air that the reason they made it 13 inches is that any smaller and it would compromise the screen and keyboard?

He trashed the Vaio TZ series and now all of a sudden they release an 11 inch Air?

What a hypocrite.


October 21, 2010, 1:01 am

Or he's seen the popularity of netbooks and produced an Apple (high end, high price) version, just in case the ipad fad wears off. At first I thought the 11.6 would be interesting, but at that weight, I think the 13.3 would be the one. Nice to seem them fleshing out the range a little.

The Doctor

October 21, 2010, 1:06 am

The exact moment is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

But to paraphrase Malcolm Tucker "He did not say 'compromise', you may have heard him say that, but he did not say that, and that is a fact"


October 21, 2010, 1:10 am

Now the question is raised: why can I not get that display on a 13.3in MacBook Pro?

Carl Abudephane

October 21, 2010, 1:17 am

Same old story, drop a few apple pieces and wait for the flies.


October 21, 2010, 1:28 am

Every word that comes out of Jobs' mouth is marketing.


October 21, 2010, 1:29 am

I'm glad they've made an attempt to bring the MacBook Air pricing in line - it was just ridiculous before whereas now it's mildly tolerable. That said, this ominous £849 pricepoint and the constant promise that the Air is a preview of things to come for their main notebook line tells us one thing - they really have contempt for that white plastic MacBook. It's days are numbered. That's a shame for several reasons :

1 - Killing optical drives is still terribly premature in my opinion. (Nothing beats the convenience of video on a disc over streaming solutions);

2 - Moving exclusively to flash storage is still prohibitively small and expensive. That capacity may be just about fine for a tablet but as soon as I get to a laptop, 64GB and even 128GB just doesn't cut it. I want to be able to hold a decent library of audio and video... unless it's a netbook, and as we've all been told repeatedly this is NOT a netbook. (11 inches is a debatable size in that respect.)

Still on the plus side :

1. At least the added that badly needed second USB,

2. The SD slot is welcome.

3. It's nice to have a choice between 16:9 and 16:10 ratios.

All in all, I'm a little disappointed with the Back to the Mac event. We got a new iLife, a look at an OS that's still half a year away, and only one laptop refresh. And does anyone else get the feeling that this inevitable merging of iOS and OS X, and the saving of the name Lion until now, is spelling the last iteration of OS X altogether?


October 21, 2010, 1:39 am

Bit of a mixed bag. No doubt it looks gorgeous but what is it with the tiered upgrades? They've positioned the 11.6" as the low end choice and the better spec is limited to the 13.3". Why?!!!

@The Doctor

Love the link. Sets us up nicely for next year's 7" iPad!


October 21, 2010, 2:15 am

Not as good as the Sony Z series now though ;)


October 21, 2010, 3:47 am

I like the 11.6" model. Sure, it's pricey but as a flash gadget this knocks the stuffing out of the iPad and instantly makes it look like a clumsy, pointless toy.


October 21, 2010, 10:55 am


I'm actually pleased they dropped the optical drive. I purchased a 13.3 MBP recently and I thought at the time that the air was overpriced and underpowered, but I really wanted a MBP with no drive. I never use it and it just adds weight and bulk, for me at least no drive is a good thing.

Not sure about this IOS OSX merging, I'll give it time and see what Lion looks like.


October 21, 2010, 11:26 am

They look perfect for the Mac user on the go! What more can you want? Ok, a backlit keyboard would have been nice, WWAN even nicer, but other than that - it's about as good as people can realistically hope for.

Digital Fury

October 21, 2010, 12:17 pm

Needed something like this for my mom, and it makes a nice X-Mas gift. :-)

Still not as good as Sony's units, and the lack of a backlit for the keyboard is kind of a inexplicable bummer. The reinstall of the OS on a stick is nice though.


October 21, 2010, 1:07 pm

Have to say this is the first apple product for ages I've been properly tempted by - would go for the 13.3 version I think. Will just have to wait for the review to see if the performance is useable. Of course if TR are as mean about this one as the last Air then they may not get sent a review sample!

Would have liked backlit keyboard as well - maybe they trying to keep the battery life up as high as possible - but then I don't know what some keyboard lights actually draw in terms of power.


October 21, 2010, 3:55 pm

Had no idea the keyboard wasn't backlit. That just crept up on me. I naturally assumed it was since the previous Airs had one. Another really annoying omission. I can see the case for losing it on the 11 but not the 13. Besides, having to whack up the screen brightness to illuminate the keys will probably drain more battery life than if they just included one.


October 21, 2010, 8:32 pm

The previous Air also had a well designed flap that covered the sockets. On the new Air, the visible sockets spoil the case line, and the wedge shape isn't working for me yet.


October 21, 2010, 10:13 pm

@The Doctor: Back in 2008, I did a double-take when he described a 12-inch display as a "compromise". It wasn't that long since Apple had been selling the much-loved 12.1-inch Powerbook G4. I'm guessing he was referring to the combination of underclocked processor, small screen and non-full sized keyboard as a 'compromise.' But who knows? A lot of what he says in his keynotes is mainly intended to rally the troops.

I'm most intrigued by the use of Flash storage in the new Air. That should really boost startup times, and overall might just make this a rather interesting travel laptop for the sort of crowd who use Macs.


October 22, 2010, 12:09 am

Flash rather than SSD what does that mean? isn't SSD a Type of flash memory?


October 22, 2010, 1:23 am


I think it's just a fancy way of highlighting that the flash chips aren't put inside a drive enclosure. Apart from saving space I'm not sure what advantage this has. Is there any real world performance increase from soldering the chips straight on to the board? It seems like an easier way for Apple to dictate how much storage you buy from them, bypassing people who are confident in bypassing Apple's premium by swapping an SSD out themselves for a cheaper, bigger one.


October 22, 2010, 3:01 am

@gazbarber: It has the same NAND Flash innards as an SSD. It's not soldered to the board, and so should be user-replacable, except you'll need a Security Torx screwdriver (and if Apple's used a patented proprietary connector, there may not be any third party replacements). As I understand it, the difference as compared to a standard SSD is that this particular Flash storage does away with the SATA interface, and instead slots directly into the motherboard. The main advantage of this is that it should eliminate SATA latency problems (like Robson, but without Robson's limitations). I'm not sure the 30-day standby with "instant-on" would have been possible with a SATA-2 interface.

Pendejo Sin Nombre

October 22, 2010, 10:59 am

"Apart from saving space I'm not sure what advantage this has. Is there any real world performance increase from soldering the chips straight on to the board?"


It's not soldered to the board -



October 22, 2010, 4:46 pm

@ Pendejo Sin Nombre

Oh. Thanks. And bang goes my theory as it says it's easily user replaceable providing you've prepared for getting to the Torx T5 screws. iFixit is a really good site though.


October 24, 2010, 11:41 pm

I caved it and ordered the 13" MBA! I'm so weak!


October 25, 2010, 4:14 pm

caved in*

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