Last October, Apple's 11-inch MacBook Air debuted. The tiny, slim ultraportable was the smallest laptop Apple had ever made. Its combination of size and power earned it a four-star review, with caveats: it had a last-generation Core 2 Duo processor, lacked a backlit keyboard, and omitted an SD card slot. We're glad to find the newly released, back-to-school-timed 2011 MacBook Air update fixes two of our three complaints, while keeping a $999 starting price.
Apple unveiled its new Thunderbolt-enabled, 27-inch display today, aptly named Apple Thunderbolt Display. As CNET's resident monitor dude and having reviewed the Cinema Display, released last year, I was curious as to just what differences we can expect between the two monitors, beyond the inclusion of Thunderbolt, of course.
What's the same? First, there are a few things that have carried over from the Cinema Display to its Thunderbolt counterpart. The display's basic chassis design seems to have been kept pretty much intact, with the same smooth aluminum finish, 20-degree back tilt, and wide "duck foot&… Read more
With today's Mac and display updates in the can, Apple is just one machine away from having Thunderbolt across the line. That's the new speedy port that brings high-speed input/output to storage devices, displays, and other data hungry peripherals, topping what's available through USB 3.0 or Firewire 800 in theoretical transfer speed (see CNET's FAQ).
So far the number of gadgets that can make use of the nascent technology are few. In fact, it took months after Thunderbolt's introduction in Apple's MacBook Pro line earlier this year for the first purchasable Thunderbolt cable … Read more
At first blush, today's changes would seem to be business as usual for the technology giant, which has built massive success off cyclical updates to its products. But behind the scenes the changes represent a carefully crafted strategy in how the company presents its products to customers, as well as getting its machines more tightly connected to its various digital storefronts. Read on to find out what's new.
New operating system First things first, there's Lion, the latest version of Apple's Mac OS. The new software is the seventh major revision of Mac OS X, and an upgrade to Apple's Snow Leopard OS which came out in late 2009.
Apple is advertising Lion as having more than 250 new features, with some of the biggest ones being touches brought over from iOS, the system software that powers Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad. That includes things like an icon-based application launcher, and multitouch gestures that make the OS feel more like an iPhone or iPad when interacting with onscreen content using a multitouch trackpad.
There are also full-screen applications--something Microsoft's Windows has had for years, but Apple's taken a slightly different approach with--making use of the multitouch trackpad to let users switch back and forth between full-screen apps, almost like pages of a magazine. Apple plans to bring identical behavior to iPad apps with a software update in the fall. … Read more
Roku adds motion-sensing gaming to its streaming media box, Sonos offers a lower cost, wireless Hi-Fi speaker system called the Play 3, and Apple unleashes Mac OS X Lion, updates MacBook Air and Mac Mini, and releases a Thunderbolt Display.
Links from Wednesday's episode of Loaded:
Roku 2 gets motion-sensing video gaming
Lower-cost, Sonos Play 3 networked, wireless speakers
Google adds malware warning to search
[Update: We've added First Look videos for both MacBooks. The 13-inch MacBook Air video is above, the 11-inch MacBook Air video is just below. ]
As with most Apple products, the MacBook Air has moved into an annual update cycle, taking it from the original niche product version to its new perch as Apple's mainstream laptop. And make no mistake about it, with the quiet discontinuation of the basic $999 white MacBook, the 11-inch Air (and to a lesser extent, the more expensive 13-inch version) is now considered the entry point for potential Apple laptop buyers.
Is the MacBook Air the new mainstream MacBook?
The White MacBook is dead. The cheaper, plastic $999 legacy to iBooks and PowerBooks of old has finally been removed from the spectrum of Apple laptops, and suddenly the decision spectrum has narrowed to two choices: the MacBook Pro, and the thinner MacBook Air, updated this morning with a faster processor and preinstalled with OSX Lion.
The MacBook Air has walked an interesting path since 2008, first as a high-end executive plaything, then a more attainable but still specialty interest ultraportable. Last year's MacBook Airs debuted in October, well after back-to-school shopping.
Related links First impressions: Apple's new Mac Mini Mac OS X Lion review: A worthy upgrade for the price Apple unveils first Thunderbolt display for $999 Apple quietly discontinues white MacBook Apple updates MacBook Air, Mac Mini
A $999 MacBook still remains; the 11-inch Air's base model costs the same as that older white MacBook. Its 1.6GHz Core i5 processor feels far zippier than last year's Air, but its limited storage (64GB of flash memory) presents a limit to hold-everything-on-your-hard-drive people. On first boot-up, 48GB of drive space was free to use, which limits what you'd permanently keep on your computer. That 64GB of storage can be expanded up to 256GB at the time of purchase, but that drives the price up, too, by several hundred dollars.
Or, does that matter anymore?… Read more
Whither the optical drive? Apple has introduced the high-speed Thunderbolt port and a welcome CPU update to its latest iteration of the Mac Mini desktop, but the absent DVD burner in the newest model may stall purchases from those who like the Mac Mini chiefly as a home theater PC. While most software, and many movies are available for direct download, this move effectively out-modes the DVD collection of anyone interested in using the new Mac Mini in the living room.
For those who want to use the Mac Mini as a more traditional computer, the new software and hardware features will have more appeal. Buyers should welcome the update to Apple's new, well-reviewed OS X Lion operating system. The new, second-generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPU updates should also help the Mac Mini stay competitive in terms of performance.
The benefits of the Mac Mini's new Thunderbolt port will be less obvious to consumers. Apple's new Thunderbolt Display can of course take advantage of the new port, but other Thunderbolt devices are either more specialized, like the $2,000 2TB Pegasus RAID array, or have yet to materialize. The updated $999 server edition of the Mac Mini fits logically with products like the Pegasus array. Buyers of the standard Mac Minis may have a harder time putting Thunderbolt to immediate use, but they can at least be thankful that Apple didn't add Thunderbolt at the expense of the HDMI port.… Read more
Apple has unveiled what it calls the "world's first Thunderbolt display."
As one might expect, the 27-inch display allows users to connect their Macs via Thunderbolt. According to Apple, the display is designed for Mac notebook users who want a larger screen and extra ports to connect to additional peripherals.
The Thunderbolt-equipped display comes with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a 178-degree viewing angle. Its built-in camera allows users to engage in HD FaceTime video conferencing. The display also comes with a 2.1-speaker audio system built-in and a MagSafe charger to power up the Mac notebooks. Three USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port are also included. According to Apple, users will be able to daisy-chain up to five other Thunderbolt devices with the display.… Read more
Apple's 27-inch LED cinema display could soon be joining a host of other Apple products that support the higher-speed Thunderbolt technology.
MacRumors has picked up on a number of non-posted images from Apple.com depicting the company's $999 display. In the pics, the display sports a new part number (in the URL), and a newer background to match the default of Mac OS X Lion, which is expected to be released next week.
The part number is the same one that was previously believed to be a newer version of Apple's white, entry-level MacBook from a purported parts list that surfaced earlier this week.
It's worth pointing out that there are no images of the back of the display. The current model sports just three USB 2.0 ports, but no mini-Displayport, which has given way to Thunderbolt in other Mac models. However, another image--with what appear to be two of the newer display models (pictured above)--depicts one of the displays plugging into the other.… Read more