New, 11.6-inch MacBook Air starts at $999

Not one to disappoint, Steve Jobs unveiled two new MacBook Air notebooks during his Back to the Mac event today: one with a 13.3" display and a smaller derivative with an 11.6" screen. Both machines should be available today, and the cheapest 11.6" model starts at $999 with all-flash storage.

The two systems feature aluminum unibody enclosures, Core 2 Duo processors, GeForce 320M integrated graphics chipsets, at least 64GB of solid-state storage capacity as standard, full-sized keyboards, and glass touchpads. While they look a little more wedge-shaped than their predecessor, these new notebooks are actually thinner and lighter. The new 13.3" MacBook Air weighs 2.9 lbs—about the same as a 10" netbook—and measures only 0.68" at its thickest point (the thinnest part is 0.11"). The 11.6" machine is even lighter at 2.3 lbs.

Apple has made some progress on the connectivity and battery life fronts, too. Both products feature two USB 2.0 ports, single Mini DisplayPort ouputs, and headphone jacks. The 13.3" system adds a card reader to the formula. Apple quotes a maximum of seven hours of wireless web-surfing run time for that offering and five hours for the 11.6" variant. Even display resolutions have improved, to the point where they actually surpass what Apple offers on its MacBook Pros—the 11.6" Air has a 1366x768 display, and its big brother features a 1440x900 panel.

You can purchase the new MacBook Air systems right now on the Apple Store. As we noted, pricing the 11.6" Air with a 1.4GHz processor and 64GB of flash storage starts at $999, while the cheapest 13.3" Air costs $1,299 and features a quicker 1.86GHz CPU with a 128GB SSD. That seems a little expensive to me, especially considering Apple only offers 2GB of memory as standard. Then again, since the previous-gen MacBook Air cost $1,499, I suppose these new prices can be considered an improvement.

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