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 1366×768 display, and its big brother features a 1440×900 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.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    I think Steve Jobs is a great man (and I admire him for being a visionary and able to establish Apple), but I think his prices are only for his social class.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    I’d love to moan and bitch about the atrocious value, the Apple limitations, the fanatical-yet-blind Apple zealots and the stupid compromises that come with the MacBook air, but I’m tired of doing it.

    There will always be people prepared to pay way over the odds for a limited and under-performing compromise of a product. They sell like hotcakes and even if you don’t like them, it’s hard to argue that they don’t look cool.

    Just because you wouldn’t buy one doesn’t mean you don’t want one.

    • amirol
    • 9 years ago

    wowwwwwwwww.
    Now its time to buy a sub 1000$ rig.

    • Black Jacque
    • 9 years ago

    I’m thinking the 11″ MacBook Air is the “Netbook” to have. 😉

    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    A grand for this? Spare me.

    • sid1089
    • 9 years ago

    So basically, a very expensive Steve Jobs branded Netbook.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Yes because this thing has an Atom. Wait, what?

    • puppetworx
    • 9 years ago

    Neither a subpar laptop or an overpowered netbook. Which makes it another market niche. It’s overpriced but sexy as hell. Just another typical Apple product. What did everyone who is complaining about 2GB and 2USB expect?

    • The Dark One
    • 9 years ago

    Having the OS installer on a USB key is a nice idea, but then forgoing USB 3.0 ports means that reinstalling would take even longer than it would with a DVD drive.

      • Metalianman
      • 9 years ago

      R U serious?!?!? A USB flash drive slower in reads than a DVD Drive? please, do your research!

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        Agreed. I installed windows 7 from a usb drive, and it took somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes to complete.

    • Metalianman
    • 9 years ago

    I just remembered something and I thought this was the right place to write about it. Do you all remember when the first iPhone got out? Everyone was saying, too expensive, no multitasking, no bluetooth for file sharing, not even 3G capable and so on. Well, it went on being a massive hit in the market, not to mention that even those who were complaining on forums about it’s fault either bought one or wanted to buy one. 4 years later and 4 generations later the iPhone is one of the best selling smartphones (if not the best) all around the world and nobody questions the superiority on many of it features.

    Then, about half a year ago the iPad came about. Do you remember what most of you were writing at that time? Not x86, no USB ports, no external storage, just a big iPod Touch. I recall reading that the iPad is the most successful gadget of recent history!

    When you look at any device, any device imaginable, you will find countless faults but all these go out the window if it’s practical, fancy, handy and so on. Apple has real success on providing exactly that package (Fancy, practical and handy). Yes, you could get a bit more performance from other devices, or more connectivity, but at the end of the day, if you can do your work quickly enough, easy enough and at the same time have a smile on your face just because the device you’re using is simply gorgeous, well, that alone deserves a price premium. I don’t like metaphors but in this case I’ll make an exception. It’s like having a $60.000 that can outperform a $120.000 Ferrari. If you got the money, believe me, you’d go for the Ferrari, just for the sound of it, the feel of it, the letters on the leather.

    So, I’ll say what Stephen Fry said about the iPad, it is a marvellous device, gorgeous, dazzling even and on that alone it can be a huge success, just like many Apple devices before it. In the recent market, looks do matter, and even though it’s not the best device for my needs, and I do need an ultra-portable, it still is a heck of deal.

    Nag as you please, but I believe that Mac Book Air (2.0) is here to stay and most likely I’ll be one of the happy owners pretty soon (As soon as I get the money that is).

    <.D>

      • esterhasz
      • 9 years ago

      I agree. The second iteration of the Air compensates for the most onerous shortcomings of the first version: the 1,8″ mechanical drive was just too slow for fluid computing (and the SSD version really too expensive when it first came out) and one USB port simply not enough for many situations. But besides the looks, 2.9 pounds for the 13″, the SSD, and the 1440×900 makes this a really interesting machine for the knowledge worker and I wager that many business execs will be tempted as well.
      I’d consider a purchase if the screen quality is really good – I don’t mind forking over a couple of hundred dollars more for a tool that is the center of my work life, that I stare at for hours every day, probably thousands a year… eyesight rocks! My productivity is not related to processor speed but mostly storage load times and number of pixels… and for somebody who bikes to work, 2 pounds less are significant…

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    I think it’s weird that everyone is focused on the 2GB vs. 4GB RAM issue. Uh, how about the processor choice, guys? C2D? A 45nm Penryn? Why not the 32nm Core i3 or Core i5? That would’ve made more sense from a battery-life perspective.

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      It’s a low voltage Core 2. I doubt they would have achieved much better life with a Core i3 or Core i5. Furthermore the Core 2 Duo is not much a performance barrier. Unless you’re doing video encoding I don’t see the Core 2 Duo being a limiting factor.

      There’s also the issue of how they could have executed that. There’s no Nvidia chipset available for the Core i3/i5, which would have meant some how fitting another entire chip inside the Air.

      I think Apple is pretty serious about not using Intel graphics.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 9 years ago

        I’m pretty impressed by Apple sticking to the C2D like this. If Steve doesn’t want to be stuck with Intel graphics, that’s the end of the discussion.

        • Decelerate
        • 9 years ago

        I wonder if Intel saw this “collateral damage” coming when they prevented 3rd party chipsets.

        And I wonder how Intel will react now that it saw Apple resisting the move upwards, at least in the Air, because of that policy.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 9 years ago

          It will be interesting to see how this develops. It seems that Apple insists on a certain level of GPU flexibility to support future software plans. Will Intel deliver, or will Apple start using AMD across a significant number of products?

          Does Intel have integrated GPU’s on the way that are acceptable for computation?

            • Voldenuit
            • 9 years ago

            No, they don’t. Even the upcoming SB graphics will not have any compute functionality.

            I’ve hypothesized in the past that this is a deliberate move by intel to slow the onset of heterogenous computing. For one thing, it is a lot easier to cripple your competitor by making it unattractive for developers to code for their hardware than it is to compete head to head in an area you are several generations behind in. An example is how intel is implementing fixed-function video encode hardware in SB. By making it fixed function (and thereby proprietary), they prevent AMD from taking advantage of their vastly superior GPU compute capabilities with the same code. And conveniently sidestepping the eventual performance comparisons that would ensue.

            I also think that Apple is cooking up something with OpenCL. It’s the only explanation that makes sense, but then again, the decisions coming out from Cupertino don’t always make sense. 😛

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 9 years ago

            Well then, let me boldly predict that a lot of Apple hardware will use AMD CPU+GPUs once C2D is too old and moldy. Good old Steve isn’t going to back down for Intel. The other option is to tack a discrete GPU onto everything, but that costs money and watts. One could also argue that AMD costs watts, and pissing off Intel costs money. But I bet using AMD is the more attractive option for Apple.

            In any case, Apple seems comfortably isolated from worrying about the top-notch CPU performance that Intel offers.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            Or they could just buy AMD and use the products ‘for free’ themselves. I wonder how long it would take for them to make the money back on not having to buy chips at a markup?

      • muyuubyou
      • 9 years ago

      Something for next year with Lion?

      If it had a faster processor than the Macbook non-pro at a similar price, all else being basically better, it would eat it up alive. Having an embedded optical drive has become a liability for smaller form factor laptops.

      • R2P2
      • 9 years ago

      Did you miss the explanations of why the 13″ MBP got stuck with a C2D when the others went Core 2010? Apply those explanations to a machine that’s even smaller…

      • End User
      • 9 years ago

      Ars wrote a good article about it – §[< http://goo.gl/077x<]§

      • KoolAidMan
      • 9 years ago

      An i series CPU means crappy Intel integrated GPU. Going with a C2D means an nVidia 320M. Blame Intel for not allowing other companies to put better integrated GPUs with their new CPUs. We’ll see if Sandy Bridge does a better job.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    Wow. Nice.

    With the death of good ultraportables (RIP Thinkpad X301) it’s good (and surprising) to see such a promising contender from Apple. 2 USB ports is good, discrete GPU is good, high resolution (relatively) screens are good.

    The other drawbacks (C2D, no ethernet) are things I think even non-Apple fans can live with in an ultraportable that’s so, uh, ultra portable.

    I’ll be using my X300 until it dies on me, but it’s good for users that the Air is such a compelling option. I don’t expect it will have good battery life in Windows, however (Anandtech found that OSX gets typically twice the battery life of a Windows 7 install).

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I’m still waiting for an i3 or i5 based MBP 13″. As cool and sleek as the air looks, I have an iPad already, so I think I’ll eschew this market and get something thats bigger and more powerful seeing as I don’t need it to be super ultra portable. I would love a 15″ MBP now, but I’m not going to spend $1700.

    • Metalianman
    • 9 years ago

    Well, I don’t know, I was thinking of a MacBook Pro 13.3 for some time now, but it was a bit too heavy and large so I never actually bought it. I needed something more mobile, and I was looking at the ultraportable market for quite sometime, but the thing is that Intel SU4100 really doesn’t do the job…

    I’ll wait for a review, and I will have a hands on experience in an Apple store before I decide whether I’d spend the money to buy it. Not to mention that since I’m in UK, it’s a bit more expensive to buy it here! Oh, well, no biggie, if it does worth it then I really don’t mind!

    Now, the RAM. I had a MacBook 13.3 (the latest one, with the huge trackpad) for a few months, with 2 Gigs and Snow Leopard. I was doing plenty of things with it and had no problem memory wise what-so-ever! I wasn’t just browsing, I was recording and editing music on it (USB audio card). I was also converting RAW images and lightly editing them as well, so I don’t know if I would really need 4 Gigs, but you never know.

    One thing that was a bit strange was the lack of USB 3.0. Combine that with the other little flaws, mentioned in other replies then, well, it sort of depends. I need the battery, I need the instant on, I need the display and the horse power and most importantly I need the mobility. If another company, gives anything similar, with a couple of features that the new Air lacks, I would gladly pay even more money than the Air for it.

    Conclusion, it’s really attractive in the paper for me, a bit on the expensive side, with no USB 3.0, but still very attractive offering!

    • RhysAndrews
    • 9 years ago

    An Ethernet port would be nice… and essential.

    • End User
    • 9 years ago

    Not bad at all. I really like the new resolutions.

    I can live with the $100 CDN upgrade price to 4GB but the lack of USB 3.0 is a deal breaker for me. I’ll hang on to my 2006 era MacBook Pro until the Air gets USB 3.0.

    • adisor19
    • 9 years ago

    And they removed the backlit keyboard !!!! WHY APPLE, WHYYYYYYYYY ?!!!?!

    *crying in agony*

    Adi

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      Is this really a big deal? I know my keyboard. One of the first things I did was disable the auto illuminating on my MBP. I haven’t raised it once. Just know the keyboard…

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Show-off.

        I’d love to have the small LED lighting up the keyboard I had a few years back on my IBM work laptop. Typing in the dark is a pain… especially with small keyboards they squeeze in on 11.6in laptops

        • TheBob!
        • 9 years ago

        Not a big deal for Desktops, but with the stupid moved keys most laptops have I still mistype on my netbook a lot. Then I make a mistake and I hit 5 more wrong buttons because my DEL and Backspace buttons are the smallest buttons ever and not in the usual spot.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 9 years ago

    1440×900 at 13-inches? Thank you Apple for realizing that more vertical pixels is not something to be terrified of.

      • tay
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah that resolution is nice.. I wish it was on the 11.6″

    • crsh1976
    • 9 years ago

    I find it kinda odd that Steve Jobs’ version of “instant on” is actually only when you wake it up from sleep, not when your boot from the off state.

    You also need to order the extra RAM from Apple for this model, it’s not user-serviceable; kinda strange since 2 GB is hardly adequate anymore, so you can just add $100 to the price on any given Air model (that’s what Apple charges to go from 2 to 4 GB).

    Overall, it’s one big meh to me.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      With a 30 day standby time, I fail to see a reason you’d need to shutdown/reboot to consider it not an instant on device.

      And actually, Mac’s have been pretty much ‘instant on’ from sleep for about 10+ years. My G4 12″ iBook would wake up within 3 seconds from opening the lid.

        • Tamale
        • 9 years ago

        one reason is that you need to completely reboot every time your tethered bluetooth device disconnects… i hate this about OSX.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah at the grand price tag they should spare 4 Gb of ram out right.and default with the larger SSD. and even give you the 1.6 Ghz clock as standard.

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    WOW!

    TWO USB PORTS!!

    How will Apple innovate next!!!?

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      I thought there was one guy on here that said 2 was too manyg{<.<}g

        • eitje
        • 9 years ago

        I recall that, too, and I look forward to history being rewritten to support two ports being enough.

        • Deanjo
        • 9 years ago

        That is not what I said, I said I had no use for two ports and it’s an overhyped requirement when one suffices for most peoples needs given the bluetooth connectivity that is standard.

          • Skrying
          • 9 years ago

          I’m pretty sure you made a million excuses why no one would need two USB ports. But whatever…

            • flip-mode
            • 9 years ago

            LOL

          • odizzido
          • 9 years ago

          If I use my laptop to play a game I will be using my mouse and headset. I wouldn’t exactly call that a rare thing for a user to do.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            I would, when you consider the hardware in the machine. You’re not gaming on a MBA 11.6″ with a 1.4ghz Core2Duo. You also have the option of a small $5 USB hub if you REALLY need more than one.

            • Skrying
            • 9 years ago

            You’re kidding… there’s was no reason the first didn’t have two. Clearly, with this even thinner Air, it would have been easily possible for Apple to do it.

            While his specific example may not be an instance you see often, there’s numerous other ones such as using a external mouse and need to plug in a thumb drive. Carrying around a hub is annoying and shouldn’t be a option on a high end system, even if it is a ultra portable.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            Carry around and plug in an extra cable for the “most portable” model to do something otherwise totally normal even for a 9″ netbook…that makes sense.

            Hey, why don’t we make it even more portable and remove the battery, screen, keyboard, and/or trackpad? You can just carry those around if you need them, as well.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            Everyone needs those things for the machine to operate, most people will never use more than one USB port. You don’t need to plug a USB mouse in. Its got Bluetooth so you use a bt mouse. I’m not saying its ideal or not possible for more, just that in most use cases, you don’t need more than one. Also, if you NEED more than one, either don’t buy a 1g air or carry a hub. Simple as that. If it’s such a pain to carry a hub, they’re smaller than a mouse that everyone seems to carry by default to make this argument.

            • Deanjo
            • 9 years ago

            Ever hear of bluetooth?

            • SPOOFE
            • 9 years ago

            I have! I was researching wireless mice and was shocked and amazed to find how much more expensive Bluetooth is over RF. That’s when I decided, “Hey, the wireless mouse /[

            • thecoldanddarkone
            • 9 years ago

            Yea, I have one. However full sized bluetooth mice are hard to find, and good ones are even harder.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, but this is apple so they’re only USB 2.0

    • provoko
    • 9 years ago

    I hate the feeling of these laptops, aluminum is horrible choice. The white plastic laptops all feel very very nice.

      • Deanjo
      • 9 years ago

      Most people with vibrators feel that way I hear.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    Can it play Crysis? Nope.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      lol. it’s a mac. it can’t play games. and OMG there’s like 5 steam games that work on it. ALL ARE MORE THAN 2 YEARS OLD. and osx’s opengl sucks. it can’t play anything.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        hey I hear Blizzard did a cross-platform launch on a fairly popular PC game.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          that’s true. I forgot about blizzard! they’ve always given osx some love!

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 9 years ago

      Off point, flip.

        • pedro
        • 9 years ago

        Well played.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    1k for 2gb or ram! woot! and 7 hours of battery life! what a deal! I just bought an acer (the one that was on sale with best buy canada) and On power saving, i get 9+ hours of battery, and it’s a 1.4ghz core 2. that was 400$ yes this has an ssd, and is slightly thinner, but it’s 2 and half times as expensive! lol. I can appreciate some justification for apple products, but 2.5 times as much is insane. Aluminium is not worth 600$ to me. It has the same res as my acer, probably a slightly nicer screen, but i have been quite happy with the one i’ve got. IDK, call me crazy, but 600$ is a lot for not much more.

    edit: never mind, it’s not 600$, mine is a 13 inch. so it’s 900$ it’s not 2.5X it’s 4X the price. that’s mind blowing. either I got an INSANE deal, or this is a massive ripoff. and mine is aluminum, not a unibody, but it is aluminum. Plus i have more ram, and hdmi out, as well as more usb, and ethernet ports. I can’t even compare these 2 things. that price is insane.

    I also want to say that aluminum isn’t really a good thing. Ask hungary how they feel about aluminum processing. 9 people are dead from the toxic mess it creates.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    What’s not mentioned in the article is that a neato lil’ USB Flash stick comes with each unit, that serves as a “re-installation” backup. So I guess your OS X won’t be on DVD.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      we do that at the company i work at (until friday probably, then i’m done :). it’s pretty easy.

      • Decelerate
      • 9 years ago

      The rest of the industry needs to catch up to this feature.

    • Duck
    • 9 years ago

    Don’t tell me that’s fanless too. Damn I never want an apple product ever. Except now :'(

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      it’s not fanless.

      • dpaus
      • 9 years ago

      Indeed, it will soon have millions of shrieking, high-velocity fans….

        • Palek
        • 9 years ago

        I get “shrieking,” but am somewhat puzzled by “high-velocity.” Please explain.

          • dpaus
          • 9 years ago

          Nothing more than that they go around in circles very, very fast

      • crose
      • 9 years ago

      Uh, my I ask why you demand that it has a fan? I would like fanless as long as it’s sufficiently cooled without one. Noise, brrr.. SSD certainly helps!

    • internetsandman
    • 9 years ago

    I like the resolutions for these screen sizes. It just goes to show how much other laptop makers are skimping on screens when this 11 inch screen has the same resolution as a lot of 14 and even some 15 inchers out there. People might hate apple, but you simply cannot deny that they do make a well crafted, quality product, however much the cost may destroy a value proposition

    • Skrying
    • 9 years ago

    Like everything about them except two things:

    1. Default of 2GB is ridiculous. 4GB is a must at minimum. Don’t give me nonsense that OSX uses less memory. I can confirm how untrue that is because I now own a MBP 13.

    2. Doesn’t seem any method available to upgrade the storage.

    • Decelerate
    • 9 years ago

    Wonder how it would perform bootcamped into Win7. Insta-on Win 7 would be a mighty attractive selling point.

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      Given how much battery life drops on the MacBook Pros inside Windows 7… I just can’t see this being a very attractive solution. Even with instant on you’re talking maybe 3.5 to 4 hours of battery life on the 13.3″ model at best.

      • FuturePastNow
      • 9 years ago

      Windows 7 is pretty much “instant-on” waking up from sleep with an SSD, too. At least, it is on my desktop PC. That’s an SSD thing.

        • EsotericLord
        • 9 years ago

        Even without an SSD, from sleep mode mine only takes a few seconds.

        Its almost longer for me to wait for my slow samsung monitor to turn on than it is to wait for my PC, and I boot from a 1 terabyte 7200rpm HDD.

        • tay
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah SSD is the single biggest upgrade since dual core. No doubt. i3, i7, etc pales in comparison to the difference an SSD makes in usability.

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