Apple Unveils New 2.3 Pound MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air
Apple MacBook Air

Apple (AAPL) took a page from its iPad design book as it presented a new MacBook Air Wednesday, a super thin, lightweight notebook that has no hard drive.

The MacBook Air features a flash drive storage drive, a move that shaves weight off the computer and creates an "always on" device that takes very little time to boot up.

At a press conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the ah-ha moments when the design team realized that Apple's mobile operating system, the iOS for the iPhone, could be transferred to the iPad, and then realized that some of the new iPad hardware could be used to revamp the MacBook Air.

"The iPad is instant on, has great battery life, standby time, is thinner and lighter, so it's even more mobile," Jobs said. "We wondered, what would happen if an iPad and notebook hooked up?" With typical Jobs showmanship, the revamped MacBook Air then appeared.

Macs Gets Some Attention

For Apple, driving Mac sales is important. Macs, while the smallest among its product lines based on shipments, accounts for a third of its revenues. Apple reported revenue of $65.2 billion for the fiscal year just ended, with Mac sales accounting for roughly a third with $22 billion in sales, said Tim Cook, Apple chief operating officer.

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The MacBook Air, which launches in stores today, comes in a 13.3-inch size that is 2.9 pounds and a 11.6-inch version that is 2.3 pounds. Prices start at $999 for a 11.6-inch, 1.4 GHz, 64GB MacBook Air and climb up to $1,599 as processing power increases. Previously, the MacBook Air weighed three pounds and came in one size, 13.3-inches.

"It's like nothing we have ever created before and it's really small," Jobs beamed. He added the new MacBook Air is two times faster because there's no hard drive.

The Lion Arrives

As expected, Apple also unveiled a new version of its operating system, called OS X Lion. The upgraded OS X features elements borrowed from the iPad, including auto save, the bottom-of-the-screen dock, full-screen apps and apps resume, as well as a unique "mission control" feature to clear a cluttered desktop and display all windows.

Lion is expected to be available this summer.

Apple also unveiled FaceTime for Mac, bringing video chat capabilities to the computer which allow Mac users to video chat with people on their iPhones or iPod Touches. The computer maker also unveiled a new version of its iLife software suite, featuring upgrades including new audio editing enhancements in iMovie and the ability to print a phone book created on the computer using iPhoto.