Apple New Macbook Air 2011 & Mac OS X Lion Released

So here it is, a brand new refresh of the Macbook Air from Apple. This time Apple is keeping the original Oct 2010 aluminium unibody chasis design, no surprise here though in my opinion this is as thin and light the Macbook Air can get. There are however 4 new major features:

  • Intel Core i5 and i7 “Sandy Bridge” Processors – Core 2 Duo was the processor used in the previous model, Apple claims the new processors is up to 2 times faster. Sandy Bridge processors come with the Intel 3000 integrated graphics, replacing the Nvidia’s GeForce 320M on the previous model.
  • Thunderbolt – First noticed on the new Macbook Pros back in February this year, Apple replaces the Mini DisplayPort with the Thunderbolt port, 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and twice of USB 3.0, unfortunately there isn’t a lot of thunderbolt devices in the market as of now but we should be seeing that change very soon.
  • Backlit Keyboard – Interestingly the very first Macbook Air back in 2008 had this feature but not on the 2010 versions. This feature would definitely be useful in dimly lit environments.
  • OS X Lion – The new Macbook Airs come with the latest OS X Lion 10.7 preinstalled.

Pricing wise, they aren’t much different as well with the 11.6″ i5 1.6GHz 64GB SSD drive starting from S$1,288 but if you are travelling to the states anytime soon, you probably should get a better price with the currency difference (US$999).

Together with the Macbook Air refresh, Apple has also released their latest OS X Lion 10.7 and based on what I have read, it’s getting a lot of raving reviews from big sites. Before you rush to upgrade your Macbooks from your App store, you might be interested to know what are the major changes and requirements:

Requirements to upgrade/install OS X Lion

  • Core 2 Duo, Core i3/i5/i7 or Xeon processor at least – You need to have at least one the later processors, if you have an mac that doesn’t have the processors listed, this is no go for you. To find out the processor your mac is using, all you have to do is click on the apple icon on the top left of the screen and choose “About this Mac”.
  • Snow Leopard a must – Even if you have the processor listed above, you need to first upgrade your Mac OS to 10.6 or Snow Leopard. Do remember to do a software update first before you purchase from the store as there are at least 1GB+ of updates to prepare your mac for the Lion upgrade.
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What’s new in OS X Lion

  • New mouse gestures – A bunch of new mouse gestures for better control of your mac. For example, mission control by swiping 3 fingers up to see every open window, sideways to switching between full screen apps, double tap to zoom, pinch to zoom, etc. Most of the gestures resemble that of an iPad, and if you own one you shouldn’t have problems adjusting to the new gestures.
  • Full-screen App support – There is support for full screen apps, once again something similar to iPad. This is good news for app developers, I often notice there are Apps that I would like to use on my Macbook for example Flipboard and this could possibly happen soon.
  • Mission Control – As mention on the new mouse gesture, by swiping 3 fingers upwards on your trackpad you get a bird’s-eye view of everything on your system. Read more about mission control.
  • Launchpad – Yes, another iPhone/iPad lookalike but hey this is probably going to be very useful. One thing about the applications folder is it feels cluttered and messy and unorganized. With launchpad, you get a clean display of your applications in icons, with the ability to group them into folders or delete them with ease.
  • AirDrop – Although it is already possible to share files between macs quite easily over bluetooth, AirDrop makes that process much more easier. Drag and drop, accept and transfers occur on an encryption protocol. Easy peasy.
  • Mail reworked – Not too sure about this as I use Google Apps for all my mails but if you still used to downloading mails to your mac, you probably want to check it out.
  • Lion Server(optional) – I’m sure Microsoft already has a copy and a team dissecting it to death. At an additional US$49.99, you can turn your mac into a file server and collaboration tool such as calendaring, email, contacts, chat, VPN and much more. While Apple is touting the perfect solution for businesses and schools, I’m holding that thought for while and in my opinion this is perhaps more suitable for small business and collaboration groups. Nevertheless this is an interesting development to follow and see if it holds up in the near future.

These are some major changes, do also check out Apple’s comprehensive page of over 250+ OS X Lion new features.

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