New MacBook Airs: Faster, Lighter, 30-Day Standby Power

It’s been two years since the last MacBook Air refresh, but Apple’s made up for lost time: the redesigned MacBook Air weighs 1.3kg, lasts 30 days on standby power and rocks complete unibody construction. And a storage secret.

The smaller Air won’t have an SSD or an HDD. Instead, it’s got an SSD card that’s a bit like a stick of RAM. Why’s that important for you? Instant on. Because the Air relies on flash memory, the boot times are near zero. Other guts? Intel Core2Duo processors inside along with Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics. Apple’s also done the right thing by adding an SD card reader and a second USB port.

The MacBook Airs will come with a FaceTime camera – notably not an iSight camera – along with a full-size keyboard and multitouch trackpad. The 11-incher has a 1366×768 display, while the 13-inch rocks 1440×900. They weigh just 1kg and 1.3kg, respectively, and both thankfully include stereo speakers.

The battery life is a huge story here as well: the 13.3-incher will last seven hours with active use, and a full month on standby. The 11.6-inch gets five hours and that same 30-day standby time. The batteries are said to be good for 1000 charges and can be replaced for $US129.

Both are available today starting at $1199. That’ll get you the smaller Air with a 1.4GHz Core2Duo and 64GB of storage, while for $1449 you can upgrade to 128GB with the same processor. The 13.3-inch MBA starts off at a 1.86GHz processor and 128GB of storage for $1599, and opting for 256GB bumps the price to $1949. The base models start at 2GB of RAM but are upgradeable to 4GB, and it looks as though they provide you with a USB stick with the OS.

What’s not here? An optical drive, for one, but that’s to be expected. I’m more curious about the guts and why Apple opted for an outdated Core2Duo instead of a ULV Core i3. In terms of raw power, you don’t have to look very far for ultraportables that match or beat the new MacBook Airs at comparable pricing. But there’s a lot to be said for the flash memory model, OS X and Apple’s design appeal, and higher price points haven’t put much of a dent in the rest of the MacBook line. [Apple]

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