Is the MacBook Air the new mainstream MacBook?
The White MacBook is dead. The cheaper, plastic $999 legacy to iBooks and PowerBooks of old has finally been removed from the spectrum of Apple laptops, and suddenly the decision spectrum has narrowed to two choices: the MacBook Pro, and the thinner MacBook Air, updated this morning with a faster processor and preinstalled with OSX Lion.
The MacBook Air has walked an interesting path since 2008, first as a high-end executive plaything, then a more attainable but still specialty interest ultraportable. Last year's MacBook Airs debuted in October, well after back-to-school shopping.
This year, however, the new Airs have emerged in late July, perfectly timed for students planning their computer purchases. The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, last saw an update back in February.
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A $999 MacBook still remains; the 11-inch Air's base model costs the same as that older white MacBook. Its 1.6GHz Core i5 processor feels far zippier than last year's Air, but its limited storage (64GB of flash memory) presents a limit to hold-everything-on-your-hard-drive people. On first boot-up, 48GB of drive space was free to use, which limits what you'd permanently keep on your computer. That 64GB of storage can be expanded up to 256GB at the time of purchase, but that drives the price up, too, by several hundred dollars.
Or, does that matter anymore?… Read more