Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivered his eagerly awaited keynote address this morning at the annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco, and even though he didn’t unveil any groundbreaking new devices like he did last year with the iPhone, Jobs did manage to thrill Apple fans with some exciting new products as well as updates to existing ones.
The biggest excitement surrounded the ultra-thin MacBook Air, which Jobs referred to as the thinnest notebook in the world—and with good reason. It tapers from just .76-inches thick at the top end to only .16-inches thick at the bottom and tips the scales at only 3 pounds, which doesn’t involve a lot of tipping. To drive home the thinness point, Jobs demonstrated how the MacBook Air could fit into a manila envelope.
Among the MacBook Air’s features are a 13.3-inch LED backlit screen, a 1.8-inch 80GB Hard Drive (optional 64GB Solid State Drive), 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB memory, a multitouch trackpad, a black LED backlit full-size keyboard, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and built-in iSight—all this for only $1,799. The battery has an impressive 5-hour life, but unfortunately battery replacement can be handled only by Apple.
On the environmental side, the MacBook Air has an easily recycled aluminum case, Apple’s first mercury-free and arsenic-free display, and circuit boards that are bromide and PVC free. Even the packaging has 50% less volume, helping to reduce the energy expended in transporting and disposing of the materials.
Speaking to a crowd of about 4,000, Jobs also announced that Apple had reached agreements with all the major film studios to provide iTunes movie rentals, including more than 100 high-definition titles with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Users can download movies and watch them on their iPods, iPhones, computers, or even their TVs using Apple’s new TV software. Apple also has lowered the price of the 40 GB Apple TV to $229.
Other new product announcements included: Time Capsule, a wireless backup utility; a major software upgrade for the iPod touch that includes five more mobile applications (Mail, Maps, Stocks, Weather, and Notes); and an iPhone firmware upgrade that features the ability to send messages to multiple recipients at once.
At the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, Apple announced an updated Mac Pro computer and Xserve server, which include two super-fast Intel Xeon 5400 series quad-core processors.
The MacBook Air will begin shipping in two weeks. We’ll keep you posted on any other exciting developments that pop up this week at the Macworld Expo. –by Graham W.