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Macworld Expo: Apple Launches MacBook Air, Time Capsule

At the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage Tuesday to introduce the company's latest technologies. As rumored, Apple launched a new, super-slim version of the MacBook laptop computer, known as the MacBook Air. Jobs also introduced a new version of the AirPort Extreme Base Station known as Time Capsule, which combines an 802.11n router with a wireless backup storage solution.

MacBook Air
The MacBook Air does not replace any of Apple's existing laptops (which include the 13.3-inch MacBooks and various higher-end MacBook Pro models). The new unit is designed to fill the niche for ultra-slim but full-featured notebooks. At its thickest point, the MacBook Air measures 0.76 inches, tapering down to 0.16 inches at its thinnest.

What the new model gives up is an optical drive and Ethernet connectivity, FireWire, line in, optical audio capabilities, and a bit of processor speed, although it is still based around an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Otherwise, it offers the essential features of a standard MacBook, including:

  • A 13.3-inch LED backlit widescreen display (powered by an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100);
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, specially engineered for this model, with 4 MB level-2 cache, on an 800 MHz frontside bus;
  • 2 GB standard 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM;
  • 80 GB 1.8-inch hard drive or optional 64 GB solid-state drive;
  • Built-in 802.11n wireless networking;
  • Built-in Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
  • Micro-DVI port and adapter (for connecting to external DVI and VGA displays);
  • Built-in video camera;
  • Backlit keyboard and multi-touch trackpad; and
  • One USB 2.0 port.

So what about the optical drive? Lacking that, Apple has come up with a new technology that allows the MacBook Air to "borrow" the optical drive of nearby Macs or Windows-based PCs for installing software or performing functions for which the optical drive is normally used. The technology even allows Windows PCs to load and run Mac software discs for remote use.

The base MacBook Air runs $1,799 (retail) and will be available in two weeks. It's available for pre-order now.

Time Capsule
Following up on Mac OS X 10.5's Time Machine, Apple also launched a new appliance called "Time Capsule." The device combines a "server-grade" hard drive with an 802.11n base station to support automatic backups using Time Machine for all Macs connected to the network. It features:

  • Three gigabit LAN ports;
  • One gigabit Ethernet WAN port;
  • One USB 2.0 port;
  • A built-in NAT firewall;
  • Dual-band antennas for 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequencies; and
  • Either 500 GB or 1 TB of storage.

Time Capsule is expected to ship in February for $299 for the 500 GB model and $499 for the 1 TB model.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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