Rumor became reality today at an Apple press event where CEO Steve Jobs announced a complete redesign of the MacBook Air. Apple will now offer a revamped 13-inch version and a completely new 11-inch version, making them even more impossibly thin in the process.
Apple made the announcement at the "Back to the Mac" event, which also featured news about the upcoming Mac OS X Lion operating system and new features in iLife '11. But the new MacBook Air was in the anticipated "one more thing" slot Jobs always reserves for big announcements at the end of his presentations.
"We asked ourselves, 'What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?'" Jobs said, indicating the MacBook Air. "We think it's the future of notebooks. It's really stunning, and it's really small."
The biggest news is that Apple will be adding a smaller model to the MacBook Air line. There is still a 13.3-inch version, but Apple will also sell an 11.6-inch "younger brother," as Jobs put it.
Surprisingly, Apple was able to make both of them even thinner than the previous Air models.
"It's amazingly thin. At its thickest point, it is 0.68 inches thin. And it tapers to .11 inches. And it weighs 2.9 lbs," Jobs said.
Both models contain an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA GeForce 320m graphics accelerator, 2GB of RAM, WiFi, stereo speakers, full-size keyboard, oversized Multi-Touch trackpad and FaceTime camera.
The 13-inch display has 1440 x 900 pixel resolution, more than the 15-inch MacBook, and the 11-inch display has 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, greater than that of the 13-inch MacBook.
Thinness wasn't the only innovation in the MacBook Air. In the new models, Apple has decided not to include a hard drive. Instead, the rumors that the company is using a flash memory chip turned out to be true. Just like the iPhone and the iPad, the MacBook Air uses a memory "card" instead of a full hard drive housing.
"Apple is the largest user of flash memory in the world, so we know a lot about creating flash storage devices," Jobs said.
The benefits of flash storage are clear: it has instant on capabilities (no wait when coming out of sleep mode); it's up to two times faster than conventional hard drives; it's more reliable for mobile devices; it's 90 percent smaller and lighter; and it's completely silent.
Apple's decision also means better battery life, and the MacBook Air certainly delivers. The 13-inch version has 7 hours of battery life under Web browsing conditions, and the 11-inch has 5 hours. Both have an unprecedented 30 days of standby time.
The 11-inch MacBook Air is $999 for 64GB of storage and $1199 for 128GB. The 13-inch model is $1299 for 128GB of storage and $1599 for 256GB. Both notebooks are available through Apple starting today.