Ultrathin Laptop, New Updates for iPhone, Apple TV
Macworld Conference and Expo officially kicked off today as Apple CEO Steve Jobs took center stage and unveiled two new products, including an ultrathin laptop called the MacBook Air, and a few software updates to its existing products, including the iPhone.
Holding a manila envelope, Jobs pulled out a slick, wafer-thin MacBook Air. This is "the world's thinnest notebook," he boasted. It measures a mere 0.16 to 0.76 inches thick and weighs only 3 pounds. Even at the laptop's thickest area of 0.76 inches, the MacBook Air is thinner than today's slimmest laptops such as Sony's TZ series, which measure 0.8 to 1.2 inches thick, according to Jobs.
Part of what makes the MacBook Air so thin, Jobs explained, is that the components used inside are smaller than those in other notebooks. The Intel Core Duo processor, for example, is 60 percent smaller than Intel's current Core Duo chips. The MacBook Air's CPU sports the width of a dime and it's as thick as a nickel, said Intel CEO Paul Otellini.
Another reason the MacBook Air maintains its svelte figure is the lack of an optical disc drive. However, users will be able to buy an optional USB-connectable SuperDrive (CD- and DVD-burner) for $99 extra.
The MacBook Air has an estimated battery life of 5 hours, Jobs said. The notebook will be available at the end of January for $1,799 for the base model. The price for the 1.8-GHz or the 64-gigabyte solid state drive (in place of an 80-GB hard drive) versions have not been announced. (See the Air’s nitty-gritty specs at the end.)
After the jump, more Apple unveilings.
Automatic Backups Made Easier
Jobs also unveiled a back-up device called Time Capsule that automatically and wirelessly backs up everything on one or more Macs running Apple's Leopard operating system. Time Capsule complements the company's back-up application called Time Machine, which comes preinstalled in Macs running the Leopard OS.
Time Capsule combines a server-grade hard disk with an 802.11n base station. Using the Time Machine software, users can set up automatic wireless backups for every Mac in their house to the Time Capsule. It will be available in a 500GB model for $299 and a 1TB version for $499. Apple plans to ship these devices in February.
Software Updates for the iPhone and the iPod Touch
Starting today iPhone users will be able to take advantage of some neat, new software enhancements free of charge. Among them is a useful GPS location feature for Google Maps. The iPhone can now triangulate the handset's location using nearby Wi-Fi base stations or cellular towers. Users can employ this feature as their start or end point for directions or to find local businesses or points of interest.
Secondly, users can now text multiple people in one message-- a feature that's available in many mobile phones today, though has been sorely lacking on the iPhone.
Thirdly, users can create Web clips of their favorite sites. This feature lets them save shortcut icons of their most visited Web pages directly on the iPhone's home screen. Additionally, users can now customize the phone's home screen and create up to nine additional icons on the home screen, with the overflow going to a second page.
Fourthly, iPhone plays back movies rented from the new iTunes Movie Rentals. The rentals, however, must be synced from a computer -- they are not downloadable directly to the iPhone. Like a tiny DVD player, the iPhone supports chapter selections, subtitles and multiple languages if the movie file provides them.
On the iPod Touch, users can now add five applications that have been available on the iPhone: mail, maps, stocks, notes and weather. The add-ons cost $20 for existing iPod Touch users, although they will be built-in on new iPod Touch players.
Rent Movies on iTunes
Also available today is a new section on iTunes that lets customers rent DVD- and HD-quality movies for $3.99 and $4.99 respectively. New releases will be available on iTunes 30 days after their DVD release, Jobs said.
Users must first download a movie to their computer and will be able to transfer them to their iPod or iPhone, using iTunes, for viewing on-the-go. Once you rent a movie, you have 30 days to view it. And once you start a movie, you must finish it within 24 hours. Otherwise, the rental expires. The rental service is available to U.S. customers today and later this year for other countries.
Apple TV, Take 2
At his keynote, Jobs admitted that the Apple TV didn't take off as the company had hoped. So they're trying a new service that lets users download rented DVD- and HD-quality movies and purchased TV shows directly to a television without the use of a computer. The content is also downloaded to the iTunes player on the user's computer.
Users can also stream audio and video podcasts and photos from Flikr and Apple's .Mac server, as well as play iTunes songs directly on a big-screen TV. Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV from $299 to $229 today. Users can download the software update for free in two weeks.--Grace Aquino
MacBook Air Specs
- 1.6-GHz Intel Core Duo processor (or an optional 1.8-GHz version)
- 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
- 80GB hard drive (or an optional 64GB solid state drive)
- 13.3-inch, 1280x800 resolution screen
- built-in iSight webcam
- backlit QWERTY keyboard
- trackpad with multi-touch gesture support so users can tap, scroll, swipe, pinch, and rotate (the same technology that's used on the iPhone and the iPod Touch)
- 802.11n wireless LAN
- Bluetooth 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) support that allows it to transfer data wirelessly at up to 3 Mbps as opposed to 721 Kbps with older types of Bluetooth
- micro-DVI port for connecting to an external display