Apple Inc. updated its MacBook Air laptops Wednesday and released the much-anticipated Mac OS X Lion, while also unceremoniously discontinuing its white entry-level MacBook line.
The new MacBook Air notebook computers, which lack optical drives (another example of Apple pushing users toward a disc-free future), gain speedier Intel processors — ranging from the 1.6–gigahertz dual-core Core i5 chip in the lower-end, 11-inch-screen model, to the dual-core 1.8-GHz Core i7. The i5 and i7 processors are known for being powerful, with variations of this chip line running in Apple's MacBook Pros and iMac computers.
A backlighted keyboard and a Thunderbolt port have also been added to the Airs in this refresh. Thunderbolt ports are capable of transferring data at a rate of 10 gigabits per second, much faster than USB 2.0, which transfers data at about 480 megabits per second. But, as of now, there aren't a lot of external hard drives or cameras and other items that utilize the ports because of the cost of implementing the technology; a Thunderbolt cable itself sells for $49.
Despite the changes, the price range for the MacBook Air remains the same: $999 to $1,699.
And it just might be that the $999 price of the 11-inch base MacBook Air was responsible for Apple's killing off the much beloved white polycarbonate MacBook laptop. Apple officials weren't available to comment on why the white MacBook was getting the ax.