Apple flies in the MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is not quite an ultraportable, but still very small. Mimicking the 13-inch silhouette of the current MacBook line, it's 0.76-inch thick at its thickest part. Apple calls it the "world's thinnest notebook."

The oh-so-slim Macbook Air Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

With Macworld kicking off today, that tangled web of rumor, innuendo, and outright fabrication known as the Internet has been abuzz with all kinds of supposedly inside top-secret documentation, downloaded directly from Steve Jobs' frontal lobe.

Naturally, we didn't believe a word of any of the oh-so-fake "leaked" Steve Jobs keynote addresses and product spec sheets, but one area where most of the speculators were at least partially right was in Apple's latest laptop, the MacBook Air.

As was heavily predicted, the new laptop is not quite an ultraportable, but still very small. Mimicking the 13-inch silhouette of the current MacBook line, it's .76-inch thick at its thickest part. Apple calls it the "world's thinnest notebook."

The MacBook Air includes the usual iSight camera, plus what looks like a fairly standard Mac-like keyboard, an LED backlit display, an ambient light sensor, and a big touchpad that works with multitouch gestures, such as rotating a photo by twisting your fingers on the touchpad.

As for what's inside this slim laptop, we're looking at a 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, custom-made by Intel to fit into the slim chassis, 2GB of RAM, and a choice of either an 80GB standard 1.8-inch hard drive or a 64GB SSD drive (which really should be standard for something so forward-looking). Bluetooth and 802.11n were expected, but the lack of an optical drive is a surprise--it's a smart space- and power-saving move we expect to see in more ultraportable laptops. External drives will work, and the Air can connect wirelessly to an optical drive in another nearby computer.

The MacBook Air is available for preorder now, and it ships in two weeks, starting at $1,799.

The hype was already huge preshow, so it's hard to say if anything could really live up to it, but this seems, at first glance, like a solid addition to the MacBook lineup. We'll have to keep waiting for a true ultraportable, something missing from the Apple lineup for several years.

Our own Michelle Thatcher is live on-site at Macworld, and will be bringing us her in-person take on the new Apple laptop very soon, so stay tuned for that.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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