Touch that MacBook at last, thanks to the latest AirBar at CES 2017

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It's what you've always wanted. A 13-inch MacBook Air with a touchscreen. We've all done the same thing, reaching out to tap or swipe a MacBook before realizing it was, in fact, a MacBook and not a touchscreen Windows laptop. Put a MacBook Air in front of any kid under 10, and they'll instinctively do the same thing.

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CNET/Dan Ackerman

Only, it's not exactly a MacBook with a touchscreen. It's actually a MacBook with a sold-separately add-on sensor bar that sits just below the display and connects via USB plug. We've played around with one of these devices -- called the AirBar -- late last year, but that version was for Windows PCs.

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The AirBar works by sending up a light field that your fingers break by swiping and tapping. In the Windows version we tried, it worked surprisingly well, at least for an add-on that cost less than $70 (£55 or AU$94). The key was to find a laptop with a screen that was precisely the right size for the AirBar, which is why the company has been selling both 13-inch and 15-inch models.

The new MacBook Air version is designed for the 13-inch MacBook Air and costs $99 (£80 or AU$155), although models for other Macs are said to be in the works. One for a new MacBook Pro or for the 12-inch MacBook, for example, would need a USB-C plug, rather than the USB-A one used now.

No one is going to confuse the AirBar with a true touchscreen laptop, and the accuracy and response seemed better lower down on the screen, closer to the bar itself. But, for basic swiping down web pages, moving photos or folders around or clicking on a video to play or pause it, it worked often enough that it's a fun, inexpensive add-on that gives you a taste of one of the key features on almost every Mac users' wish list.

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AirBar Touchscreen Sensor For MacBook Air

Part Number: CNETAirBar Touchscreen Sensor For MacBook Air

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