CNET First Look
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, Summer 2011)Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air is faster, has a backlit keyboard, and comes with OSX Lion, all in time for back-to-school shopping. We go hands-on and look at what's changed.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a very first look at the latest version of Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air. Now, physically from the outside if you'd open up the box. This looks a heck of a lot like the previous MacBook Air and in fact physically it's pretty much the same box except that this guy has a backlit keyboard something that was in the original Air missing from the second generation now back here again and the other big changes. I'm gonna show you right here on the side. This DisplayPort jack right here on the back is now a Thunderbolt-compatible jack. So, that you can hook up a display to it but you can also hook up Thunderbolt peripherals if you happen to ran across in there or couple of hard drives and Apple's gonna have a really nice looking big laptop oriented monitor later on in the summer that you can actually connect this directly too and that's gonna have an internet port and a FireWire and some other jacks. That through that single Thunderbolt connection, you can now access from your laptop. Under the hood, the biggest change with this latest generation of MacBook Air systems is the move from Intel Core-2 Duo CPUs to the latest second generation Core i-Series that's a two-generation leap for the processor. You've got Core i5 in the 11-inch and the 13-inch MacBooks and in both of those, you can actually upgrade to the faster core i7 processors. These are all the low-voltage versions and you've got to start with the more expensive upgraded base models for both of those in order to get that core i7 processor. As it is just start out with a 128 GB Solid State Drive in the 13-inch version and 4 GB of RAM or you can upgrade that to a 256 GB Solid State Drive which should be big enough for just about everybody. Once you start doing that, your MacBook Air can get a little bit expensive. We've still got the same 16x10 display. They haven't move to 16x9 yet on the 13-inch models. The gigantic multi-track touchpad is the same. They have however add it for the OS X Lion operating system upgrade that comes with these. A bunch of new gestures that took us a little while to get used too but of bunches that were actually pretty useful and you're gonna have to train yourself to use those instead of some of the previous versions of these Multi-Touch Gestures. So, here's a quick peak at some of the new gestures that you're gonna have to get used to in order to use a new MacBook Air or really any Mac laptop that has the OS X Lion operating system upgrade. The two fingers scroll still works. It still works really great going up and down the web pages. Now, in order to move a window around, we used to double-tap here and move it much like you would on a Windows PC. Now, it just take three fingers and then you can move your Windows around very easily just like that. The Four Finger Gesture still gives you a big overview. They called it as a Mission Control View now. I'm sure with all the different apps you have opened and let's you set up alternative desktops. The biggest change for me was getting back to your desktop. You pick your thumb and three fingers and then you pinch out from there and that expose your desktop and you reverse that to go back the other way and you do that reverse again and that takes you to what they call the Launch Pad which looks very much like your iOS, your iPad, or iPhone collection of apps and these are all the apps that either come pre-installed or you get through the Apple App Store and then you just pinch the other way to get back to your regular desktop. So, following the traditional Apple upgrade cycle, what they have done is they've kept the price with the same $12.99 and $15.99 for the two different base models of the 13-inch MacBook Air while upgrading the components inside most notably of course that core i5 processor and the Thunderbolt port. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Air.