Apple releases new MacBook Air, Mac Mini, Mac OS X Lion

One of the world’s biggest computer makers just upgraded its slate, with a refresh of the ultralight MacBook Air, a new operating system, and updates to a couple of other products.

First up is the new MacBook Air laptops, updated with new Intel Core processors launched earlier this year with Sandy Bridge technology. Both the 11 inch and 13 inch MacBook Air computers feature either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor with between 64GB and 256GB of storage using a solid state drive. Much like the past model, they’re both really thin, being 0.3 cm at the thinnest point and 1.7cm at the thickest.

Apple's 11 inch and 13 inch MacBook Air notebooks sitting back to back.

Apple is also including a FaceTime HD camera in the new models, USB, an SD card slot, and Apple’s high-speed Thunderbolt port, which Apple sees as a replacement for USB and Firewire. The new Air starts at $1099 for the 11 inch or $1449 for the 13 inch.

The monitor-less Mac Mini (above) also received an update, ditching the DVD Superdrive and throwing in Intel’s latest Core i5 or I7 chips and a Thunderbolt port. Pricing for the new Mini starts at $699.

Both of these computers will come equipped with Apple’s latest operating system, Mac OS X Lion, also known as 10.7. The new OS features a “resume” mode which will restore apps to where they were when you restart your computer, an easy wireless transfer system to send files to and from other Macs, a new version of Apple’s email app, and new multitouch gestures to use on the trackpad.

The OS X Lion upgrade costs $31.99 and is available through the Mac OS X App Store, but if you need to install and don’t have access to the App Store, Apple will be releasing it on a USB thumbdrive in late August for $75.

Apple’s announcements also signalled, sadly, the death of the white MacBook, now missing from the Apple laptop lineup. What was a favourite of students for years has now gone the way of the dinosaur, with the white MacBook now discontinued.

The discontinuation of the white polycarbonate MacBook hardly comes as a surprise, however, especially since it had so much in common with the 13 inch aluminium MacBook Pro.