News: Apple Updates Mac mini, MacBook Air, Display

Posted on July 20, 2011

Seeing as Apple has been in a product launch holding pattern for awhile until the release of Lion, it comes as no surprise that to coincide with the launch of the big cat, we got a slew of new products, including a cheaper Mac mini, new MacBook Airs, and a Thunderbolt-equipped display. Now, everything but the Mac Pro in Apple’s lineup has a Thunderbolt port. Also, there’s not an optical drive in the new products released today.

First up, the Mac mini got a refresh and has some nice built-to-order options (starting at $100 less, too!):

At just 7.7-inches square and 1.4-inches thin, the new Mac mini maintains its compact aluminum design while delivering amazing performance and graphics capabilities. Available in three different configurations, customers can choose a Mac mini with the latest dual-core Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 processors, AMD Radeon HD 6630M discrete graphics, or a quad-core Intel Core i7 powered server configuration. Designed without an optical disc drive, Mac mini can access the optical drives on other PCs and Macs, and works with the MacBook Air SuperDrive. Configure-to-order options include up to 8 GBs of memory, a faster 7200 RPM hard drive and a 256GB solid state drive.

Next, the MacBook Air update was also evolutionary, but brought back some nice features, including a backlit keyboard (starting at $999):

With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is up to twice as fast as the previous generation and has all the power you need for editing photos and movies, making FaceTime® calls, playing games, and working with documents and presentations. MacBook Air also features Intel HD Graphics 3000 and offers up to 4GB of faster 1333 MHz memory.

Finally, Apple released the $999 Thunderbolt Display, which looks a lot like the prior LED Cinema Display, but acts as a bit of a docking station for Thunderbolt-equipped Macs:

With a beautiful 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design, the Thunderbolt Display uses IPS technology to provide a brilliant image across an ultra wide 178 degree viewing angle. Any Thunderbolt-enabled Mac notebook can dock with the display to quickly and easily create a full-fledged desktop solution. The Thunderbolt Display includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera for crisp video conferencing, a 2.1 speaker system for high quality audio, an integrated MagSafe charger to keep Mac notebooks charged, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

The Thunderbolt Display is the world’s first display to include Thunderbolt I/O technology. Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, each Thunderbolt port delivers PCI Express directly to external peripherals such as high performance storage and RAID arrays, supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. Thunderbolt-based Macs with discrete graphics can drive two external displays giving professional users over 7 million additional pixels of display real estate and the ability to daisy chain additional Thunderbolt devices, as well as video and audio capture devices.

Notably absent from the announcement and Apple’s web site? The polycarbonate plastic white MacBook seems to have been discontinued, except for educational institutions.

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