Apple updates featherweight MacBook Air laptops, revamps its hardware lineup

Taylor Hatmaker, Tecca
Technology News Blog

Today, in tandem with the debut of its newest operating system, Apple made some sweeping changes to its hardware lineup. While an update to the company's lightest computer, the MacBook Air, has long been rumored, Apple also revamped its Mac mini line, introduced a new 27" monitor, and killed off its entry-level white, plastic MacBook.

The MacBook Air update was the most anticipated of the bunch, and the new lightweight laptops sport a new Thunderbolt port, a boost in speed thanks to Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, and the expected return of the backlit keyboard. The MacBook Air's look remains intact, and the notebooks still come in an 11" and 13" variant, starting at $999 and $1299, respectively. The 13" base model now sports 4GB of RAM, so expect it to pack an even more impressive amount of power in a barely-there 2.96 lb.

Beyond the MacBook Air, Apple is marketing its newly-named "Thunderbolt Display," its glossy 27" looking glass into your computing world. The new displays feature a pixel-packed 2560 x 1440 resolution, a built-in FaceTime HD camera, and a host of ports, including a plug for charging your more more mobile Macs. The display also adds a high-speed Thunderbolt port, for connecting together up to 5 additional Thunderbolt-capable devices.

Apple also brought the less flashy (but eminently practical) Mac mini up to speed today. The new Mac mini loses the optical drive, so that means no more CDs without an external adapter, but adds a Thunderbolt port and the newest OS X Lion pre-installed, of course.

With so many new hardware announcements, sadly there's also been a death in the family: the white MacBook is no more. The entry-level laptop was the one lingering remnant of Apple's former design aesthetic, but the company will be positioning its ultralight MacBook Air line as the "ultimate everyday notebook," bringing all of its devices into the era of aluminum.

More from Tecca: