Friday, February 29, 2008

Apple Unveils World's Thinnest Notebook Computer

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Tuesday unveiled an ultra-slim MacBook Air laptop computer that he billed as the world's leanest laptop.

In trademark theatrical style at the Macworld Expo opening in San Francisco, Jobs slid the laptop from a brown envelope typically used for inter-office mail.

A packed audience of notoriously cultish "Macintosh faithful" whistled, hooted and cheered for the laptop which came with a price tag of 1,799 dollars.

"It's the world's thinnest notebook (computer)," Jobs said with a smile. "We went out and looked at all the thin notebooks out there and tried to distill a best-of-breed."

MacBook Air is a lean wedge-shape, .16 inches (.40 centimeters) thin at the front and .76 inches (1.9 centimeters) thick at the rear. Jobs compared it to some of the market's thinnest laptops measuring .8 inches (two centimeters) at one end and 1.2 inches (three centimeters) at the other.

MacBook Air could easily fit inside its thinnest competitor, a Sony model, Jobs said.

World-leading computer chip maker Intel shrunk one of its fast dual-core processors by 60 percent at Apple's urging to fit the power into MacBook Air, according to Jobs.

"When we started this project we didn't think it was possible," Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said, briefly joining Jobs on stage.

"There were times we sweated over it, but at the end of the day we innovated."

Macintosh computers sales have surged due to what analysts describe as a "halo effect" from the company's trendy iPod and iPhone models. Apple has been aggressively trying to capitalize on the company's cache.

On the crowded Macworld show floor, author Arnold Reinhold autographed copies of his book "Switching to Mac."

The book has made it into the Top Ten best selling titles at online retailer and is in its second printing since it debuted with the release of the new Macintosh Leopard operating system in October.

"There are a lot of people switching," Reinhold told AFP. "If you had a Mac, you used to get resistance from PC people. Now, you get questions."

Reinhold predicts MacBook Air will add momentum to the trend of computer users switching from Windows-based personal computers to Macintosh models.

"We're a minority, but a growing minority," Reinhold said of Macintosh users, who represent about ten percent of total computer ownership.

"Just wait until somebody with a MacBook Air walks into a meeting room where people are working on some clunky PC laptops. That should get even more folks thinking of switching."

Apple has shipped more than five million copies of its new Leopard operating system for Macintosh computers since it launched in late October, according to Jobs.

"The MacBook Air could kick-start the ultra-portable laptop market," said Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin, noting that laptop models already constitute nearly half of Apple's flourishing Macintosh computer sales.

"The Air will be a big hit with the Mac faithful but also be something that attracts PC users."

Jobs pointed out that the lean laptops have easily recyclable aluminum casing and electronic components made from non-hazardous materials.

The segue was an effort to polish Apple's dim reputation among environmentalists who accuse the company of falling short when it comes to recycling used electronics and using Earth-friendly materials.

MacBook Air features innovations inspired by Apple's iPods and iPhone, according to Jobs.

For example, the compact hard drives in the laptops are the kind used in iPods, while touch pad controls in the computers mimic touch-screen "gesture" capabilities in iPhones.

"We learned from the iPhone and put it in our other computers," Jobs said.

MacBook Air notebooks weigh three pounds and have battery life of five hours. The ultra-lean laptops will begin shipping in two weeks, Jobs said.source:

No comments: