Apple finally pushed out a much-anticipated raft of new products. Its new desktop OS, OS X Lion, had been promised for a July release at the Worldwide Developers Conference, and some Mac followers had been getting downright impatient for a new MacBook Air, which also touched down. Meanwhile, Apple's little Mac mini is still going strong, and Cupertino also showed off an enormous display that will set you back about as much as a new Apple computer.
First up, Mac OS X Lion: It's the company's brand-new OS, and the only way to get it is by downloading it through the Mac App Store.This will be the first edition of OS X that Apple doesn't serve on a silver platter -- there will be no official Lion discs. That's not so surprising, though, because yet another Mac has dropped the optical drive.Back to the OS itself: Lion will support a new level of multitouch gestures, and it adds features like Mission Control, which gives you a full-system vantage point; Resume, which picks a program back up from where you last left it; and AirDrop, which assists in the sharing of data from one Mac to another.Conceptually, Lion is meant to meld aspects of Apple's desktop OS lineage with a few attributes picked up from iOS, its mobile device operating system. This has the potential to simplify key elements for the benefit of the overall user experience, but there's disagreement on whether it succeeds. Critics on one side of the debate say it occasionally crosses the line from simple to simplistic, and that certain parts of a desktop OS really should be more complex than a mobile OS. Others argue that its new features are welcome improvements, even though the transition to Lion can be a little disorienting.
Intel Sandy Bridge processors, along with 4 GB of memory. Other improvements include backlit keyboards and ports for Thunderbolt, the new double-wide data pipes Apple's been building into its latest hardware.But the arrival of the Air spells doom for another Apple product: the humble MacBook. The pale little notebook's been dangling sadly from Apple's roster for a couple of years now, and the floor models are usually relegated to the dustiest and worst-lit corner of whatever Apple Store you happen to find one in. They used to be the company's consumer-grade laptop, but that role now seems to be split between the 13-inch MacBook SemiPro and these new skinny little MacBook Airs. So it seems the white MacBook is now set to be shuffled off to the Mac museum.
The Mac mini's till going strong, though. It caught an upgrade to Intel's Core i5 and i7 dual-core chips, but just like the MacBook Air, there is no optical drive. It makes sense enough, at least for the company's lower-priced computers. Between iTunes, other media download services and the built-in Mac App Store, the CD slot is starting to serve about the same function as an appendix on a lot of computers. If you still need one, though, there's always Super Drive.
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