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Apple Intros MacBook Air at Macworld San Francisco

sub-notebook ships in two weeks, no optical drive, SSD drive available as option

Apple Computer today introduced MacBook Air, what Steve Jobs calls the world's thinnest notebook computer. He compared it during his keynote to the Sony TZ series at 0.76 inches versus 0.8 inches for the Sony, which is surprising considering Sony is the master of miniaturization.

The MacBook air features a 13.3-inch widescreen LED display, built in iSight camera and a full sized, backlit keyboard. It does not ship with an optical drive, though Apple will offer one for $99. It also features multi-touch gesture support for the trackpad, which will presumably make it easier to navigate the Mac OS.

It is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo, running at 1.6 GHz or 1.8GHz, 2GB memory standard, 80GB hard drive, (64GB SSD optional), 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR standard, and MagSafe, starting at $1799.

Image courtesy Apple

Image courtesy Apple

The company also showcased Time Capsule, essentially Airport Extreme with a built in 500GB or 1TB hard disk drive, priced at $299 and $499 respectively. Time Capsule gives you wireless backup capabilities.

The company also added some updates to the iPhone, including a partnership with Google and Skyhook to give the iPhone mapping capability in lieu of GPS. For iPod touch users, Apple has added Maps, stock quotes, Notes and Weather. The updates are free to new touch purchasers and $20 for existing touch users.

For iTunes, the company announced iTunes Movie Rentals with the following studios onboard: Touchstone, Miramax, MGM, New Line, Lionís Gate, Fox, WB, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Sony. This is somewhat similar to Netflix, which gives you a certain number of downloadable movies depending on the NetFlix plan you currently have. Apple also announced a price drop on the Apple TV, to $229 from 299 and added new features via a free software update.

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