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Lion Launched

July 20, 2011 - Dave Hecei
This morning it was not much of a surprise that the next version of Mac OS X, 10.7 Lion, appeared on the Mac App Store. The news that it would be released today, Wednesday July 20th, was dropped by Apple’s CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, during their quarterly financial report. Lion is here and so far the reviews are very positive.

Along with the new OS X 10.7, Apple also released some new hardware items. The MacBook Air, Apple’s smallest and lightest of notebook computers, was updated as rumored. Both the 11 and 13-inch models now have current Intel processors, codenamed ‘Sandy Bridge’. They also now have both the new Thunderbolt I/O port and backlit keyboard, something the original Air had but was missing in the SSD models released last fall.

The new Air is still available in 11 and 13-inch models. The 11-inch base model has the new Intel Core i5 dual-core processor running at 1.6GHz. It also has a 64GB SSD (solid state device) hard drive, 2GB of RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 3000 video processor. The next step up has a 128GB SSD hard drive and 4GB of RAM. Pricing is $999 and $1199. The base 13-inch Air has a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 128GB SSD hard drive, and 4GB of RAM. The upper model has a 256GB SSD hard drive. The 13-inch Air is priced at $1299 and $1599.

There are a couple of differences between the 11 and 13-inch models, other than screen size. The 13 has a slightly bigger batter, giving it 7 hours of run time, compared to 5 on the 11-inch model. The 13 has all the same ports, but adds an SD memory card slot on the right side. This slot can read SD sized cards like the SD, SDHC, and SDXC.

Another new Mac updated today is my favorite, the Mac mini. This is another Mac that has been waiting for the Thunderbolt/Sandy Bridge upgrade. In a surprising move, Apple has eliminated the optical drive in all minis. This move really shows that Apple is putting a lot of faith behind the Mac Store, iCloud, and iTunes. I’m sure they are thinking that with these services why do we need CDs or DVDs anymore. Myself, I already have several external DVD burners, one of which is portable, which is small enough to sit on top of a mini and still have room left over.

The new mini is available in three forms, two desktops and one server. The base model now has the new Intel Core i5 dual-core processor running at 2.3GHz, 2GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, and uses the Intel HD Graphics 3000 video. The better desktop adds a 2.5GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and the AMD Radeon HD 6330M graphics chip. The base desktop mini has a lower price of $599 (a drop of $100). The upper model is $799.

The real killer is the new mini Server. This model never had an optical drive before so it still looks the same. Inside, for the first time, is an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor running at 2.0GHz. A quad-core processor in a mini – sorry I just had to say it again. Like the previous server model, the new mini server has dual hard drives. These are not the slower 5400rpm ones like the desktop model but drives that run at 7200rpm. The server model is priced at $999 and comes with the server version of OS X Lion.

All in all, this is pretty much what I was expecting to see today; except for the minis not having any optical drives. I will be downloading and installing Lion soon, sorry but I won’t update on the day of release even though reports of problems seem to be sparse. Now I just have to convince myself I need yet another mini in my house.


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