Well here we are. OS X Lion has finally been released to the general public through the Mac App Store. Most reviews have given praise to Apple’s newest OS, though there is room for improvement. I’m currently sans-Mac so I won’t be able to give a timely hands-on for the OS on the blog. Luckily, Apple has still provided me with other areas of conversation with some fresh new computers to lead the way into Lion’s future.
Everyone expected Apple to release new MacBook Airs with the debut of Lion and they did not disappoint. Last year Apple released heavily revised, flash-only versions of the ultra-portable notebook with their sneak peak of Lion in October. The refreshed portables were met with tons of praise for their accessible pricing, faster design, and multitouch trackpad. However, the Airs were hobbled by geriatric processors from the Core 2 generation. No longer. The new refresh brings the state-of-the-art Sandy Bridge processors, ranging from 1.6Ghz to 1.8Ghz with aggressive turbo boost as well. The clock speeds are not vastly different but the architectural differences make these chips over twice as fast as the old Airs. Graphics are supplied by the onboard HD 3000 which is capable enough, while RAM is faster and available in 4GB. The Air also comes equipped with Apple’s super fast Thunderbolt port, opening the door for professional applications in the light notebook. Apple has also taken the opportunity to kill off the white MacBook, truly ending an era for the computer maker.
The Mac Mini has also seen a Sandy Bridge refresh. Continuing to use mobile chips, the Minis now range from 2.3Ghz to 2.7Ghz in dual core variants. A quad core option is only available on the server edition, but regardless these chips are vastly more powerful than their predecessors. Graphics come from the HD 3000 or an AMD 6630M discrete chip. The Mi i eschews an optical drive on all models, further indicating Apple’s intentions to kill off physical media. Thunderbolt is also onboard. Best of all, the Mini returns to it’s introductory price of $599, $100 cheaper than previous models.
The big news in Thunderbolt is Apple’s new Thunderbolt Display. Once called the Cinema Display, the screen has been upgraded to support Thunderbolt and it’s daisy-chaining ability. This allows you to plug a Thunderbolt device into your display and a computer into the display and have the computer interact with the device instantaneously. It effectively males the display a thunderbolt hub for peripherals. Also included is the new FaceTime HD camera and slightly improved display quality. The display remains available only in 27-inches and for $999 while I miss the old 24-inch option.
Lion is here and Apple is looking good.