Apple Adds Thunderbolt to MacBook Air, Mac Mini

At the same time Apple released its long-awaited Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (in a first, via online-only distribution), the tech giant also updated two of its Macintosh computers to include the Thunderbolt external bus technology that provides transfer rates of up to 10Gbps and supports storage, network, and video connections. The MacBook Air slim laptop and the Mac Mini small-footprint desktop both now come with Thunderbolt. The MacBook Pro and iMac were released with Thunderblt ports earlier this year. Only the Mac Pro ships without Thunderbolt.

The Air also comes with a backlit keyboard, a feature dropped in the MacBook Air release of last fall. Both the MacBook Air and Mac Mini also sport Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, depending on the configuration, providing what Apple says are significant speed increases of about 200 percent. The graphics processors have also been updated with faster versions.

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The basic Air model is priced at $999, and displaces the now-discontinued white MacBook (which had the same baseline price) as Apple's entry-level laptop.

The baseline Mac Mini costs $599, but has no input devices or monitor. The Mac Mini continues to be available in a $999 model optimized for Mac OS X Lion Server; that model has two 500GB hard disks rather than the single 500GB disk in other configurations, and an i7 processor rather than the i5 processor in other Mac Mini models.

Apple also released an updated version of its $999 Cinema Display with Thunderbolt ports.

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