Apple Readies MacBook Air Add-Ons

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With the ultra-thin MacBook Air reaching stores soon, Apple is selling accessories that make up for the laptop's skimpy features. Apple is already taking orders for a slim external optical drive and an Ethernet adapter, both designed for the MacBook Air, that plug into the laptop's only USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. The accessories are designed to match Air's slim footprint, Apple said. Belkin and WaterField Designs are also cashing in, announcing notebook bags designed for the unconventional MacBook Air.

MacBook Air's Optical Drive

To make up for the lack of an optical drive in the laptop, Apple is taking orders for the MacBook Air SuperDrive on its Web site. The sleek drive can play and burn CDs and DVDs, and in the laptop's spirit, "takes up little space on your desk or tray table," according to the company. The portable optical drive measures 5.47 by 5.47 by 0.67 inches (139 by 139 by 17 millimeters) and weighs 0.71 pounds (320 grams). The drive plugs into Air's USB port, and doesn't require a separate power adapter.

The US$99 drive is available on Apple's Web site.

Ethernet Adapter for MacBook Air

To supplement wireless networking built into MacBook Air, Apple is selling the USB Ethernet Adapter for wired networking. The Ethernet dongle is light and plugs into Air's USB port, according to Apple. Available on Apple's Web site, the $29 adapter will ship in two to three weeks.

Video Connector for Air

Most of the older external multimedia devices -- TVs and VCRs -- can be connected to MacBook Air with Apple's Micro-DVI to Video Adapter. Designed specifically for the laptop, the adapter connects to a laptop's DVI (Digital Video Interface) port and includes S-Video and composite connectors that connect external multimedia devices like projectors to the laptop. The $19 adapter is available on Apple's Web site.

Belkin's Macbook Air Sleeve

A MacBook Air is too small for a conventional notebook bag, so Belkin has created a bag specifically for Air's slim profile. With a neoprene cover, the Sleeve bag can protect the MacBook Air from damage by absorbing shock, said Melody Chalaban, a Belkin spokeswoman. The Sleeve is small enough to be slipped into a bag or backpack, Chalaban said. A model of the Sleeve will come with a strap to hook the bag around the shoulder.

Starting at $29.99, the neoprene Sleeves will be available starting March. A $49.99 Sleeve, which will ship in May, includes leather and the option to access the laptop from the top or side.

WaterField's SleeveCase

WaterField Designs this month introduced SleeveCase, a hardcover bag designed to protect the MacBook Air from impact. The cover, made of thick synthetic nylon and neoprene, cushions the laptop while in transport, the company said. Over 50 sizes of the bag are in stock, WaterField said. The bags can be carried individually or slipped into a messenger bag, backpack or suitcase.

SleeveCase prices start at $38, depending on size and model. It started shipping earlier this month.

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