With little more than a noiseless digital “rawr” and an abrupt homepage image swap, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7, codenamed “Lion,” is now officially available via the Apple Store—make that the “Mac App Store” that lives on recently updated “Snow Leopard” Macs, not to be confused with Apple’s online web store, an actual Apple retail store, or this fake Apple Store someone spotted earlier in China (not a joke).
Lion boasts “250 new features,” a more iPad-like interface, automatic document backups, new touchpad gestures, a universal full-screen mode, a braindead-simple way to wirelessly exchange files with other nearby Macs and all that for just $29.99.
Of course if you want a copy of Lion and you’re reaching for your wallet and keys, hold up—you’ll have to download it (all 4GB, that is), and short of buying a new Mac preloaded with it, that’s the only way to get your mitts on Apple’s latest cat for now.
In tandem, Apple trotted out several new MacBook Airs (as expected), with updates to both the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch models “starting at just $999.” The latter price buys you the entry-level 11.6-inch (1366 x 768 resolution) 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 model with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB internal flash drive. Spend $200 more and you can bump up to 4GB RAM and 128GB of flash storage.
If you’d prefer the 13.3-inch (and slightly higher 1400 x 900 resolution) 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 model, prices start at $1,299 for 4GB RAM with 128GB internal flash storage, but leap to $1,599 for the same amount of memory with 256GB of flash storage (you can upgrade from 128GB to 256GB flash storage for $300).
Both models use Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 video processor, a “FaceTime” camera (presumably a camera with “just the right field of view and focal length” for FaceTime, like the iPhone 4), two USB 2.0 ports and the newer Thunderbolt media port.
Want a faster 1.8GHz i7 processor? You can add that, too, but only in the $1,199 11.6-inch and $1,599 13.3-inch models, and then only through Apple’s online store. Apple currently prices the upgrade at $150.
For the carry-conscious, the 11.6-inch model weighs in at 2.38 pounds (a tick heavier than the prior version’s 2.3 pounds), while the 13.3-inch model clocks in at 2.96 pounds (versus 2.9 pounds). As for battery life, it’s about the same: up to five hours for the 11.6-inch model, and up to seven for the 13.3-inch version.
Conspicuously absent from Apple’s online store this morning? The white MacBook, which appears to be dead to consumers, though TechCrunch says it’s hearing Apple may continue to sell it to K-12 schools.