Now at the Apple Store: Mac OS X Lion, New MacBook Airs, Mac Mini and Thunderbolt Display

Following the Third Quarter Earnings Report yesterday, Apple released new hardware and the new operating system this morning.

OS X Lion

The latest version (10.7) of Apple’s operating system is now available for download through the Mac App Store for $30. In August, the company states that it will offer a USB drive with the operating system for $69. The new operating system boasts a number of upgrades, but most importantly, Apple has structured its accounting practices surrounding the new system and hardware so that newer features can be added incrementally. This means that the company can add new features over time, without facing issues with the IRS.

Apple made it clear that they want users of their products to use the most up-to-date version of software available. While that certainly creates an incentive to convince users to upgrade to newer hardware, it offers some tangible benefits. First, it means that unlike in the Windows world, a higher percentage of users will be running the latest security and bug patches, reducing malware potential. Secondly, this means that developers are incentivized to leverage the latest technologies in Apple’s software development kits (SDK) without fear of decreased sales.

MacBook Air

With the latest-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, and all-flash storage, MacBook Air isn’t thin on features.
As expected, the new MacBook Air models were released today. While appearing virtually the same as the models most recently available, there are some important changes. Like most of the rest of Apple’s product line, the new ultralight notebooks have the high speed Thunderbolt port that allows connection to external displays and high speed data storage devices. Faster processors are also included. For most users, the new MacBook Airs (all of which are priced under $2,000) will provide more than enough power to handle any task. Perhaps, the MacBook Pro models will once again assume a role as a tool for professional content creators, while the Air becomes the consultant’s staple.

Mac Mini

The new Mac Mini also includes faster processors and a Thunderbolt port. This tiny device, not much bigger than a typical external hard drive, offers incredible power, and with the input/output (I/O) options, can easily fill the shoes of a standard desktop computer. In fact, Apple is once again offering the option to purchase a Mac Mini with Mac OS X Server pre-installed. This model features quad-core processors and comes with two internal hard drives. The options include high-speed 500GB disks or dual 256GB flash-based SSD drives for incredible performance. The price: $999.

Thunderbolt Display

Apple’s beautiful 27-inch LED-backlit display has been refreshed to include Thunderbolt I/O, and has thus been renamed the Thunderbolt Display. The new model seems to have the same technical capabilities as the model it replaces, except for Thunderbolt. What does Thunderbolt do for the new display? Allow you to connect two external displays to a MacBook Pro, thereby creating perhaps the ultimate workstation:

Connect two Thunderbolt Displays to a 15- or 17-inch MacBook Pro or to an iMac and put an extra 7 million pixels to work. To make a desktop workstation out of your MacBook Pro, just daisy-chain additional Thunderbolt devices, including high-performance storage and video and audio capture devices, through the display.

Images from Apple.com