MacBook Air still starts at $849

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For those who missed out on the Black Friday specials, Amazon still offers the entry level Core i5 MacBook Air for $849.99 plus free shipping.  That’s a significant $150 off of retail and the lowest price available.  This latest MacBook Air includes an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz “Sandy Bridge” dual-core processor, 11.6″ 1366×768 LED-backlit display, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD, AirPort Extreme (802.11n wireless), Bluetooth 4.0, Facetime camera, Thunderbolt port, and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Amazon also still has the lowest prices on the entry level MacBook Pro ($1049).  Other price lows (mostly from MacMall) can be found here.
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New MacBook Pros launching as soon as next week at current price points

Last week we exclusively reported that the current line of MacBook Pros is severely constrained and that part numbers for a new MacBook Pro line had surfaced. Based on these similar internal part numbers, the new MBP’s design should be the same as the current design.

Now, we’ve received pricing for the new laptops and the prices for each unit are the same as the prices for the current generation.

With supplies only becoming more constrained, and with shipments already touching down in select countries, we think a launch next week is likely (between Tuesday and Thursday). That is, of course, if there are no unforeseen circumstances. Thanks Mr. X! 

One more thing… after the break:

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Why buying the 3TB Time Capsule is crazypants

We know Apple charges a premium on storage.  That’s why many people buy RAM and HDD/SSD storage for their Macs from third party retailers, saving lots of money.   With iOS devices, however, Apple is able to keep out third party upgrades because the devices are sealed shut.  That’s why a device with 16GB costs $100 less than a device with 32GB of RAM, which in turn costs $100 less than a device with 64GB of flash storage.  Apple buys Flash for less than anyone else on earth but mere mortals can get storage for a fraction of what Apple charges.

So here’s this Time Capsule thing.

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 $299 for 2TB.  To upgrade to a 3TB drive, you’ll need $200 more.  How absurd is this?  The difference between a 2TB and 3TB drive is like $40.

Not only is this beyond the call of the “Mac Tax” but it is crazy easy to get around.  For an extra $150 (Still $50 less than the 3TB model) you can buy a perfectly good 3TB USB Seagate or Western Digital hard drive from Amazon.  Then just plug it into the back of the 2TB model and you have 5TB of addressable space.    You’ve been able to use USB drives since 2008 as Time Machine backups or Network Attached Storage.

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Of course it is nice to have the drive in a convenient little package with only one plug, but for $200, only getting an extra TB seems a little absurd.   Read more

More on Apple's Airport/Time Capsule and a possible refresh


Image via Amazon

We’ve been tracking Time Capsule/Airport shortages reported earlier for about a week. Our sources noted that Airport Express has been plentiful but supplies of TimeCapsule and Airport Extreme have been tightening globally the way products usually do before a refresh.

What we do know is that Apple has been internally testing Time Capsules to cache Software Updates for both Mac and iOS devices.  The way we’ve heard it works is that the new Time Capsule learns which devices connect to it via Wifi.  It then goes out to Apple’s servers and downloads Software Updates for those products.

When the user wants to install the software update, the Time Capsule, which is also the router, routes you to the locally stored update, rather than downloading the whole thing over the Internet.  This works for iOS updates as well, though the updating still happened via the Mac.

Apple’s Mac OSX Servers currently do this for Mac businesses, so the technology already exists externally (though Mac OSX Server just downloads everything – without knowing which devices will be connected).

With Apple’s new iCloud component, we believe Apple has a chance to extend this functionality.  Perhaps Time Capsules could cache parts of your iCloud music locker that you use the most so that it speeds up the streaming process.  It could also cache large documents and files that get used often or even movies and photos you own.

While Macs have plenty of local storage, this would be particularly beneficial for iOS devices which are limited to Flash storage, especially AppleTV which has very little local storage.  As HD video gets bigger (1080P) Apple will need new ways to deliver and store this content.

The system could also work in reverse.  Apple could allow these new Time Capsules to back up your backups to the Cloud.

Will this be part of Apple’s iOS 5/Lion/iCloud announcement?  We’ll just have to wait and see. Read more