Update: We've updated our hands-on video with additional impressions after our first 24 hours with the new MacBook Air.
The new hardware announced at Apple's Back to the Mac press event was on display immediately after for attendees to poke and prod, including the new 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air models. Beyond that, our review sample of the 11-inch version is now winging its way back to CNET's New York labs for testing and benchmarking.
My initial hands-on impression of the new MacBook Air is largely positive. This is a product that--in its previous life--had a dedicated cult following but never found a real mainstream audience because of its high price and because it didn't do enough to distinguish itself from the rest of Apple's 13-inch laptop lineup. It was thinner and lighter, but still not quite different enough to justify the hefty investment.
By doing more to differentiate the product, and dropping the entry price, the new MacBook Air may succeed in carving out more than an enthusiast niche for itself.
If anything, the addition of an 11-inch size is a nod to the past several years of laptop development, where small, inexpensive Netbooks started as a niche market, with 7- and then 9-inch screens, then moved into the mainstream with 10- and 11-inch versions. Since the start of the MacBook era, Apple had largely ignored the shift in laptop prices and sizes, opting instead to stick to the higher end of the market, and not going below 13 inches (although there are still many fans of Apple's older 12-inch PowerBooks out there). … Read more