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A roundup of hardware news, Wed 7/20: Thunderbolt, MacBook Air, Mac mini


In typical Apple epic poem fashion, the Apple Store went down early this AM and came back up shortly thereafter with new goodies -- and one valiant missing hero of days gone by.

First we saw the Thunderbolt-equipped Cinema Displays which were inadvertently leaked earlier this week.

Then we saw the expected MacBook Air spec bump, including a triumphant return to glowing keyboards. Thunderbolt is again a winner here, as the diminutive port will enable the Air to grow far beyond its tiny footprint.

The Mac mini was revamped without an optical drive, but with faster processors and that ubiquitous Thunderbolt port.

Finally, we bid adieu to the venerable (but sometimes maligned) MacBook. The plastic-clad "entry level" Mac portable traces its roots back to the iBook, one of the Macs which helped Apple regain its place in computing as an innovative and design-focused engineering company. The MacBook will still be available to schools, but it appears it was edged out between iPad and the 11" MacBook Air. Farewell, polycarbonate pal.

For more on how the new Mac mini stacks up against the Mac Pro, which hasn't seen a design revamp in a few years, check out "Mini vs Pro: consumer Macs grow up."

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