Steve Jobs unveils ‘world’s thinnest’ laptop


San Francisco : Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled what he called “the world’s thinnest notebook computer” in his annual Macworld address that also outlined upgrades to the iPhone, iTunes Movie Rentals and a wireless gadget that automatically backs up data from Mac computers and laptops.

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Tuesday’s address was seen by analysts as another step in Apple’s ultimate goal to dominate the digital living room with an ecosystem of computers and devices that allow users to seamlessly stream movies music and other content from one screen to another.

However, investors were unimpressed with the new products. Apple’s shares had risen three percent before the announcement but ended the day over five percent lower.

The MacBook Air laptop is less than two centimetres thick, features a backlit 13-inch (33 cm) screen, a full-size keyboard and a pad responsive to Apple’s multi-touch control gestures. It weighs in at less than 1.5 kg, Jobs said.

Selling in the US for $1,800, the laptop is powered by Intel’s 1.6 GHZ Core 2 Duo processor as standard, with an available 1.8 GHZ upgrade. It has 2 GB of RAM, battery life of five hours and an 80 GB hard drive. It has no built-in CD drive, but does offer an external drive for an additional $99.

Featuring built-in 802.11n wireless connectivity and a video camera, the MacBook Air goes on sale in the US in two weeks time.

“We’ve built the world’s thinnest notebook – without sacrificing a full-size keyboard or a full-size 13-inch display,” said Jobs. “When you first see MacBook Air, it’s hard to believe it’s a high-performance notebook with a full-size keyboard and display. But it is.”

The iTunes Movie Rentals service will feature films from all the major Hollywood studios and allow users to watch on PCs, Macs, iPods and iPhones.

Apple hopes its new technology will help it dominate the online movie rental business in the same way it dominates the sale of music tracks with iTunes. However the company faces more entrenched competition in the movie sector as established firms like and Netflix already offer similar services.

The new service allows movies to begin just seconds after an order is placed and could give Apple a major success.

“iTunes Movie Rentals instantly brings great movies from all the major studios directly to your iPod, iPhone, TV or computer – without having to drive to the video store or wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail,” Jobs said. “Movie lovers can now discover and enjoy movies as simply and easily as music lovers discover and enjoy music today on iTunes.”

“They really nailed it,” Jupiter Research vice president and research director Michael Gartenberg said of Apple’s move into movie rentals. “This is going to be extremely disruptive, doing for movies what the iTunes music store did for music.”

The new Apple TV device allows users to automatically stream content from the internet to their television sets and hi fi systems.

Jobs also announced software upgrades for the iPhone and iPod Touch to improve their online performance, including an automatic location finder that triangulates a user’s position from signals received from nearby cellphone towers and wi-fi stations.

Another new gadget announced by Jobs, the Time Capsule, combines an 802.11n base station with a server-grade hard disk that offers automatic wireless backup for every Mac in the house.

“Bring Time Capsule home, plug it in, click a few buttons on your Macs and voila – all the Macs in your house are being backed up automatically, every hour of every day,” Jobs said.