Updated MacBook Air: Works Better, Costs Less

Apple is making news with its updated MacBook Air -- because of the price. The 11-inch version of the new model starts at $899, one of the few times an Apple laptop has been priced less than $1,000.

Phililp Schiller, senior vice president for marketing, said in a statement that, "with the MacBook Air starting at $899, there's no reason to settle for anything less than a Mac."

The 11-inch MacBook Air offers 4GB of memory, a 128GB solid state drive, and up to 9 hours of battery life. It features a modest stepup in the CPU to a 1.4GHz Core i5-4260U, with Turbo Boost speeds available for the 11-inch up to 2.7 GHz. For $1099, the flash storage is boosted to 256GB.

'What's Not to Like?'

The 13-inch Macbook, priced at $999, provides up to 12 hours of battery life, a 1.4GHz processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.7 GHz, 4GB of RAM and 128GB solid state drive. For a drive of 256GB, the price is $1199. Options for customized configuration include a 1.7 GHz core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, up to 8GB memory and up to 512GB solid state storage.

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, described the updated models as "less expensive, slightly faster, with a slightly longer battery." With those specs, he asked, "What's not to like?"

But, he noted, if the laptop market overall is taken into consideration, "$899 is still a premium price point." The difference, he said, is that "Apple is providing a lot of value" for the money.

Greengart added that while it's "nice to see they're doing this price point, it's not because of a new strategy, but because they can."

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