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As expected, the new MacBooks Air arrived: Sandy Bridge chips, Thunderbolt and backlit keyboards

As recent rumors indicated, Apple today updated its MacBook Air line with new Intel ?Sandy Bridge? processors, Thunderbolt ports, backlit keyboards and, of course, the built-in OS X Lion.

New MacBooks Air aside with OS X Lion

Apple promises a performance up to twice that of the previous generation, since all machines continue to use NAND flash memories for storage. Prices start at $ 1,000 in the United States and new machines will hit stores tomorrow. In Brazil they start from R $ 3,000, with a forecast of leaving the warehouse for 5-7 working days.

"Portable, affordable and powerful, the MacBook Air is the best notebook for everyday use," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. ?The MacBook Air brings our most advanced technology and a perfect match for Lion, especially with its new Multi-Touch gestures, full-screen apps, Mission Control and Mac App Store.?

MacBook Air is still available in 11 and 13 inch versions, with battery life of 5 and 7 hours, respectively. The available processors are Core i5 and i7 dual-core state-of-the-art, with Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics cards and up to 4GB of RAM at 1,333MHz.

This update marks not only the incorporation of Thunderbolt ports in the line (which can be adapted to be used as FireWire or Gigabit Ethernet, in addition to connecting Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort displays), but also the return of backlit keyboards as in MacBooks Pro. The new line comes with OS X Lion pre-installed.

The new MacBooks Air continue to guarantee Apple the title of manufacturer of the ?greenest? notebook line on the market, meeting the requirements of Energy Star 5.2 and earning the EPEAT Gold seal.

The base model of the 11-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, 2GB of memory and 64GB of SSD, while the top-of-the-line, 13-inch comes with a 1.7GHz Core i5 chip, 4GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD for R $ 5,200 in Brazil. Users can configure laptops with Core i7 processors up to 1.8GHz and more NAND flash for storage.

The arrival of this new line also marks the end of white MacBooks.