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Thursday, December 09, 2010, 11:00 pm PT (02:00 am ET)

Five years of Apple: 2005 iBook to 2010 MacBook Air


New MacBook technologies of the last five years

While the dramatically thinner and lighter body of the unibody MacBook Air is impressive, Apple's leap from PowerPC to the Intel architecture, initiated in 2006, is also a feat few other platforms have managed to accomplish so smoothly, achieving both backward compatibility with existing software and taking full, unrestricted advantage of the new processor architecture Intel offered.

Thanks to that leap, Apple's latest MacBook Air can also, notably, run Microsoft's Windows 7 natively (in either its 32-bit or 64-bit editions) as well as running 64-bit Mac OS X software.

Beginning with the original MacBook Air in 2008, Apple pioneered an entirely new construction method for notebooks using precision water-etched aluminum unibody frames, which set a high new bar in delivering a strong and rigid yet lightweight shell that was ideal for wicking away heat.

More subtle advancements over the past five years include the addition of an integrated FaceTime (nee iSight) camera, as well as Apple's use of the new DisplayPort standard, which currently supports an external video output resolution of 2560x1600 on the entry level MacBook Air, via either DisplayPort, DIV/HDMI, or VGA. The 2005 iBook could only officially support 1024x768 output using a VGA cable. A variety of new low end PC notebooks (including Google's new netbooks designed for testing Chrome OS) continue to use VGA output.

iBook MacBook Air


On page 3 of 3: The incredible shrinking 'book, Learning from iOS devices.