Summary: Apple overhauls laptop lineup, intros new monitor

Changes to the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines highlighted Apple’s notebook announcements Tuesday, as the company unveiled new versions of all its laptops during a press event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

The new MacBook line introduces a new design for Apple’s consumer-oriented desktops—an all-metal unibody enclosure with a large glass trackpad which supports four new MultiTouch gestures. The MacBook now ships with LED-backlit displays just like Apple's MacBook Pro offerings.

The MacBooks are changed on the inside, too. They now come with an Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics chipset for improved 3-D graphic performance. That's been a major complaint about the otherwise popular MacBook—that its integrated graphics causes performance lags in graphically-intensive applications and games.

The MacBook comes in two models—a 2GHz Core 2 Duo configuration with a 160GB hard drive for $1,299 and a 2.4GHz offering with a 250GB hard drive for $1,599. The latter model also features a backlit keyboard. Apple plans to continue selling a white plastic MacBook with a 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo processor for $999.

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Like the MacBook, the new MacBook Pro models sport a unibody design and a redesigned glass trackpad. All of the connectors will be on the laptop’s left side—a nod to the design ideas that produced the MacBook Air earlier this year.

The new MacBook Pro comes in two 15.4-inch models—one with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo chip and 250GB hard drive for $1,999 and the other with a 2.53GHz processor and 320GB hard drive for $2,499.

While Apple focused on those two 15-inch models, the company also updated the $2,799 17-inch MacBook Pro. It now comes with a 1,920-by-1,200-pixel screen in either glossy or matte form. Processor speeds remain at 2.5GHz (though you can upgrade to 2.6GHz), while memory has increased to 4GB and storage capacity now reaches 320GB.

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While the most substantive changes occurred to the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, the MacBook Air was not left out of this round of updates. Apple’s ultra-thin notebook gets the same Nvidia GeForce 9400M core graphics chipset introduced to the other laptops. The MacBook Air now comes with either a 120GB hard drive or a 128GB solid-state drive option, an improvement from the 80GB and 64GB options available in the current Air models.

Apart from faster RAM and the addition of a Mini DisplayPort that replaces the old Mini DVI video connector, the MacBook Air models are otherwise unchanged from the $1,799 1.6GHz and $2,499 1.8GHz configurations currently available.

The new MacBook Air models ship in early November.

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In addition to remodeled laptops, Apple also introduced a new monitor built for laptops. The 24-inch LED Cinema Display features a Mini DisplayPort and integrated MagSafe charger that allows laptop users to plug in and power their notebooks. The new model is an LED-backlit monitor that’s arsenic-free and designed to consume less power than displays based on cold-cathode florescent lamp technology.

Read more on the LED Cinema Display

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