White MacBook gets unibody design

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Apple on Tuesday announced an updated version of its low-end MacBook laptop, which will be available immediately. The new model, while still clad in white polycarbonate, now features the same unibody construction and bright LED-backlit screens as Apple’s other laptops, as well as the same glass multi-touch trackpad found in the MacBook Pro line.

The new 13.3-inch MacBook bears the same $999 price as the old model, but is powered by a 2.26GHz processor. It also features 2GB of 1066MHz RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip, and a 250GB hard drive.

This new MacBook has a familiar look, but it’s thinner, with curved edges. It's also slightly lighter—4.7 pounds compared to 5 pounds for the old design. Like Apple’s other MacBooks, it’s got a self-contained, non-swappable battery. Apple says that will boost battery life for the MacBook to seven hours, up from five hours in the previous model; it also means users will have to pay $129 for replacement batteries from Apple. As a result of the battery change, the bottom of the laptop has no feet—instead, the entire bottom surface is rubberized, save for eight screws.

The redesigned MacBook case introduces at least one other change from the previous model—the FireWire 400 port is gone. Apple’s MacBook Pro offerings are now the only Apple portables with FireWire ports.

The previous MacBook model was a holdover from the previous generation of MacBooks, and became the only MacBook when the aluminum-clad models became MacBook Pros in June 2009. It was available in a single $999 configuration, powered by a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo processor, with 2GB of 800MHz RAM and a 160GB hard drive. The white MacBook has featured Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics since January.

Updated at 9:41 a.m. PT to add details on battery life, weight, and the removal of FireWire from the new model.

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