Apple Releases Mac OS X Lion and New Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Airs
As expected, Apple today released Mac OS X Lion on the Mac App Store for $29.99. Also debuting are new Sandy Bridge MacBook Airs, which are said to be “up to” twice as fast as the previous generation (on which I’m typing this), and now include high-speed Thunderbolt ports, Bluetooth 4.0, and backlit keyboards. The Mac Mini also received a refresh, dropping its optical drive and adding a Thunderbolt port, and Apple also released a new 27″ Thunderbolt display. For filmmakers, Lion and Thunderbolt are the main stories.
More on OS X Lion in a bit; for now, my main question about the new Airs is whether they’re fast enough for mobile video editing. The answer would seem to be yes, as my current MacBook Air runs Final Cut Pro (both X and 7) relatively well, as long as we’re talking ProRes footage. But the new Airs also move away from discreet nVidia graphics to an integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset, which shares memory with the laptop’s main RAM. While Apple notes it has a “on-chip engine for video encoding and decoding,” which Final Cut Pro X will presumably take advantage of with its OpenCL architecture, no one will know how well these laptops fair until they’re in the wild.