Apple Opens the Show With MacBook News

SAN FRANCISCO — Before a packed hall of more than 5,000 attendees, Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developer’s Conference with new MacBook Pro notebooks. Apple’s vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller unveiled new notebooks in its MacBook Pro line.

Key to the announcements was rounding out its MacBook Pro line by upgrading the 13-inch MacBook into the Pro line with new features and a price cut. The base model now starts at $1,199 with a 2.26 Intel dual-core processor, 2 GB RAM and 256 GB storage.

All of the MacBook Pro’s sport a lithium ion battery that Schiller says boasts a 7-hour battery life. The 15-inch MacBook Pro now has a lower price starting at $1,699. Apple also updated its MacBook Air, one of the world’s thinnest notebooks, dropping the price to $1,499 (a $300 decrease) with a 120 GB hard drive. A model with a 128 GB solid state drive is now $1,799, a $700 drop from the earlier price.

The pricing news from Apple comes at a time of notebook price cuts across the industry and the rise a new generation of smaller netbooks priced from $199 to $500.

Schiller said the new MacPro models are the “greenest” family of notebooks of any major vendor. They conform to the EPA’s energy star 5 rating that becomes official this summer. The 7-hour lithium polymer battery is rated for more than a thousand recharge cycles that Schiller said could, at about five years, outlast the life of a typical notebook. He compared this to most standard model notebook batteries that last only 300 recharges. “Most customers may never need to change their MacBook battery,” he said.

Snow Leopard, Safari, Exchange

Apple also previewed the new version of the Mac operating system, Snow Leopard, and offered a glimpse at a new version of its Safari browser, which it touted as faster than any other Web browser. The company also overhauled its QuickTime video player to put videos “front and center.” Controls disappear so the video alone can be viewed until the mouse is moved. A bar on the bottom previews pieces of the video for quick scrolling and video-editing. There is also an easy one-click export to services like YouTube and iTunes.

In a nod to corporate and business users, Apple said Snow Leopard will include built-in support for Microsoft’s Exchange mail server. The new OS is due out this September and will be available for all Intel-based Macs. The crowd of developers hooted in appreciation of news that the upgrade price for Snow Leopard will be only $29; that’s $100 less than the earlier $129 upgrade price for Leopard.

Look for updates from from WWDC later today

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