Apple touched up its line of laptop computers Tuesday with a minimal nod to the economic turmoil that might push consumers to be more frugal this holiday shopping season. Apple avoided a major price cut to the Macintosh line, though it did lower its least expensive computer, the basic MacBook, by $100 to $999.
For the updated MacBook and MacBook Pro machines, Apple crammed more high-end features into thinner laptop casings, and made those developments slightly easier on the wallet.
In an event at Apple's headquarters Tuesday, Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and CEO, highlighted the new laptops' larger glass "multitouch" trackpad, which, like the iPhone, understands multi-finger gestures for spinning and zooming.
Jobs also said Apple switched from Intel Corp. to Nvidia Corp. as the supplier of the laptops' graphics chips. Jobs said the change speeds up processing-intensive activities — playing popular 3-D video games, for example — as much as six-fold.
The redesigned laptops are lighter than existing machines, and Apple touted a construction "breakthrough" in the way the casings are cut and tooled from aluminum, without a stronger skeleton fused to the insides.
At the lowest end of the redesigned laptops, a MacBook will cost $1,299, while the most expensive MacBook Pro, which comes with two graphics chips from Nvidia for extra fast graphics processing, costs $2,499.
An updated MacBook Air, the ultra-thin portable notebook that does not have a CD or DVD drive on board, is $1,799. The new machines can be ordered online Tuesday and are expected to reach Apple's retail stores on Wednesday.