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Is This Mac For You?

It may be only a dollar shy of a thousand bucks, but that's an important psychological barrier to break for many consumers. Yes, you can now buy a MacBook laptop for $999.

[ed note: catch our own David Zeiler's Apple a Day expertise on the announcement, details on the new upgrades at Apple, and the somewhat disappointing pricing drop -- DD]

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Some seem to think that dropping the price of the front-line MacBook by $100 in Apple's latest round of upgrades to its laptops will attract more people who've sat on the sidelines, hoping for these coveted little machines to come down in price. For days and weeks, the Web has been abuzz with rumors that Apple would introduce a sub-$900 laptop. That didn't happen today. Instead, consumers hungry for new Apple products saw a few new laptops with some nice touches that may, or may not, make you drool.

Apple is offering a $999 "white MacBook" that's been "updated" for the budget-conscious crowd; but it has specifications that don't depart much from the previous Macbook incarnation.

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If you were waiting on making a big computer purchase in this tough economy, is this lower price enough to make you walk into an Apple store and plunk down your hard-earned dough? If you're willing to spend more money, then hit the jump for some more details about the pricier new MacBooks (see the photo above), which are catching all the buzz today.

You have to bump up another $300 in price -- to $1,299 -- to get a taste of Mac's newest design elements in the MacBook line.

The most obvious new "wow" feature: the pricier MacBooks are built using Apple's new "unibody" manufacturing process, where they essentially make them out of one "brick" of aluminum. (The $999 MacBook is made of polycarbonate, a very tough plastic.) With this process, Apple is claiming that it can make a beefier computer that, nevertheless, is thinner and lighter -- but don't take my word for it. Check out the official specifications here. They're using the same process for the MacBook Air, that super-thin laptop they debuted several months ago.

Apple claims the computers are slimmer and lighter, and need fewer parts. Other new features include a glass LED monitor, a glass touchpad, and a new NVIDIA graphics processor that promises faster performance for gaming and image manipulation.

Want to read more about the new MacBooks? Here are some links:

* Check out Apple's press release here. Patting themselves on the back, Apple notes their newest MacBooks set a "new standard for environmentally friendly notebooks."

* Matthew Elliott, from over at CNET.com's Crave blog, offers a handy comparison of the new MacBook lineup vs. the previous one -- with screenshots of the new and old pricing. Handy.

* Gearlog, the "gadget guide for geeks, by geeks," does a good job of covering some of the changes to the Mac's higher-end laptops: the MacBook Pros.

* Scientific American also has their own "new MacBooks" story to contribute.

If you're one of those impulse buyers who orders one of these computers online today, drop us a line to let us know why you did so. Were you saving up for weeks/months for this new rollout today?

(MacBook photo courtesy of Apple Inc.)

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