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Apple gets the Mac ultralight ready

Set to debut at January's Macworld, petite portable will cost $1,500

Rumors that Apple Inc. will unveil a new thin, lightweight MacBook in just over a month gained strength today as the CNBC cable network cited sources claiming the portable was real.

Jim Goldman of CNBC said that the subnotebook system will be 50 per cent thinner and lighter than the MacBook Pro, which is approximately 1-in. thick and weighs between 5.4 and 6.8 pounds, depending on the model.

Citing a source close to Apple’s Asian manufacturing partners, Goldman also said that the new notebook would use NAND flash memory in lieu of a traditional hard disk drive, and would be equipped with a 12-in. display.

Other reports, including one by Taiwan-based DigiTimes, however, have claimed that at least one display maker shipped 10,000 13.3-in. LED-backlit screens to Apple in November and will deliver another 90,000 this month. The displays, 13.3-in. rather than the 12-in. claimed by Goldman, are a good fit for the unnamed ultralight machine, since the LED-lit screens consume less power than traditional fluorescent-lit LCDs.

Currently, only the 15-in. MacBook Pro notebooks use LCD-backlit displays.

The retail price for the new Mac will be around $1,500, Goldman claimed, a price point that falls between the $1,099 of the cheapest MacBook and the $1,999 of the least-expensive MacBook Pro.

The subsize Mac will launch during the Macworld Conference & Expo, Apple’s annual blowout in San Francisco, which will run Jan. 14-18.