Apple unleashes the Lion, updates MacBook Air

Apple has unveiled the latest incarnation of its mainstream operating system, OS X Lion, and brought with it the much-rumoured refresh to the MacBook Air ultraportable laptop line.

The Apple Store is now live after its traditional pre-launch hiatus, with the download-only OS X Lion - which drops the 'Mac' moniker for the first time - ready for purchase on the Mac App Store for the princely sum of £20.99.

While Lion will be of interest to those upgrading their existing systems to the latest operating system, those looking to buy an entirely new laptop would do well to look at the revamped MacBook Air.

As rumoured back in May, Apple has timed a refresh of the ultra-slim MacBook Air hardware to coincide with the launch of Lion. The Lion-equipped systems now include Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors and a high-speed Thunderbolt port for peripheral connectivity.

The 11.6-inch base model, priced at the same £849 as its predecessor, includes a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3MB of cache, a 64GB SSD, and 2GB of 1,333MHz DDR3 memory with 4GB available at an extra cost.

Those looking for something a little snazzier can opt for the £999 option, which doubles the storage to 128GB - with 256GB available as an added-cost option - and includes 4GB of RAM as standard. If you need more power, a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 with 4MB of cache is available as an extra-cost option.

The larger 13.3-inch model starts at £1,099 and comes with 128GB of storage, a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 3MB of cache, and 4GB of DDR3 memory. £1,349 gets you 256GB of SSD storage, while still more cash will upgrade you to a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 chip.

Both sizes include two USB 2.0 ports, a single Thunderbolt port, and a headphone socket. The 13.3-inch model adds in an SD card reader, for which there wasn't any room in the 11.6-inch version.

The new MacBook Air is joined by a refreshed Mac Mini, which includes either a 2.3GHz or 2.5GHz Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 - or a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7, if you're feeling flush and buying online - along with a Thunderbolt port of its very own.

All the new products are live now on the Apple UK Store.