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Apple Preview: New MacBook On Deck

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- All eyes turn to Apple (AAPL - Get Report) yet again Wednesday, when the tech giant is expected to introduce a new, smaller version of the MacBook Air at a product launch event in California.

TheStreet will be blogging the unveiling as it unfolds via a live webcast.

As usual, Apple has given little away about today's event at its Silicon Valley headquarters, although both the Apple Insider and Engadget blogs have reported that a more petite MacBook Air is on deck. Citing an unnamed source, Engadget reported Wednesday that the new device will come with an 11.6-inch display, smaller than the 13.3-inch displays currently offered on the MacBook Air.

Ironically, screen size has been a hot topic at Apple this week, thanks to Steve Jobs' tirade against 7-inch tablets during the company's fourth-quarter conference call on Monday.

Macs are a key weapon in Apple's armory. Speaking during Apple's fourth-quarter conference call on Monday, Apple's CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that the company is enjoying strong double-digit growth in both desktop and portable Macs. Apple sold 3.89 million of the devices during the fourth quarter, a 27% increase on the prior year's quarter and comfortably above analysts' forecast of 3.76 million.

Apple Insider has also reported that the new MacBook Air will come with a form of enhanced disk storage, replacing Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Disk (SSD) storage with a cheaper alternative described as an SSD card.

The "Back to the Mac" event, which kicks off at 1 pm ET, is also expected to highlight a souped-up version of Mac OS X, dubbed "Lion." The new operating system would be the successor to Mac OS X version 10.6, better known as "Snow Leopard," which launched last year.

Apple's iLife software, which is used for organizing photos, movies and music on Macs, could also be set for a revamp, with the company enhancing its iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band offerings. Apple added new sections to its online discussion forum dubbed iPhoto 11, iMovie 11 and Garage Band 11, according to Apple Insider, although these categories seem to be no longer available on the forum.

Shares of Apple rose $1.51, or 0.49%, to $311, on Wednesday, despite a modest advance in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq gain 0.33%.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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