Apple ( AAPL) finally ended months of rumor and speculation about its laptop strategy Tuesday, when it unveiled its first sub-$1,000 MacBook.

By cutting the price for the entry level, white plastic MacBook from $1,099 to $999, the firm is hoping to tap into holiday season demand, although there are still many cheaper options available for cash-strapped consumers.


Steve Jobs: The Man, the Myth, the Turtleneck


Apple CEO Steve Jobs also said at an event at its campus in Cupertino, Calif. that new MacBook Pros, as well as upgraded versions of the company's MacBook Air and MacBook, will use a graphics chip from Nvidia ( NVDA) that was not available in earlier versions of the notebooks. "This is huge," he said. "This is an amazing chip."

With Apple's stock falling dramatically during the recent economic downturn, Tuesday's event was seen as critical for the company's fortunes. The Internet has been rife with talk of notebooks built from a single piece of aluminum and new low-cost offerings.

The speculation before Tuesday's event was that Apple would come out with a laptop to compete with many other companies touting mini-laptop computers priced for less than $500. Among others they include Asus, Dell ( DELL), H-P ( HPQ), Lenovo, Intel ( INTC), and MSI.

While the rumors about the new aluminum manufacturing technique proved correct, reports of an $800 entry-level laptop were wide of the mark, which may explain the market's less-than-positive response to the Cupertino event. Apple shares closed down $6.18, or $5.6%, to $104.08.

"Obviously, the market was anticipating a lower figure, that's absolutely clear," said Kevin Keller, a hardware analyst at iSuppli. "It seems like the hype was a little overblown."

As anticipated, though, the tech giant unveiled MacBooks built from a single piece of aluminum Tuesday, which it claims will be more robust than traditional laptops, while using half the number of components during the manufacturing process.

The aluminum casing is available on new versions of the MacBook Pro, an upgraded MacBook Air, and a high end-version of the standard MacBook.

Rumors that Apple was planning to boost the performance of its notebooks with faster graphics were also confirmed at the Cupertino 'Town Hall' event.

Apple's Job also took a swipe at the constant rumors about Steve Jobs' health during Tuesday's event.

Aat one point, Job's blood pressure reading --- 110/70 --- appeared on a giant screen behind the company's CEO. "This is all we're going to talk about on Steve's health today," said Jobs, "If you want to see this number go higher, try asking more questions."