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Apple Laptops Get iPhone-Like Trackpad, Lower Price

Apple touched up its line of laptop computers Tuesday with a minimal nod to the economic turmoil that might push consumers to be more frugal this holiday shopping season.

Apple avoided a major price cut to the Macintosh line, though it did lower its least expensive computer, the basic MacBook, by $100 to $999.

For the updated MacBook and MacBook Pro machines, Apple crammed more high-end features into thinner laptop casings, and made those developments slightly easier on the wallet.

In an event at Apple's headquarters Tuesday, Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and CEO, highlighted the new laptops' larger glass "multitouch" trackpad, which, like the iPhone, understands multi-finger gestures for spinning and zooming.

Jobs also said Apple switched from Intel to Nvidia as the supplier of the laptops' graphics chips. Jobs said the change speeds up processing-intensive activities—playing popular 3-D video games, for example—as much as six-fold.

The redesigned laptops are lighter than existing machines, and Apple touted a construction "breakthrough" in the way the casings are cut and tooled from aluminum, without a stronger skeleton fused to the insides.

At the lowest end of the redesigned laptops, a MacBook will cost $1,299, while the most expensive MacBook Pro, which comes with two graphics chips from Nvidia for extra fast graphics processing, costs $2,499. An updated MacBook Air, the ultra-thin portable notebook that does not have a CD or DVD drive on board, is $1,799.

The new machines can be ordered online Tuesday and are expected to reach Apple's retail stores on Wednesday.

Apple shares were down more than 5 percent Tuesday.

Squawk Alley