From a quick glance at the new MacBook models at Apple Store US site:
USB2 ports changed to USB3 on all MB models.
Upgraded all models to Intel HD Graphics 4000 chip.
Firewire ports dropped on the MB Pro. Oops.
Retsina Retina (oops) only on 15" MB Pro (as of this morning) as new top of the line.
Dropped the 17" MB Pro model.
Dropped the Superdrive on all MB Pros only on Retina MB Pro.
GHz increased by at least 1GHz on all MB models.
Flash Drive option added to MB Pro.
Looks to me that for a student like my niece, after considering all previous discussion here, the MacBook Air 13 inch model with 1.8Ghz i5 chip, 4GB RAM, and 128GB Flash Drive at $1199 would be good, along with an external USB 500GB drive for backups. I didn't ask details about her budget, but if she could afford it she could get the 256 GB Flash Drive in the MB Air.
For her situation I don't think expensive Retsina Retina (oops) display, faster GHz, or quad core i7 chip are necessary.
Last edited by unboggling; 06-29-2012 at 06:24 AM.