The MacBook Air could soon get a radical makeover with new tech thinking that'll spread throughout the Mac lineup. It's happened before, and the latest set of rumors are plausible.
The latest comes from Digitimes, a site that seems to have several sources inside Apple's Asian manufacturer base who from time to time leak it accurate information. It notes that both a new MacBook Air and next-gen iPod Touch are due to arrive in the "second half" of this year, which we can imagine is in the September/October timeframe--compatible with the time window when Apple has previously upgraded its iPods.
The Touch refresh is expected to bring the device up to a spec that matches its newly-redesigned cousin the iPhone 4. Digitimes has dug up enough info to confirm that the new iPod will get a 3-megapixel camera, which will record both photos and video and will be running an Apple A4 processor just like the iPhone. There's no mention of whether the new Touch will ditch its shiny plastic case and go metal-and-glass like the new iPhone, or if it'll get a low-res front-facing webcam to support outgoing FaceTime video conference calls (though thanks to a leak over at BoyGeniusReport we know for sure that a software tweak will let both iPod Touches and iPads accept incoming FaceTime calls, using AppleIDs as the device's "phone numbers").
But news of a redesigned MacBook Air is fascinating. The Air hasn't changed externally since it arrived with its signature super-thin chassis and oversized touchpad, unibody aluminum frame and 13.3-inch screen. It's had some internal tweaks, and now boasts a faster processor and more storage than when it first arrived as Apple's answer (or, more accurately, clever paradigm-changing parallel solution) to the netbook phenomenon.
Digitimes is saying the Air is getting quite a serious tweak, and will sport an 11.6-inch display, which does push it slightly toward the sub-notebook scale of personal computer. How Apple will do this is unclear, but we're imagining some clever tricks with a smaller bezel on the screen (and is it too fantastic to imagine OLED tech too? Yes, probably). Alongside this smaller display it'll be running an Intel Core i-series CULV processor, so it won't be as underpowered as a netbook and will thus be totally OS X capable. The machine's body will also be refreshed, and will likely borrow from the design and manufacturing expertise Apple's garnered from the iPad and iPhone designs, since it now will be "even slimmer and lighter" than before. Fans of the existing design will know how light and portable the existing Air is, so this is big news. Perhaps more importantly, Digitimes is also saying the new techniques are going to be so beneficial that Apple will likely roll them out through the rest of its design portfolio--so we can expect some radical changes perhaps.
And this last part of the rumor also adds significantly to its believability: The original Air represented a big design-change for Apple, and it championed the machined aluminum body that's now a company signature, so it's very plausible that Apple is using one of this iconic devices to once again refresh the design memes.
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