Ever since Apple discontinued its 12-inch PowerBook notebook PC in favor of larger widescreen units, many a computer fan has pleaded for its return. Now rumors are again popping up about a smaller MacBook Air revision ... it may be the machine everyone wants.
We've heard inklings of this rumor before—Apple was going to revamp the Air with a smaller screen to really sweep-up in the super-portable business laptop market—but this time there're some very definite sounding statements being made. According to fairly reliable rumor-source Digitimes, Apple's main notebook-maker partner Quanta has landed an order for 400,000 to 500,000 new machines sporting an 11.6-inch display, with delivery scheduled before the end of this year. The screen would be LED-lit, and based on earlier rumors the low-power Intel Core-i series chips would be nestled inside.
We tend to believe Apple could be considering a radical revamp of the Air—it hasn't upgraded the machine's specs in line with all the other Macs it offers, and though the Air was the first Mac to sport the aluminum unibody chassis, it hasn't had a style tweak since then. It even retains the old-style trackpad, with one large button.
A smaller Air also makes excellent market sense: It would be lighter, and thus even more impressive to users than the already-astonishing size and weight of the current Air, bringing all sorts of portability benefits. It's also taking a stab at one of the benefits of netbooks (their size) without compromising on a "full" computing experience. If a smaller, lighter, more powerful Air were sold at the same price—or even slightly lower, which may be possible given the change in components—then it could sell in big numbers into the enterprise market. Business folks who prize portability, and who'd love a bit of Apple chic would snap at it.
Plus, it would almost mark the return of the 12-inch PowerBook that Mac fans have yearned for for years.
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