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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