Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to use Toggle DDR 2.0 NAND flash memory in next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for cool details about features for Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air, you might like this.

Per Macotakara, Apple is rumored to adopt “Toggle DDR 2.0,” a 19-nanometer process for NAND flash memory offering 400 megabyte-per-second speed, in its next MacBook Air.

Citing a person with an “Asian electronics component company,” the report said that the new technology will replace the Blade X-gale found in the current MacBook Air models.

The new 19-nanometer flash memory is said to be packaged on a smaller chip, and will be soldered onto the base circuit of the new thin-and-light notebook directly.

The report noted that the Open NAND Flash Interface Working Group, which standardizes NAND flash, has released the ONFi 3.0 specification for 400MBps speeds, but most memory processing companies do not yet offer compatible chips. It said that “Toggle DDR 2.0,” which is a standardized procedure from the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, is believed to have been embraced by Apple.

Apple’s MacBook Air was made thinner and lighter with a new model released last October that features instant-on capabilities with no hard drive and no optical drive. The ultraportable notebook sports only NAND flash memory for storage.

That storage was initially provided by Toshiba, but later changed to Samsung. The change allowed for read times to be upgraded to 261.1MBps, from 209.8Mbps, while write times were boosted to 209MBps from 175.6MBps.

Rather than relying on traditional 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch SSDs, the new MacBook Air drives utilize a new form factor known as mSATA. After the thinner and lighter MacBook Air was unveiled last year, Toshiba announced its Blade X-gale SSD series, the same hardware found in Apple’s thin-and-light notebook.

Apple is said to have built nearly 400,000 of its next-generation MacBook Air last month in preparation for a launch that is expected to occur soon. The anticipated new notebooks are believed to feature Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port.

While new MacBook Air hardware is expected to launch soon, it will not debut until Apple’s next-generation operating system is released. It’s also been reported that Apple would freeze the introductions of new Mac hardware until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is released. The “Golden Master” of Lion was released to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen, Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air expected to ship in mid-July

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Date: Wednesday, June 29th, 2011, 08:39
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

And “Gossip Girl” still on the air (for better or for worse).

Per the cool cats at 9to5 Mac, a new series of rumors has narrowed down the expected ship date of the next-generation MacBook Air, complete with Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge architecture, to mid-July. The tip emphasized that the systems would be virtually identical in external design outside of the switch from Mini DisplayPort to Thunderbolt.

The systems are already known to be shipping with Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and hint that Apple will be making the new OS available on or near the same day. Intel’s newly shipping low-voltage Core i5 and i7 chips are widely presumed to be coming along, although Apple may only use these for the 11-inch Air and reserve existing, faster 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz processors for the 13-inch system.

The new Air is expected to be a major leap in performance. Although the Intel integrated graphics will just be on par with the GeForce 320M they replace, the underlying processors will bring Apple’s systems from behind equivalents in performance to equivalent or sometimes ahead. An update is also an opportunity to close gaps in RAM or storage.

One rumor has the 11-inch Air dropping to US$899 to lure in more buyers. Apple’s typical pattern is more often to upgrade features for the same price, and it may consider this a top priority given just 64GB of storage in its starter model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy puts hold on MacBook Air orders, next-gen units expected soon

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Date: Monday, June 27th, 2011, 04:58
Category: MacBook Air, News

National retailer Best Buy has put a hold on online MacBook Air orders, providing further evidence that Apple plans to release an updated version of its diminutive laptop.

Per Electronista, Best Buy’s listings for the current-generation MacBook Air are now listed as “Not Available for Shipping.” Meanwhile, all MacBook Air models on Apple’s Online Store remain ready for shipping.

Best Buy continues to offer the portables in its brick-and-mortar retail stores, though some locations have reportedly run out of stock. In the U.K., the big-box retailer allows orders for a MacBook Air with 128GB of storage, but only with in-store pickup at certain locations.

Apple is expected to refresh the MacBook Air line with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and the addition of the Thunderbolt port. However, sources close to the story have stated that Apple is waiting until it can load a Gold Master build of Mac OS X Lion onto the notebooks before releasing them.

Mac OS X Lion is due for release on the Mac App Store in July. As a major upgrade to Apple’s flagship desktop OS, Lion will include more than 250 new features such as full screen apps, additional multi-touch gestures and Mission Control.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel lists three new processors that could find their way into next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 05:56
Category: MacBook Air, News, Processors

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With everything that’s being said about Apple’s upcoming next-gen MacBook Air, it’s time to meet the potential processors for the notebook.

Per CNET, Intel has added three new high efficiency Sandy Bridge CPUs to its product catalog, likely representing the chips Apple will use in its next refresh of the light and thin MacBook Air.

The ULV (ultra low voltage) parts consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, as opposed to the mainstream Sandy Bridge chips Apple uses in its full size MacBook Pro lineup.

The standard Sandy Bridge chips in Apple’s Pro notebooks dissipate 25 to 35 watts, making them too hot (and too battery taxing) to use in the considerably thinner Air machines.

The new lineup consists of three part numbers:
- Core i7-2677M: dual cores running at 1.8 GHz (peaking to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$317

- Core i7-2637M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, listing for US$289

- Core i5-2557M: dual cores running at 1.7GHz (peaking to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, listing for US$250

Intel sees a big market for notebooks similar to Apple’s MacBook Air, which the chipmaker calls “ultrabooks.” When Apple first released the Air, it was criticized for not being thin enough and giving up too many features while using a full sized keyboard.

Apple has since made the Air lineup thinner and reduced the price while retaining a full size keyboard and moving exclusively to SSD storage, which supports very fast booting, wake and program launching.

The report cited analyst Doug Freedman of Gleacher & Company, who refers to machines like the Mac Book Air as “SSD notebooks,” as commenting that “In the 4-year lifespan of [Apple's] iconic MacBook Air, units sold as a percentage of its total notebook supply was 8 percent in 2008, 9 percent in 2009, and 17 percent in 2010 to an estimated 48 percent in 2011.”

“We expect total notebook SSD penetration at a conservative 5 percent in 2011 growing to 30 percent in 2014,” Freedman stated. He noted that Intel is planning to bundle its own SSD storage devices with its CPUs to sell PC makers packages of components, something the company already does with CPUs and chipsets.

However, Apple introduced SSD options for its latest MacBook Airs using specialized components rather than conventional SSDs built to fill the same space as a conventional notebook hard drive, such as those built by Intel. That has enabled the company to further reduce weight and thickness in the Air designs.

If you have any thoughts on the next-gen MacBook Air, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to offer black matte option with next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 10:34
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

You might like this.

Per MacRumors, sources have stated that Apple will offer the option of a black finish on its next-generation Sandy Bridge powered MacBook Air ultraportable notebooks expected to arrive in the near future.

Citing “several anonymous tips,” the site reported on Monday that Apple will will offer “at least some models” of its next MacBook Air with a black finish. That would be different from the aluminum currently found on all MacBook Air models.

“The most specific of the claims suggests that a black anodized aluminum case would be available on a top-end MacBook Air model, in much the same way as Apple once offered a high-end black MacBook on top of the standard white offerings,” the report said.

Author Eric Slivka said the site is “unable to confirm the rumors,” but given the fact that numerous tips have been received, the information was shared “for interest and discussion.”

It’s been stated that Apple is ready to build nearly 400,000 next-generation MacBook Airs this month in preparation for the anticipated launch. The new hardware is expected to sport Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port codeveloped by Apple and Intel.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower US$999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple sitting on MacBook Air product refresh until Mac OS X 10.7 is released

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 06:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Apple is sitting on at least one refresh of its Mac notebook line, waiting for Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) to be released in July.

Per Macworld UK, sources close to the story have said that new MacBook Air models featuring Intel Sandy Bridge processors and the Thunderbolt expansion port have been ready for some time, but Apple doesn’t want to release them featuring the old Mac OS X 10.6 operating system. This was released in June 2009.

The Macrumors.com Buyer’s Guide, which tracks the intervals by which Apple refreshes its hardware, supports this view. It shows all portable Mac products are reaching the end of their typical sales cycle, with the exception of the MacBook Pro, which was updated earlier this year. The Mac Mini is also due for an update.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is due in July and is more than a simple operating system upgrade. The new OS hooks users into iCloud, Apple’s new storage service, which offers benefits including seamlessly storing music and personal files online. iCloud represents a major new direction for Apple, which sees it as a way of tying together its various desktop and mobile platforms, as well as providing an additional method for delivering media to users.

In the past Apple overcame the issue of hardware releases not chiming with OS X release dates by bundling CPU Drop-In discs with new Macs. The computer came an older version of the OS preinstalled, while the disc allowed the user to manually upgrade to the latest release at their leisure.

However, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will only be available for download via the Mac App Store, installed on all Macs running the current Mac OS release. OS X Lion will not be available on DVD in any way, shape or form — making it unavailable via traditional retail channels too.

Theoretically it should still be possible for Apple to bundle a voucher code that would allow users to upgrade for free via the App Store. However, Apple is traditionally resistant to registration keys of the kind that blight the life of Windows users. Mac OS X retail releases have never used them, for example, and retail releases of the iWork productivity suite have dropped the need for registration keys completely. The Mac App Store also avoids the needs for registration by using digital rights management to tie the software to a user’s computer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple continues initial next-gen MacBook Air production run, begins certifying components for iPad 3

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Date: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 07:05
Category: iPad, MacBook Air, Rumor

A new report corroborates earlier indications that Apple will begin production of revamped MacBook Air notebooks this month, while also adding an unverified tip on a high-resolution iPad 3 reportedly coming later this year.

Per Reuters, Apple will begin selling the new MacBook Air in late June with an initial shipment of 380,000 units.

According to the Economic Daily, when shipments of the new MacBook Airs are combined with shipments of the existing model, 460,000 units are expected to be produced this month.

Over the weekend, one tipster claimed that revitalized MacBook Airs would arrive this week, but eventually revised his story to suggest that Apple would actually begin carrying unlocked iPhone 4s at Apple Stores in the U.S.

The report also claimed that Apple will launch the iPad 3 in the fourth quarter with “image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad 2.” But, it should be noted that the rumor appears highly unlikely and is reported here for the sake of completeness.

While numerous reports of an upgraded iPad 3 with a doubled resolution of 2048 x 1536 already exist, the resulting display would have four times the amount of pixels. Various sources have also hinted that the iPad 3 will not arrive until 2012.

Apple has reportedly begun certifying components for the iPad 3, but component makers expect the device to come out next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to enter mass-production in June

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 11:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for the upcoming MacBook Air, it might be closer than you think.

Per AppleInsider, the second-generation of Apple’s revitalized MacBook Air notebooks are scheduled to enter mass production during the month of June, with an initial build volume hovering around 400,000 units.

Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the Mac maker has placed orders for the production of a total of 380,000 Sandy Bridge-based 11.6 and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs this month.

The analyst, whose industry checks have long provided accurate insight into the Cupertino-based company’s future hardware plans, notes that roughly 55% (or 209,000) of those MacBook Airs will be of the 11.6-inch varieties, which have proven slightly more popular than the 13.3-inch offerings due to their more attractive entry-level price points.

In addition, Kuo notes that Apple plans to wind down production of existing MacBook Airs this month with a final run of 80,000 units, bringing the total number of MacBook Airs slated for production in June to 460,000.

The new thin-and-light MacBook Air launched in late 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model and a lower US$999 introductory price. The device was an instant hit, and made the MacBook Air one of the most popular products in the Mac lineup overnight.

And a big part of that notebook lineup has become the MacBook Air. A source familiar with Apple’s supply chain stated back in March that the ultra-thin notebooks were then selling in volumes roughly half that of MacBook Pros, as customers have embraced the thinner, lighter and less expensive offerings during a phase when computing is increasingly shifting to the mobile space.

Apple shipped more than a million units of the new MacBook Air in its first quarter of availability, but rumors of an upgraded model with Intel’s latest generation Sandy Bridge processors quickly began to swirl as far back as February.

The new MacBook Airs set to go into production this month will move to to Intel’s 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge architecture, with the chipmakers’ latest ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips. With the upgrade to Sandy Bridge, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips found in the current offering.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.