New MacBook Airs with OS X Lion, Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge in mid-July

Apple’s new MacBook Air line has been expected for weeks now, with evidence supporting a refresh coming by way of constraints at global retailers and most recently at major Apple reseller BestBuy.com. Although this refresh has been expected, a well-sourced and specific launch time frame is yet to emerge. Now, we’ve been told that Apple is gearing up to launch their upgraded line of ultra thin notebooks in mid-July.

The rumors regarding what the new laptops will feature have been conservative, and according to a person who has seen the new MacBook Air, exterior changes (if any) were so minute that they were not noticed. In other words, don’t expect to be able to tell this mid-2011 MacBook Air apart from the late-2010 model. That is, except for the Thunderbolt logo that sits in place of the Mini Display port logo.

Also, as expected, these new models will pack Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and are likely the models that Intel recently made available for thinner notebook lines:

  • Core i7-2677M: 2 cores, 1.8GHz (turbos to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, 17 watts, $317
  • Core i7-2637M: 2 cores, 1.7GHz (turbos to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, 17 watts, $289
  • Core i5-2557M: 2 cores, 1.7GHz (turbos to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, 17 watts, $250

In addition, the new notebooks, launching in mid-July, come with OS X Lion pre-installed. Apple shipping out their next-generation operating system with these new Macs would also mean a mid-July launch for 10.7 Lion. An exact release date for both products is yet to be pinpointed, but we’ve been hearing rumblings about July 14th, which is a Thursday.

Also, Apple is holding their financial results conference call on Tuesday, July 19th. Apple typically releases products during the days leading up to the financial results announcement (so they have something interesting to talk about). iPhones and iPads often are released the Friday before earnings, which would be the 15th.

Of course, Apple’s traditional product launch day is Tuesday, which would be the 12th or the 19th. In any case, we’re looking at Lion and new MacBook Airs in about 2-3 weeks. We are also looking, according to recent reports, at new Mac minis and Mac Pros soon after these upgraded MacBook Airs.

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Sony debuts Light Peak product in Europe with external GPU

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It looks like the report that Apple has a lock on Light Peak technology for a year was wrong.  Sony has gone ahead and announced their first Light Peak product in Europe and perhaps most interestingly, it contains an External GPU.  TIMN summerizes:

The vertically standing peripheral (pictured above) uses Intel’s Light Peak (yes, the same thing as Apple’s Thunderbolt) via a proprietary port and USB 3.0 socket to connect to the laptop. And not only does it provide an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of VRAM, but also allows you to connect up to three additional displays via its HDMI and VGA ports.

One of the promises of Thunderbolt was External GPU video cards.  Imagine hooking your Thunderbolt-equipped, Sandy Bridge MacBook Air (with crappy integrated Intel GPU) to an external Thunderbolt GPU which drives a few 27-inch screens?

I like where this is going.

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CES: Light Peak ain't ready for prime time

We’ve been hoping Light Peak might make an appearance in new Macs since the technology first made an appearance working with a lab demo Mac Pro in 2009. We’ve been excited for the super-fast and super-flexible connectivity standard ever since — now it seems there’s a way to go before its ready to hit the market, according to Intel.

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