Report: MacBook Air refresh in early 2012, 15-inch model coming

Asian trade publication DigiTimes reported this morning that Apple is readying a MacBook Air refresh and looking to expand its ultra-thin notebook family with a brand new machine. Sometime during the first quarter of next year, according to sources from the upstream supply chain, the company will update existing 11.6- and 13.3-inch models and put out a new 15-inch model we’ve been hearing about before:

The sources noted that related upstream players have already started pilot production of the MacBook Air models and will add a 15-inch model into the product line to expand its reach in the ultra-thin notebook market.

Another interesting bit of the DigiTimes story is that Apple is expected to lower prices of the current lineup ahead of the refresh. The update should include a new Ivy Bridge processors that consume less power while providing a speed boost in the CPU and GPU department (also expected in the next MacBook Pro refresh).
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MacBook Air still starts at $849

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For those who missed out on the Black Friday specials, Amazon still offers the entry level Core i5 MacBook Air for $849.99 plus free shipping.  That’s a significant $150 off of retail and the lowest price available.  This latest MacBook Air includes an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz “Sandy Bridge” dual-core processor, 11.6″ 1366×768 LED-backlit display, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD, AirPort Extreme (802.11n wireless), Bluetooth 4.0, Facetime camera, Thunderbolt port, and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Amazon also still has the lowest prices on the entry level MacBook Pro ($1049).  Other price lows (mostly from MacMall) can be found here.
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You’ll find the top 3 Popular Science “Best of What’s New” award winners in Apple’s Macs

Popular Science Magazine is once again declaring their Best of What’s New Awards for 2011, and not so surprisingly this year’s top three spots in the computing category are all technologies that you will find in Apple’s latest lineup of Macs.

At number one we have OS X Lion which earned a spot for its ability to close the gap between desktop and mobile operating systems with the publication calling it “the first step toward a computing landscape in which one interface can serve all purposes”.

The number two spot goes to Intel Sandy Bridge chips and their ability to reduce “data’s travel time from component to component by replacing lengths of wire with nearly a billion close-knit microscopic transistors”. We know Apple just recently refreshed their MacBook Air and Mac Mini lineup with new Sandy Bridge processors, and future Macs will likely get the same treatment. The new Thunderbolt I/O has also been an emerging technology Apple has adopted for future Macs, and that brings us to number three…

Last but not least, we have Intel Thunderbolt at the number three spot, which we all know Apple teamed up with Intel to help develop and is now being implemented on future iterations of iMacs and MacBooks. Minor limitations aside, its contribution to the tech industry is pretty obvious, as Popular Science puts it, “Thunderbolt’s wires are the first to combine the languages that handle data and display in one channel, making it faster and more versatile than any other connection”.

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New MacBook Air for $899 bundled with discounted $199 AppleCare

From 9to5toys.com:

Getting the holiday shopping season started a little early this year, MacConnection is offering 9to5Mac readers the base model MacBook Air for the lowest price we’ve ever seen it: $899 (10% off) when bundled with a significantly discounted AppleCare which is just $199 (20% off).  The total $1099 price is $150 below the $1250 you’d pay at the Apple Store and over $60 less than we could find it anywhere else.

This latest MacBook Air includes an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz Sandy Bridge dual-core processor, 11.6″ 1366×768 LED-backlit display, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD, AirPort Extreme (802.11n wireless), Bluetooth 4.0, Facetime camera, Thunderbolt port, and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.  AppleCare provides Apple’s three year warranty.

Use code 9-5AIRCARE at checkout to get the deal.   Limit 2 per customer, and this will run out soon.

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MacBook Pro refresh coming before Christmas?

AI reports that the MacBook Pro line will receive minor processor updates before the holiday shopping season.  In fact, they say the updates should come before the end of the month.

According to people with proven insight into Apple’s future product plans, the late-2011 MacBook Pro refresh will deliver marginal speed bumps to the notebooks’ Core i-Series of Sandy Bridge processors but will otherwise introduce no material changes over the existing models.

While precise timing for the update may change, those same people say the Mac maker currently anticipates an introduction of the refreshed line before the end of the month,

The report seems to stem from the recent release of Intel Core i7 2700 series processors fit for use in MacBook Pros (right).

This seems to fly counter to earlier reports from MacRumors that the next update to the MacBook Pro line would be a big redesign.

MacRumors has heard reliable confirmation that the next revision of Apple’s MacBook Pro line will utilize a new case design for the first time in several years.

For what it is worth, we’re seeing no hiccups in the supply chain on current models.  Silent updates aren’t unheard of however.

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Intel’s new chips could give future MacBooks 24 hours of battery life (just like current ARM chips)

Today at the Intel’s Developer Forum, Intel unveiled a new processor that will be able to power a x86 computer for 24 hours/10 days of stand-by time off a single charge. Intel’s new Haswell chip uses a 22-nanometer 3D-transistor architecture that uses 20 times less power than current Sandy Bridge models which are featured in the newest line of Macs. The new chip was demonstrated using solar-power to grab light from a source as small as a light bulb to power the system.  Oh, and the Haswell chips will be faster than current processors.

The new chips will land in 2013, after Intel’s Ivy Bridge in 2012. Recently, Intel revealed that Apple wasn’t entirely pleased with upcoming Intel Chips power usage and were currently investigating other alternatives.  Clearly, Apple’s own ARM AX line which already can provide 24 hour battery life (with PC-sized batteries) is being considered. (via Gizmodo)

It is interesting to note how much the image reminds us of the image below: Read more