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Sources: Apple to unveil revamped 11.6-inch MacBook Air next week

post #1 of 177
Thread Starter 
Apple next Wednesday will unveil its latest bid to cater to consumers in the market for a true sub-notebook with the introduction of a smaller, 11.6-inch MacBook Air redesigned from the ground up, AppleInsider has been able to confirm from several independent sources.

The first models, which are certain to take the form of an 11.6-inch notebook, have been rolling off Apple's Taiwanese manufacturing lines for at least a week now, placing their availability on or shortly after their introduction next Wednesday at the company's "Back to the Mac" special event, according to a person with a proven track record of pinpoint accuracy.

Though further details from that source were not reported, a second person believed to be familiar with the product says the most significant change outside of the smaller form factor -- the current MacBook Air is based around a 13.3-inch display -- will come in the form of enhanced disk storage components.

According to this person, the new models will do away with existing options for a*conventional hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) in favor something described as an "SSD Card" that lacks a traditional drive enclosure and more closely resembles a stick of RAM, yet is not easily user-replaceable.

If accurate, AppleInsider believes the component may be a proprietary SSD drive alternative designed by Apple to be integrated in Macs in a similar manner to the way flash memory is embedded in iPods, iPhones and iPads. This approach would be less expensive than a standard package intended to fit the shape of conventional HD devices, allowing the company to drive down costs and pass the savings on to the consumer.

Standardizing the new Air around flash storage could also see the notebook sport incredibly fast boot times and "instant-on" capabilities when waking up from sleep, similar to iPhones and iPads. Although the existing Air is offered with a SSD drive, the base model includes a HDD, impeding Apple's ability to offer such technology across its inaugural design of the notebook.

Externally, all indications point to the new Air sporting an enclosure that largely resembles that of the existing 13.3-inch model, but scaled down to fit the new 11.6-inch screen. However, a third person who claims to have caught a glimpse of one of the prototypes says the edges appear more defined than curved and that the side profile of the unit is slightly more wedge-shaped.



Introduced as the "world's thinnest notebook" back in January of 2008 -- a project AppleInsider was first to report on a full year in advance (1, 2, 3) -- the 13.3-inch MacBook Air drew "Oohs and Ahhs" out of the gate. Almost immediately, however, it struggled to gain traction in the market and sell in high volumes to its target audience of business travelers and students, who found its 13.3-inch footprint and $1800 price point somewhat prohibitive.

With the advent of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air, it would appear that Apple plans to address both those concerns while blurring the lines between its Mac and iOS devices -- essentially delivering its most responsive notebook ever in a form factor similar to the brisk selling iPad, yet with a full keyboard and more attractive entry-level price point.

Earlier this month, AppleInsider reported that supplies of the two existing 13.3-inch MacBook Airs had dried up throughout the company's indirect sales channels, suggesting that a complete overhaul to the line was imminent.

It was the first time that AppleInsider has witnessed this abnormal trend in regards to the Air since it began tracking availability of Apple's Mac line on a daily basis over two years ago.
post #2 of 177
I hope it costs something less than a fortune.
post #3 of 177
SSD card? Could it be like the SDXC reader on the iMac, but used at the main drive?
post #4 of 177
I want a 11.6 inch iPad!
post #5 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

according to person with a proven track record of pinpoint accuracy.

a second person believed to be familiar with the product says the most significant change outside of the smaller form factor --

Wow with sources like this ... it must be a done deal!
post #6 of 177
I love my first-gen MBA and was holding off purchasing a replacement MBA (I want SSD, NVidia) until their announcement. If it is indeed true that they are reducing the size of their display, I may have to pass and go to a MBP. The current size is the absolute minimum I would go. I use my MBA as my 9-to-5 work machine and the weight savings is indispensable when commuting by motorbike.

I hope they offer the MBA in a higher screen size. 11" is just too small for me.

Will be interesting to see the new one in person though. I'd like to see how the integrated storage solution works out in real-world usage.
post #7 of 177
11.6 Form Factor?

I thought Apple said they weren't going to do netbooks.
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post #8 of 177
I love my 15" MBP but this sounds really tempting. I'm leaving on a long vacation next month and I'll be bringing along my iPad and also my MBP which is more weight than I carried last year due to the addition of the iPad, but with the new Air I can get all the functionality I need from a notebook as well as much less weight.

How does Apple do it? They continually bring out new products with the minimum amount of overlap so that I am compelled to buy all of them.

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post #9 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

11.6 Form Factor?
I thought Apple said they weren't going to do netbooks.

NOT a netbook - rather a full-blown notebook with a small form factor.
post #10 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

11.6 Form Factor?

I thought Apple said they weren't going to do netbooks.

Actually... what Steve Jobs said was:
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that"
post #11 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by GelfTheElf View Post

Actually... what Steve Jobs said was:
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that"

Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

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post #12 of 177
My prediction:

0. Steve will start with the usual what has happened over the past bunch of months.. He'll mention the iPad coming to AT&T and Verizon Stores.

1. Steve will announce OSX 10.7 (or 11) which will support multi-touch on screen.

2. Hello iMac touch

3. MacOSX (or ichat) to support FaceTime

4. The "one more thing" will be the new mac book air 11.6" it'll cost $999 (or maybe $1299) he'll probably say, "The world's thinnest laptop just got thinner"
post #13 of 177
How about an iPad that can dual boot? When it is in its docking shell with a keyboard and track pad it can boot into OS X, when it is taken out it boots into iOS. When docked they could make the OS X partition sync with iOS. Or maybe the switching between the two OSs could be more seamless like parallels does the windows/OS X thing. Hey, one can dream right?
post #14 of 177
I'd like a 10.5 inch iPad, that would be the perfect size
post #15 of 177
Sign the petition for the MacBook Air mini:

http://macbookair10.net
post #16 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

The iPad is not a computer. Even though many other devices do computing functions they are not exactly considered computers in the general sense. Take a calculator for example, it can compute, but it is not considered a computer, same goes for my iPhone. Technically these devices are computers but in the general sense they are not.
post #17 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

SSD card? Could it be like the SDXC reader on the iMac, but used at the main drive?

No, there are pci-e SSD drives available on the pc side of things (don't know if they have mac support) and some people have been using them for awhile. Allowed higher storage than early SSDs. As the article said, it wouldn't be very replaceable, but Apple would be able to make more space in the case for battery and such.
post #18 of 177
If it gets any thinner then we'll be able to shave with it.

There comes a point when something just is too small to be really functional. At 11.6" that's cutting it close. If this is a real product, then I'll have to pay a visit to the Apple store to find out.
post #19 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by GelfTheElf View Post

Actually... what Steve Jobs said was:
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that"

Exactly. This'll be MUCH more than $500.

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post #20 of 177
IMO i would like to see this in a iOS form factor. When in laptop mode have a cursor or something translate from the touch pad (not perfect solution I know. but good for the basics and data entry in iOS). Then have the screen swival for normal ipad mode. Id pay a premium. Dual boot to mac os would be gravy.
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post #21 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

11.6 Form Factor?

I thought Apple said they weren't going to do netbooks.

Are netbooks defined by the size of the display? I would have thought they were defined by the type of CPU because they came into being because of Intels creation of the Atom processor, which this new MBA surely wont have.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

Since when did words only have one pedantic definition? I think you know exactly what he was referring to by the use of the word computer.
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post #22 of 177
What sucks is that i have no money. Hell, i'm using the library computers right now.
post #23 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunx View Post

Sign the petition for the MacBook Air mini:

http://macbookair10.net

What a waste of time. Apple listen to their customers for bug reports but not product advice.
post #24 of 177
(kinda off topic): Will there be another live stream of this event?
post #25 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

Or he was right, they didn't know. But now they do. Human beings can learn you know.
post #26 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

There comes a point when something just is too small to be really functional. At 11.6" that's cutting it close. If this is a real product, then I'll have to pay a visit to the Apple store to find out.

How about a sheet of paper? Too thin to be useful? How about a clipboard? In ten years the MBA will be the thickness of a clipboard. It'll stand by itself and the camera will watch your fingers type on the tabletop and input the text. Then, maybe, it'll be thin enough. Maybe.
post #27 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

SJ may have been right at that time. The landscape has changed considerably with the introduction of the iPad. Apple has learned a lot about how to reduce costs as pointed out in the article. Besides - the Airs may cost more than 500. I suspect the price will be a step up from the iPad but less than the MBP. I suspect that the Air will become the new MB.

What I look forward to seeing is how, and to what extent IOS will inform OSX in this and future revisions. With so many IOS (but non-OSX) users a lot can ride on this. A simplified OS to which an IOS user needs no introduction would be a great selling point.
post #28 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

Or that statement was true at the time and they've since figured out how to it.
I say that's the case.
post #29 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone
Either Jobs was wrong or the iPad is not a computer. Or the iPad is a piece of junk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


Since when did words only have one pedantic definition? I think you know exactly what he was referring to by the use of the word “computer”.

I think he was joking

Besides that quote was pre-iPad and people can change their minds. I think the iPad is a computer. Prior to the ipad i used my MacBook to surf the web, listen to itunes, read my mail, write notes, write letters and dabble withe odd spreadsheet. Now it's redundant. MacBook is a computer and therefor so is my iPad. My logic.

The iPad is in it's infancy.
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post #30 of 177
The thing that I am wondering about is the keyboard. The "magic" of the original Air was that it retained a full-sized keyboard relative to the other Macs. If the screen shrinks that much, the bezel would go with it, which seems to me would require that the keyboard be downsized as well. It will be interesting to see what comes about next Wednesday.
post #31 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by hlfnlsn View Post

The iPad is not a computer. Even though many other devices do computing functions they are not exactly considered computers in the general sense. Take a calculator for example, it can compute, but it is not considered a computer, same goes for my iPhone. Technically these devices are computers but in the general sense they are not.

A calculator is not a 'computer' because it can't do anything beyond its existing purpose.

The only feature I've seen ascribed to a computer that the iPad doesn't currently have is an ability to program for it on the iPad itself. But I don't know of any accepted definition of a computer that requires this. If that were the case, then the original Mac wasn't a computer because you had to program for it on a Lisa.

I still haven't seen anyone make the case authoritatively that the iPad isn't a computer.

I'm still waiting.
post #32 of 177
I bet we'll see a peek of 10.7 that looks a whole lot more like iOS. Maybe the ability to run apps...? By November, iOS will get far more capable in the content creation department.

The ultimate "one more thing" would be an MacBook Air that is essentially an iPad with a faster processor, upgradable storage, a USB port and a full keyboard. All while preserving the touch panel. This would completely blur the line between iPad and Notebook. Hopefully the Operating systems will eventually follow suit.
post #33 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

...It'll stand by itself and the camera will watch your fingers type on the tabletop and input the text...

Or we'll have gotten beyond using a 19th century input technique that's intentionally designed to be inefficient.
post #34 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0yvind View Post

NOT a netbook - rather a full-blown notebook with a small form factor.

Correct.

People seem to forget that just a few years ago, the 12" PowerBook was a very popular model in the notebook product line.
post #35 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

A calculator is not a 'computer' because it can't do anything beyond its existing purpose.

The only feature I've seen ascribed to a computer that the iPad doesn't currently have is an ability to program for it on the iPad itself. But I don't know of any accepted definition of a computer that requires this. If that were the case, then the original Mac wasn't a computer because you had to program for it on a Lisa.



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post #36 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetlaw View Post

The thing that I am wondering about is the keyboard. The "magic" of the original Air was that it retained a full-sized keyboard relative to the other Macs. If the screen shrinks that much, the bezel would go with it, which seems to me would require that the keyboard be downsized as well. It will be interesting to see what comes about next Wednesday.

Itll fit if they use the 16:9 form factor. In fact, the width of the 12.1 4:3 display is slightly less wide than the 11.6 16:10 displays.

Also, if they use the 1280x800 resolution found in the current 13.3 MB/MBA/MBPs they will a PPI that is inline with the High-Resolution display options of the 15 and 17 MBPs and that of the 9.7 iPad.
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post #37 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post

11.6 Form Factor?

I thought Apple said they weren't going to do netbooks.

Netbook = super-slow, tiny screen (smaller than 11.6 typically) and therefore really cheap. Which is pretty cool in a way, and theoretically, “good enough” for “net” usage (surfing, email) if not much else. In reality, quickly obsolete and aggravatingly slow. (Not to mention, they don’t come with OS X.)

The Air won’t be that awful Nor that cheap... and if it was, I wouldn’t want it.

I badly want my current Air just a bit faster and with the SSD option I skipped the first time. That alone would have me craving a new machine. And it sounds like this new Air will actually be entirely new! Small is good.

I’d use it as a file server with all my most-current files on it. (Older, seldom-used files can be on an external.) I’d use my iMac’s big screen and extra speed to work on those files. But when I need to hit the road, no sync will be needed: just grab the Air which already has everything. (And of course a Time Capsule backup is part of the picture too.)

I’m already starting to use that system with my old Air. Don’t know why it took me 3 years to think of!


Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Correct.

People seem to forget that just a few years ago, the 12" PowerBook was a very popular model in the notebook product line.

True. I wanted one of those badly and never got one! The 12” PB lovers may finally have their dream come true next week.
post #38 of 177
My first mac with the Titanium Powerbook at 15", followed by the 12.1" Aluminum Powerbook, followed by my current White 2006 Macbook (whose battery just reached 1300 charge cycles and still runs for 2.5 hours). By far my favorite mac was the 12.1" Powerbook. The size was amazing. Because it will be widescreen and have a higher resolution like all other macs today, that should mean that we get a lot more screen real estate than before..
post #39 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

SSD card? Could it be like the SDXC reader on the iMac, but used at the main drive?

Most likely it will be a PCI Express card or a controller interfaced via PCI Express. It could be a controller of their own design or one of the new PCI Express supporting chips to recently hit the market. There is the issue of this "drive" being a card at all as they could simply integrate it directly on the motherboard.

In a way being directly integrated on the motherboard would suck for upgrades but it would be reliable. If they go the route of direct integration hopefully they will provide a slot for expansion. The one certainty here is that there won't be enough storage space.

In any event the performance possible by going this route should be shocking. 500 to 800 MB / sec read should be no problem at all. Depending upon how aggressive they are performance could exceed that significantly. If they use an A4 type processor as the controller they might be able to do some interesting things with RAiD like tech to enhance flash reliability and fault tolerance.

All in all I'm vary curious about this new machine as it soubds like a major innovation effort upon Apples part. Hopefully they will manage the price better than the old AIR.
post #40 of 177
Proprietary storage is not cool, Apple.
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