Apple's new MacBook Airs to bring back backlit keyboards - sources

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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, AppleInsider has learned.



According to people familiar with the matter, 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.



As AppleInsider reported a month ago, 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.



As for Lion's release to the public, AppleInsider indicated last week that preparatory measures were put in motion for an unveiling this week. However, there have been some underground rumors of last minute security issues related to application resumes and restarts that could possible delay the update till next week. At the same time, buzz from within Apple's home base has also suggested this Friday as a possibility. But given that Apple just began accepting applications for Lion to the Mac App Store a few hours ago, that may suddenly seem ambitious.



MacBook Air's long-lost backlit keyboard, as pictured on a 1st-gen model | Credit: zanoii's flickr



Either way, Friday releases of major OS X upgrades have been somewhat of a tradition for Apple for nearly a decade. With the exception of Cheetah and Puma, which were released on a Tuesday and Saturday, respectively, back in 2001, all major new versions of OS X have made their debut on a Friday: Panther (Friday, Oct. 24, 2003), Tiger (Friday, Apr. 29, 2005), Leopard (Friday, Oct. 26, 2007), and Snow Leopard (Friday, Aug. 28, 2009).



Since their introduction last October, the aggressively-priced 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs (Review) have been a runaway success, with Apple assembling roughly 1 million units within their first quarter of availability. During those three months, consumers reportedly chose the new MacBook Airs at a one-to-two ratio to the company's more established MacBook Pro offerings, making for one of the company's most successful Mac product launches ever.



And while rivals like Intel continue in their attempts to race to market with 'Ultrabook' designs to take on the Air, analysts like Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore see the upcoming generation of Lion-equipped Airs boosting sales by some 50%, or to 1.5 million units per quarter.



Should this month's introductions boost Air sales by the margin Whitmore predicts, the MacBook Air line will have in just under a year grown to account for nearly half of all the notebooks Apple ships in a single quarter, further fortifying their design as a harbinger of things to come across the remainder of the company's portable Mac offerings.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    jakevin.jakevin. Posts: 71member
    Yes! This is great news and I cannot wait to purchase the new Macbook Airs, I'm really hoping that they are launched alongside Lion THIS Friday! Another week? Say it aint so!



    I simply cannot wait to find out about the specs for these new MBA's confirmed and ready to go
  • Reply 2 of 83
    Hmm...I wonder if this means it won't come out til Friday the 22nd or 29th!



    Either way, very excited for Lion. I really think people don't give it a fair shake...
  • Reply 3 of 83
    ituomasituomas Posts: 35member
    About time. I was very surprised to see Apple did not include keyboard backlight in the current model even as a BTO option. I've grown so accustomed to the feature in my Early 2008 MacBook Pro I wouldn't want to get a notebook without it anymore.
  • Reply 4 of 83
    jakevin.jakevin. Posts: 71member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post


    Hmm...I wonder if this means it won't come out til Friday the 22nd or 29th!



    Either way, very excited for Lion. I really think people don't give it a fair shake...



    Oh no, 15th! 15th! 15th!



    Lion is truly shakable my friend, can't wait as is evident with my repeated posts of enthusiasm! Haha.
  • Reply 5 of 83
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Great. Bring also the matte display option. And a lighter and smaller model as well.
  • Reply 6 of 83
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Bring ... a lighter and smaller model as well.



    You're kidding, right? Lighter and smaller than the 11" MacBook Air??? How much smaller do you want?



    In my opinion, Apple could do well adding a 15" MacBook Air to the lineup.
  • Reply 7 of 83
    messiahmessiah Posts: 1,689member
    Price hike?
  • Reply 8 of 83
    Well, since nobody mentioned it, how about a retina display in the MacBook Air?
  • Reply 9 of 83
    jakevin.jakevin. Posts: 71member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mcarling View Post


    You're kidding, right? Lighter and smaller than the 11" MacBook Air??? How much smaller do you want?



    In my opinion, Apple could do well adding a 15" MacBook Air to the lineup.



    Agreed, 11" is almost too small as it is...



    Apple will NEVER invest in Netbook sized notebooks... that's why they went with iPad and even it's close enough to 10"...



    "Netbooks aren't better at anything" - Steve Jobs, when assuring consumers that new products have to be better at doing what they do than other products already available.
  • Reply 10 of 83
    I am planning on getting a new 11" MBA and am just waiting to upgrade to Lion on my MBP and iMac. While I use the MBP and iMac, the MBA will go to my wife.. a perfect birthday gift!



    I have been waiting rather restlessly for Lion (I check the Mac App Store every night before going to bed!), so it's good that a third of July is already gone. I'm hoping the rest of the waiting period goes by as fast!
  • Reply 11 of 83
    jakevin.jakevin. Posts: 71member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Messiah View Post


    Price hike?



    No way. Apple clearly worked to make the entry price $999. It's not about to change.
  • Reply 12 of 83
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,498member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Great. Bring also the matte display option. And a lighter and smaller model as well.



    Oh come on. It's called an iPad. Look it up.
  • Reply 13 of 83
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    This is great news. It's hard to see many people choosing the 13" MBP over the 13" MBA now.
  • Reply 14 of 83
    daylove22daylove22 Posts: 215member
    Sweet!! I am looking forward to order one...being waiting for some time now.
  • Reply 15 of 83
    Backlit, thunderbolt, ssd, some sandybridge love and dare we hope.. a matte screen.



    Man, that would be beastly.



    I'd just about sell my 17" mbpro and swap to one of these hooked to a desktop monitor and an external raid. Hmmmm
  • Reply 16 of 83
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post


    I'd just about sell my 17" mbpro and swap to one of these hooked to a desktop monitor and an external raid.



    Coming from a 17" MacBook Pro, wouldn't you really rather have a 15" MacBook Air? Or do you plan to keep it permanently connected to a desktop monitor?
  • Reply 17 of 83
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post


    I'd just about sell my 17" mbpro and swap to one of these hooked to a desktop monitor and an external raid. Hmmmm



    I saw this kind of comment very often at Apple forum. Coming from PC I never thought about connecting notebook to a monitor so I couldn't help wondering.. what is the benefit? Did you suddenly see everything at the native resolution of the monitor? or do you still see it at the resolution of your MBA?
  • Reply 18 of 83
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post


    I saw this kind of comment very often at Apple forum. Coming from PC I never thought about connecting notebook to a monitor so I couldn't help wondering.. what is the benefit? Did you suddenly see everything at the native resolution of the monitor? or do you still see it at the resolution of your MBA?



    You can do either. There are two modes for using two or more monitors:



    1. Mirroring

    2. Extended Desktop



    Mirroring, as the name suggests, show exactly the same image on the two monitors at the same time - so whichever screen has the lowest resolution is the limiting factor. This mode tends to be useful for presentations and the like.



    With the extended desktop mode, each monitor operates at its native resolution and shows different content - you designate a certain monitor to be your "main" monitor (with a laptop the main monitor can be the built-in monitor or the external one) and that shows the Menu Bar and Dock, and you can drag windows from one display to another.
  • Reply 19 of 83
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    You can do either. There are two modes for using two or more monitors:



    1. Mirroring

    2. Extended Desktop



    Mirroring, as the name suggests, show exactly the same image on the two monitors at the same time - so whichever screen has the lowest resolution is the limiting factor. This mode tends to be useful for presentations and the like.



    With the extended desktop mode, each monitor operates at its native resolution and shows different content - you designate a certain monitor to be your "main" monitor and that shows the Menu Bar and Dock, and you can drag windows from one display to another.



    I see. Thank you.
  • Reply 20 of 83
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    This is good reporting.
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