Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook Air given vague 15-month launch window by DigiTimes

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited August 2014
The latest rumor on Apple's anticipated redesign of the MacBook Air casts a particularly wide net, suggesting that a thinner model could launch either this fall, or it could miss the holiday shopping season and debut at some point in 2015.




The alleged details, attributed to Taiwan-based supply chain makers, were reported on Wednesday by DigiTimes, which is known for an unreliable track record in predicting Apple's future product plans. The sources that spoke with the publication expressed uncertainty about the launch window for the new MacBook Air, saying Apple plans to launch the thinner model "possibly at the end of 2014 or in 2015," not even narrowing down a potential timeframe for next year.

With what is essentially a 15-month launch window, the rumor leaves considerable room for error. Wednesday's report also claimed that production of components for the new notebook has begun in "small volumes."

No other details on the device were included, and the report did not make note of the anticipated addition of a 12-inch Retina display. To date, rumors have consistently pegged the new MacBook Air as having an even thinner design and a high-resolution Retina display in the 12-inch range.

Apple's next-generation ultra-portable notebook has also been rumored to sport a fan-less quiet design --?something that could be possible with Intel's next-generation Broadwell chips. The first Broadwell chips, intended for ultra-low-power notebooks, are scheduled to arrive in limited quantities beginning this fall, before a wider launch of the platform in 2015.

Finally, Wednesday's report also claims that Apple's legacy 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with CD/DVD SuperDrive is "expected to be retired by the end of 2014," or just four months from now. The notebook currently remains a part of Apple's notebook lineup, and was given a $100 price cut in July when the Retina display models were updated with newer chips.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,260member
    Unusual for DigiTimes to be vague, their wild guesses are usually pretty specific. ;)
  • Reply 2 of 40
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    This is one overhyped machine. At the end of the day it will still be a vastly underpowered Mac for doing any real work on OS X.
  • Reply 3 of 40
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Apple's designers seem to be confusing laptops with bread knives. I could care less about a thinner MacBook Air. In a case, it'll be protected by the same necessarily thick layers of foam as my current MacBook, and thus just as bulky. On a desk, a small difference in thickness matters not. I'm not writing while locked like Houdini in a suitcase barely larger than I am. The universe is huge. I have lots of room.

    I remember well how this absurd obsession with thinness began. It started with a Motorola phone called the RAZR, which was quite the rage for a time. I even had one and, while it was pretty, I loathed it. The UI was so-so and the developers were so clueless, it did not even include a simple note-taking feature. An obsession about one detail, thinness, can mean failure elsewhere. The RAZR fad faded into nothing.

    The time and effort to creating absurd levels of thinness distracts from what the next MacBook Air really needs. In addition to the obvious (a Retina screen), that includes:

    1. A really compact and light-weight power supply built like the Finsix "Dart." It's ridiculous to have a featherweight laptop that uses a chunky white brick for power. And while Apple is creating that new power supply, why not build a USB power connector into it, so users can charge their iPhones and iPads without pulling out their laptop?

    2. A MagSafe-like replacement for what is by far the worst connector in computerdom, that giant, ugly, clumsy ethernet connector left over from thirty years ago. WiFi is not suitable for every location or for fields where privacy matters like banking, law, and medicine. Doing that would win the praise of the world.

    3. Touch ID for the power button. Power-on and log-in with one quick motion would be a great timesaver.

    4. GPS location sharing. Make it possible for one GPS-equipped Apple device, say an iPhone, to share its location with other devices via Bluetooth, say an iPad or MBA. That'd make location services far more useful.

    Those four improvements would do more to make MBAs sell like hotcakes than a few millimeters of reduction in its thickness.
  • Reply 4 of 40
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    pmz wrote: »
    This is one overhyped machine. At the end of the day it will still be a vastly underpowered Mac for doing any real work on OS X.
    Overhyped machine by who? We don't even know that this (or the rumored 12.9" iPad) exist. Of course rumor sites starved for Apple news will report on this because they need something to fill their pages and generate ad revenue.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,376member
    You hit the bullseye there. Any computer with a power profile to be fanless won't be a Mac with the expected performance profile. Essentially yo end up with a single tasking machine. This is why I often wonder if these rumors are really about an IOS based device.

    My experience with iPad tells me that iOS and the associated hardware can deliver a nice "laptop" experience if the expectations are low. Low in this case meaning single tasking interface for the most part. It wouldn't be suitable for current Mac uses though. Atleast not someone that runs several substantial apps at the same time.

    In the end I don't see Broadwell delivering the performance per watt to even replace today's Air models in a fan less machine.
    pmz wrote: »
    This is one overhyped machine. At the end of the day it will still be a vastly underpowered Mac for doing any real work on OS X.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    The 13" MBA is the best laptop Apple's ever made IMO. Pretty much perfect as is.
  • Reply 7 of 40
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,376member
    DigiTimes doesn't guess at anything. Read the publication a bit and you will find that this is just information that comes their way that they publish. Usually reserved for column space that might be seen as a rumor or gossip column. It is American publications like Appleinsider that try to elevate some of these articles to the status of researched news.
    Unusual for DigiTimes to be vague, their wild guesses are usually pretty specific. ;)
  • Reply 8 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post



    This is one overhyped machine. At the end of the day it will still be a vastly underpowered Mac for doing any real work on OS X.

    Define "real work". Are you assuming everyone is running 3D render farms at home?

  • Reply 9 of 40
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,376member
    paxman wrote: »
    The 13" MBA is the best laptop Apple's ever made IMO. Pretty much perfect as is.

    It depends upon your expectations. For years I wouldn't even consider an Air due to the rather pathetic performance. Airs have gotten much better no doubt there. I'd be very tempted by a Broadwell powered machine, that is if Broadwell actually delivers on the hype. Beyond that I'm still wanting a quad core which I doubt will make it into Air with the next rev.

    The thing is this, I keep my machines for a very long time compared to some. Buying too low on the performance curve leads to frustrating performance in the up grade cycle. An Air today may run Yosemite OK and even a couple of apps but what another three years from now? It can make one a sad puppy when a software upgrade effectively grinds your machine to a halt. By the way these software related usability issues are often RAM related, more RAM is a life extender too. It is too bad Airs don't have an even bigger build to order option for RAM
  • Reply 10 of 40
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,376member
    Real work is running several apps at the same time. I can easily chock a machine by running XCode, Safari and ITunes at the same time. Part of that is RAM related which Air class machines do not address well but part of the issue is also raw processor performance. Sometimes you just need more cores or clock speed. This isn't render farm work but rather normal operation for some users.

    The problem with this rumored fanless design is that the rumored Abroadwrll chips suitable for such a machine might be of the "tablet" class. That is to keep the power low they cut clock rate significantly and trim other featured that burn power. Let's face it you can only down clock Sao far before performance becomes an issue. All of this is a reasonable concern because we don't know exactly what Intel will deliver. A fan less Air could very well be underpowered compare to even today's Airs.
    Define "real work". Are you assuming everyone is running 3D render farms at home?
  • Reply 11 of 40
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

    It depends upon your expectations. For years I wouldn't even consider an Air due to the rather pathetic performance. Airs have gotten much better no doubt there. I'd be very tempted by a Broadwell powered machine, that is if Broadwell actually delivers on the hype. Beyond that I'm still wanting a quad core which I doubt will make it into Air with the next rev.



    The thing is this, I keep my machines for a very long time compared to some. Buying too low on the performance curve leads to frustrating performance in the up grade cycle. An Air today may run Yosemite OK and even a couple of apps but what another three years from now? It can make one a sad puppy when a software upgrade effectively grinds your machine to a halt. By the way these software related usability issues are often RAM related, more RAM is a life extender too. It is too bad Airs don't have an even bigger build to order option for RAM

    Sure, there are a number of circumstances that would render the mba less than ideal, but on balance it is a machine hard to beat. For day to day computing the mba is plenty fast and maxed out it is plenty powerful. If you are a pro user (in a broad sense) of graphics and video software for instance, it would not be ideal as your primary machine, obviously. 

  • Reply 12 of 40
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

    Real work is running several apps at the same time. I can easily chock a machine by running XCode, Safari and ITunes at the same time. Part of that is RAM related which Air class machines do not address well but part of the issue is also raw processor performance. Sometimes you just need more cores or clock speed. This isn't render farm work but rather normal operation for some users.

    I am not even sure why you are looking at laptops as there are so many limitations by their very nature. If you always require lots of power and you are always on the move there is only one machine for you in the Apple family and that is a maxed out MBP, period.

  • Reply 13 of 40
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,440moderator
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Any computer with a power profile to be fanless won't be a Mac with the expected performance profile. Essentially you end up with a single tasking machine.

    In the end I don't see Broadwell delivering the performance per watt to even replace today's Air models in a fan less machine.

    Haswell already delivers a usable fanless design:

    http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench3/compare/392973?baseline=190269

    This is slower than the current Air but only slightly. The Air isn't meant to be a powerhouse machine and the 13" MBP isn't a powerhouse either at only 30% or so faster than the Air.

    They could easily replace the Air and 13" MBP with a fanless Broadwell design that maintains the current Air performance and adds a Retina display.
    inkling wrote:
    1. A really compact and light-weight power supply built like the Finsix "Dart." It's ridiculous to have a featherweight laptop that uses a chunky white brick for power. And while Apple is creating that new power supply, why not build a USB power connector into it, so users can charge their iPhones and iPads without pulling out their laptop?

    The USB port is a good idea and smaller PSUs would be nice but they have to work internationally so the plugs would add some bulk. I wouldn't say Apple's power adaptors are all that big, the ones with similar power ratings are only twice the size of the 65W finsix, the MBP 85W adaptor is larger but a higher power rating:

    1000 1000

    Still, it's clearly an improvement so if they can design a smaller one, they should. There may be reliability issues that crop with the method they used, which is fine when dealing with a few thousand units:

    http://finsix.com/power-platform/

    They make a magsafe version so people can always buy one directly from them. It looks like the company secured $2.2m in funding:

    http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2014/08/19/finsix-garners-2260000-new-round/
    inkling wrote:
    2. A MagSafe-like replacement for what is by far the worst connector in computerdom, that giant, ugly, clumsy ethernet connector left over from thirty years ago. WiFi is not suitable for every location or for fields where privacy matters like banking, law, and medicine. Doing that would win the praise of the world.

    Ethernet isn't used enough to be worth making a dedicated port for, you get USB and Thunderbolt adaptors for it. If the USB designers want to add networking capability over the protocol, there's nothing stopping them. There's IP over Thunderbolt. It wouldn't necessarily change the networking hardware though, which is what holds it back.
    inkling wrote:
    3. Touch ID for the power button. Power-on and log-in with one quick motion would be a great timesaver.

    Having a fingerprint login for FileVault would be nice, it could even save typing in the password in the command-line and encrypted external drives can be mounted with it too.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,304member

    The A7 is a powerful chip, so we are told.  The A8 will be more powerful.  The 12" iPad, could come with an A9.  Who knows was iOS10 will be capable of in another year.  Dismissing it now is short-sighted.  Apple doesn't release products for niche markets.  They create markets that didn't exist.

     

    I still think Apple is working towards an ARM-Based notebook of some kind, whether it runs OSX or iOS is yet to be seen.

  • Reply 15 of 40
    "Just you wait,
    [s]Sandy Bridge[/s]
    [s]Ivy Bridge[/s]
    [s]Haswell[/s]
    Broadwell
    will change everything!"
  • Reply 16 of 40
    Apple should make a MacBook Air that can be charged via USB cable. Then no more MagSafe ports would be needed. And you could simply plug your MacBook Air into a MacBook Pro to charge it. Also, /s
  • Reply 17 of 40

    What a useless prediction. "This product that Apple will obviously make at some point is coming sometime in the next year and a half. LOOK GUYS WE HAVE CONNECTIONS SEE HOW ACCURATE OUR PREDICTIONS ARE!"

  • Reply 18 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

     

    The A7 is a powerful chip, so we are told.  The A8 will be more powerful.  The 12" iPad, could come with an A9.  Who knows was iOS10 will be capable of in another year.  Dismissing it now is short-sighted.  Apple doesn't release products for niche markets.  They create markets that didn't exist.

     

    I still think Apple is working towards an ARM-Based notebook of some kind, whether it runs OSX or iOS is yet to be seen.


    ARM based notebook running iOS would be awesome!  But... 12'' iPad rumor would be meaningless. But.. still... 12'' iPad with iOS and add-on keyboard might be this ARM based notebook.  Cant wait for Apple doing awesome things.  But wait.. Chromebooks.......

  • Reply 19 of 40
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,309member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pmz View Post



    This is one overhyped machine. At the end of the day it will still be a vastly underpowered Mac for doing any real work on OS X.

     

    What's your definition of "real work"? And does whatever not fall into those very specific use cases considered "fake" work?

     

    A multicore A8 chip with a good amount of RAM could probably handle almost everything your average would throw at it, with ease. No, it won't be the best machine for heavy duty rendering/etc, but that doesn't mean it does not deserve to exist. I do think there's a place for something between an iPad and a Macbook, that leverages the simplicity and useability of iOS and the appstore, along with a larger screen. 

  • Reply 20 of 40

    Being this verbose and yet so clueless about market sectors.    Continue to be a filthy casual. 

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