MacBook Air rumours solidify

Posted on by Mike Evans

So we can forget about a seven-inch iPad. Steve says so. It's a pity, but at least we're saved the inconvenience of buying yet another device. I have enough trouble wandering between my iPhone, iPad and Kindle, so I'm kind of relieved Steve has spoken.

But today's Back to Mac event is causing a few more rumours. We're promised a peek at the next major revision to OS X, said to be called Lion. This is likely to be launched in mid 2011 and will definitely be something to look forward to.

We are also likely to see and hear more on Mac, including a revision to the MacBook Air line. The Air has not been touched for eighteen months and is well overdue for attention. This time, though, the rumours are exciting: a smaller-screen computer is promised. An 11-in wide Air, perhaps with an 11.6in high-resolution screen, is promised and I believe this would put new life into the range. The current Air, for all its lightness and thinness, has exactly the same footprint as the 13.3in MacBook. A smaller Air, which would fit more easily into a bag, would up the stakes and appeal strongly to thousands of people who want a smaller laptop but don't want to leave the Apple fold. A smaller Air could even cannibalise the iPad market to some extent.

Jason Snell of MacWorld has been a MacBook Air fan ever since the original announcement and he's also looking forward to the prospect of a smaller version. Rightly, he says the size is limited by the need for a proper, no-compromise keyboard. The keyboard is what lets down the majority of netbooks. But with a bit of trimming of the frame around the existing Air keyboard he reckons an 11-in wide laptop is possible. Here is his prediction for tonight's announcement:

"So, to sum up this exercise in making things up out of whole cloth: 11 inches wide, 8 inches deep, 16:9 display with 1366x768 resolution, 1.86GHz dual-core Intel processor, all for $1,199. But that’s just my wild guess."

I hope he's right. I might even swap out my iPad for one of those.

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