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A 15-Inch MacBook Air in 2012?

Digitimes reports a MacBook Air refresh could come sooner than expected, and with a larger screen.
December 1, 2011

Though a technology blogger by trade, I’m very circumspect when it comes to my own gadget purchases. I type this on an old, wheezing MacBook nearing its fourth birthday, and when I bring it into Apple Stores, the Geniuses marvel at it, as at an archaeological relic. Loyal Hello World readers will know, nonetheless, that I’m seriously eyeing a MacBook Air for my next purchase. This is fast becoming, after all, the era of the über-thin laptop–both Apple’s sleek models and its ascendant competitors, the Intel-branded “ultrabooks.”

A major hesitation of mine, though, has been the limited screen size of the MacBook Air: 13 inches in its larger models. That worry may finally be dispelled though, according to reports in Digitimes claiming that a MacBook Air refresh is imminent–this time with a 15-inch model.

Two weeks ago, the site had reported that parts for a 15-inch MacBook had begun to ship, but it was unclear whether the parts were for MacBook Airs or a pared-down version of the MacBook pro, which has long come in 13.3-inch, 15.6-inch, and 17-inch models. This week, Digitimes updated its findings: a new 15-inch MacBook Air would indeed be in the works, according to its “sources from the upstream supply chain,” along with new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch models. What’s more, the Airs would be coming sooner than expected: in the first quarter of 2012, rather than the second.

This is excellent news for Mac addicts everywhere who prize both portability and screen real estate. Though the MacBook Air has been branded as a device for “light computing,” that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be an option for a larger screen. I’m a “light computer,” I suppose–I mostly browse and process words. But it’s not just graphical artists and filmmakers who need room for their eyes to roam, and for their canvases or documents to breathe. Even humble bloggers will often have a dozen windows and a handful of programs open at once; the glut of text in the Internet era, too, demands breathing room.

What does the news mean for the pricing of Apple’s current generation of MacBook Airs? Digitimes says its sources think that Apple will drop the price of the existing MacBook Air series, a prediction that would seem reasonable, especially in the wake of Apple-y Black Friday promotions everywhere. But I wouldn’t be quite so sure; as SlashGear points out, “the company has traditionally been reluctant to discount outgoing models until the new versions hit shelves.” Still, if you were thinking of making a MacBook Air purchase soon, it might be prudent to wait it out another month or two, either to get a better deal on the current generation–or to do your eyes a favor by splurging on that new 15-incher.

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