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More MacBook Air: "significantly lower" price, still Core 2

updated 04:25 pm EDT, Fri October 15, 2010

11.6-inch MacBook Air may be cheap but use Core 2

Apple's 11.6-inch MacBook Air has already received a follow-up rumor that suggests the update may have only a modest update to the processor but compensate in nearly every other area. It would still use a Core 2 Duo, possibly like the S series in the existing Air, but would upgrade to the GeForce 320M (MCP89) for a boost to graphics. The lone source talking to CNET, however, mentioned that the price would be "significantly lower" than the $1,499 asking amount of the outgoing 13-inch system.

The tipster, allegedly aware of Apple's schedule for the October 20 gathering, also alluded to longer battery life but wouldn't say by how much. Current 13-inch MacBooks get up to 10 hours of battery life through batteries that is very likely larger, but the Air has usually run on a lower-power chip and wouldn't need as much to run for longer than its current five hours.

Other tips have pointed to an all-SSD storage range that would improve the overall responsiveness, even for the basic MacBook Air.

A decision to use an older processor would disappoint those that had wanted a Core i3, i5 or i7 in the design but might also be necessary given a legal fight between Intel and NVIDIA over chipset licenses. Intel has sued NVIDIA claiming that the latter's license for system chipsets doesn't include any processor with a built-in memory controller, which virtually rules out all Core iX processors and newer Atom designs. NVIDIA has countersued claiming that Intel has deliberately misinterpreted the contract to shut out a faster competitor.

The system may nonetheless be an important part of Apple's strategy, both to define the Mac's role in relation to the iPad as well as to boost already surging market share. Macs currently dominate the premium notebook market but have faced a widening gap between the cheapest, $999 model and dropping average prices for most others. Netbooks are now on the decline, but 11- to 13-inch ultraportables using Intel's CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) chips have helped bridge the gap by keeping a small profile while only costing a small amount more than a netbook or some basic full-size notebooks.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969



    MBA2 @ $999 (sorry, I buy by the pound, most people do.)
    MB @ $799* (the mortgage is long ago paid on this form factor)
    MBP Unchanged. Symmetry achieved.

    They scored a TD with iPad, now they need to go for the conversion. MB @ $799 would be the coup-de-grace for the iPad effect on Windows laptop sales and simultaneously make Intel stop screaming about losing processor share to Apple's "new low end".

    But what do I know, my mock turtleneck is in the wash.

    * Plus the base $499 base $999 gap is too wide.

  1. juraiprince

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I agree....

    it's time, Apple, for a truly affordable laptop. $999 is way too much for a basic Macbook. They must start at around the $799 mark.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mixed signals = two different MacBook updates?

    I doubt any MacBook Air will hit $799 for years. The MBA is more or less positioned at the medium-to-upper price range in the overall MacBook lineup.

    But I wouldn't be surprised if Apple announced a new basic MacBook to replace the plastic one, as well as a new MacBook Air. The new low-end MacBook could have the 11.6" screen and finally graduate to an aluminum enclosure. $799 for the base model of that one would be my guess.

    The new MBA could use the same 13" screen but be super-light (carbon fiber components with bonded aluminum skin) and super-thin (smaller form-factor solid state memory instead of HDD or SSD.

    And just a crazy thought: touchscreen in place of a mechanical keyboard with separate trackpad. Might be too expensive at the moment, but it would be the only way to reduce thickness of the keyboard, aside from using super-short-stroke keys as an interim step.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Maybe no carbon fiber until iOS?

    Carbon fiber is a heat insulator, so until Apple can completely solve the heat problem with Intel CPUs, MacBooks probably won't be made with carbon fiber. So what's the best way to get rid of all that Intel heat? Use an A4. And that means either a Mac OS compiled for A4 or iOS.

    Carbon fiber might be worth all that effort, since it just might allow for super-light and super-strong construction. And economy of scale would lower Apple's costs across all devices that use the A4 system-on-chip. But I doubt carbon fiber is recyclable. Not sure about that.

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