updated 10:20 am EDT, Sat October 16, 2010
MacBook Air prototype would stay 13in, add ports
Images of what's claimed to be an early prototype of the next-generation MacBook Air have surfaced in a new leak. The design, purportedly dating back to April of this year, implied that there may still be a 13-inch version but also that Apple would have addressed some of the common complaints of the Air's 2008-era build. Engadget pointed out that it would eschew the drop-down expansion row and have two USB ports, one on either side, as well as an SD card reader and the requisite Mini DisplayPort output.
As hinted earlier, no room was shown for a fully-enclosed 1.8-inch hard drive. Apple would instead use a 'raw' SSD that could be just a circuit board with flash memory chips and a controller. Most of the space in the design would instead be devoted to the batteries, which were represented here by four separate packs. It's possible a finished design would change the layout.
The notebook was listed as new and identifed itself in System Profiler as "MacBook Air 3,1," but the parts shown are a direct holdover from the existing model and use a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo S (the SL9400) with 2GB of RAM. Its age may have been borne out by design touches, since the bottom and glass trackpad would be new but the top would still have the all-aluminum frame of the original.
As the system showed is at least half a year old, it's considered entirely probable that Apple will have upgraded the processor, RAM and other components now that they should be either available or at lower prices. Whether or not a 13-inch model ships might also be called into question; Apple has been known to alter or cancel plans late into development, and multiple sources have all made no mention of a 13-inch Air sequel while remaining confident that a 11.6-inch version exists. A possibility exists that Apple may carry both sizes.