updated 08:05 am EDT, Wed June 29, 2011
MacBook Air 2011 to be identical on outside
More leaks Wednesday have narrowed down the release schedule for new MacBook Air systems. The ultraportables are now expected to ship in mid-July and possibly on July 14. An extra 9to5 tip emphasized that the systems would be virtually identical in external design outside of the switch from Mini DisplayPort to Thunderbolt.
The systems are already known to be shipping with Lion and hint that Apple will be making the new OS available on or near the same day. Intel's newly shipping low-voltage Core i5 and i7 chips are widely presumed to be coming along, although Apple may only use these for the 11-inch Air and reserve existing, faster 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz processors for the 13-inch system.
The new Air is expected to be a major leap in performance. Although the Intel integrated graphics will just be on par with the GeForce 320M they replace, the underlying processors will bring Apple's systems from behind equivalents in performance to equivalent or sometimes ahead. An update is also an opportunity to close gaps in RAM or storage.
One rumor has the 11-inch Air dropping to $899 to lure in more buyers. Apple's typical pattern is more often to upgrade features for the same price, and it may consider this a top priority given just 64GB of storage in its starter model.