The New MacBook Air — ‘Sometimes, That’s Enough’ →

November 6, 2018 · 12:15

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

That fan is a weird place to start when talking about the new $1,199 MacBook Air. I’d rather jump into all the many good things there are to talk about: the pixel density on the new display, smaller bezels, Touch ID, the T2 security chip, a larger trackpad, and a smaller design. I’ll get into all that. But I want to hang with this fan noise for another minute because its whirring encapsulates the most important thing to know about this MacBook Air.

Namely: it’s a computer that will let you do whatever you want, even though some of those things are probably beyond its capabilities. It won’t say “no” when you want to open 20 tabs and eight apps and then edit a photo. (Though, sometimes, with a fan and spinning beachball, it will say “uncle.”) Most of all, it’s a computer that is familiar. It does everything you expect in a way that you’re used to.

Sometimes, that’s enough.

I’m still waiting for a 15 W TDP quad-core MacBook, be it a MacBook Air or refreshed MacBook Pro Escape. There’s currently a hole in the line-up and it feels that it’s there so as not to cannibalize MacBook Pro sales — the Air has a 7 W CPU, the Pros have 28 W parts, and the 2017 Escape has dual-core 15 W processors. Where are the quad-core 15 W TDP Intel Core i5s and Core i7s?

And no, no Touch Bar for me, thanks.


New 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs for MacBooks, the Rumoured MacBook Air and Perhaps Even an Updated MacBook Pro Escape →

August 29, 2018 · 09:34

Intel today announced additions to the 8th Gen Intel Core processor family: The U-series (formerly code-named Whiskey Lake) and Y-series (formerly code-named Amber Lake) are optimized for connectivity in thin, light laptops and 2 in 1s for the first time, while also providing ultimate mobile performance and long battery life.

Intel showed these parts, which are newer versions of what the 12-inch MacBook uses — this should suggest an update soon:

  • m3-8100Y | 1.1 GHz | 3.4 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
  • i5-8200Y | 1.3 GHz | 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores
  • i7-8500Y | 1.5 GHz | 4.2 GHz Turbo Boost | 2 cores

There are also two possible candidates for the rumoured upcoming MacBook Air if it continues to use 15-watt CPUs:

  • i7-8565U | 1.8 GHz | 4.6 GHz Turbo Boost | 4 cores
  • i5-8265U | 1.6 GHz | 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost | 4 cores

The MacBook Pros with Touch Bar use 28-watt CPUs and they were updated in July 2018. The MacBook Pro Escape (the model without the Touch Bar) wasn’t — it uses 15-watt CPUs. The i5 and i7 listed above could easily make it into the Escape if Apple chooses to upgrade them.

If the MacBook Pro Escape gets an update, then I think the rumoured Retina MacBook Air will not get Thunderbolt ports at all, to differentiate it further (and keep the price down). If the Escape is left to die off (Apple really should stop this practice and just remove a model from sale as soon as possible), then there’s a chance that the new Air will get Thunderbolt, but my gut feeling says Apple is going to want to keep the price down and not include it either way. The 12-inch MacBook has not filled the gap left by the 13-inch MacBook Air and they’ll have a hard time keeping the 899-999 USD price-point with all these new fancy technologies. While the ”Air” moniker is well known, logically Apple should just release it as a 13-inch MacBook, but that would be troublesome if it were to be cheaper than the 12-inch model.

All the speculation on this subject just go to show how far Apple has strayed from the simplicity of their line-up.


Dropping MacBook Airs Would Create a Hole in Apple’s Lineup →

September 4, 2016 · 08:40

John Gruber:

We might be getting that speed bump update (along with USB-C ports), but I would be very surprised if we get a major update with retina displays. I still think the future is just MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

I held the same view as John for quite a while. The MacBook Airs seem to be going the way of the 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro. But this does create a hole in Apple’s lineup. The MacBooks have the slowest CPUs, which don’t need fans, while the MacBook Pros are getting the faster mobile units. The series of Intel chips used in the Airs would be missing if they were dropped.

What Apple could do:

  • leave the 12″ MacBook as is — fanless and ultraportable,
  • create new Retina MacBook Airs in 13″ and 15″ sizes, with dual-core fan-needing CPUs of the ULV variety,
  • switch both the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros over to quad-core CPUs — the 13-inch models have been using the more powerful dual-core Intels exclusively.

While I don’t for a moment imagine this will happen, it would create an extremely versatile lineup of MacBooks, which should fill everyone’s needs, while bringing the ‘Pro’ back to the 13″ MacBook Pro, and making the Airs an extremely versatile machine for people who don’t necessarily need the horsepower, but want nice, big screens.


Apple Is Working on iPad Upgrades and Refreshed Mac Lineup →

August 30, 2016 · 08:34

Mark Gurman:

Apple Inc. is developing new features for the iPad to cater to professional users, along with new Mac laptops and desktops, according to people familiar with the matter.

Upcoming software upgrades for the iPad include wider operating-system support for Apple’s stylus accessory, while hardware performance improvements are also in development, according to the people. The refreshed Mac hardware line includes new versions of the iMac desktop, MacBook Air laptop, and a 5K standalone monitor in collaboration with LG Electronics Inc., in addition to a thinner MacBook Pro laptop.

The one thing that surprised me is that mention of a new MacBook Air. I thought they were basically dead, especially now that there’s a MacBook in the lineup, with a much better screen.


MacBook Air in Two New Sizes Rumoured for Q3 2016 →

November 30, 2015 · 11:07

Eric Slivka:

The new MacBook Air is said to take on a slimmer design and arrive in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, but it is unclear whether an 11-inch model will also be included. The slimmer design will be enabled by “fully redesigned” internal components across the board, and Apple is reportedly currently working with its suppliers to develop these new components.

I full expected the Retina 12″ MacBook to drop in price in the future, replacing the Airs completely, and the MacBook Pros to be redesigned with thinner and lighter cases. If Apple chooses to refresh the Air lineup with a 15″ model in addition to the 13″ one, I would assume they’d both get Retina screens. The differentiation would have to happen predominantly at CPU level. The current 15″ rMBPs are all i7 quads, which leaves room for dual-core i5 and i7 CPUs. I’m assuming that the rumoured 13″ Air would get the ULV1 CPUs, which are placed between the Core M from the 12″ MacBook and i5/i7 dual-core in the current rMBP 13″, in terms of processing power.

While this wouldn’t simplify their MacBook line-up, it would separate the consumer models from the MacBook Pros. Also, perhaps an updated 13″ rMBP would get quad-core i5 and i7 CPUs, further distancing itself from the Air.

  1. Ultra-low Voltage.

Why I’m Waiting for the 12” Retina MacBook Air

January 24, 2015 · 08:24

Apple introduced Retina screens in the MacBook Pro a few years ago and I never took the plunge. I had no need for a 13” laptop at the time and bought a 11” MacBook Air1 a year later. What convinced me was its small size and long battery life, and I needed a mobile typewriter and access to Lightroom when traveling, to be able to offload my memory cards and perform a preliminary selection of the shots I took—this would later turn out to save me hours of work.

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  1. Mid 2013 model.