updated 07:35 am EDT, Tue July 12, 2011
MacBook Air should return backlit keyboard
The upcoming launch of new MacBook Airs should restore one of the more glaring omissions from the current generation, sources explained Tuesday. Backlit keyboards, which were present in the original versions of the Air but were pulled with the redesign, should make their return in the upcoming versions. Despite hopes for a launch this week, AppleInsider heard from its contacts that the release would be sometime next week.
That release may hinge on Mac OS X Lion itself. Apple could be ready to post Lion to the Mac App Store this Friday, but there may be security exploits Apple wants to patch relating to app resumes and restarts. The company also only just began taking Lion app submissions on the Mac App Store and may want an extra week to build up a catalog.
Apple is believed to be holding all new Macs for Lion and may consider the MacBook Air the most important of the group. The 11-inch and 13-inch systems should both make leaps to Intel's modern Core i5 and i7 family, including new 1.7GHz and 1.8GHz ULV chips on at least one model. Mini DisplayPort should give way to Thunderbolt, and the solid-state memory may upgrade to 400MB per second Toggle DDR 2 that performs well beyond even the mid-cycle upgrades seen with the current models.
Apple is rumored to have a high level of confidence in the new Air. The existing ultralights have managed to escape the niche of the first and move a few hundred thousand a quarter, but analysts at Deutsche Bank estimate Apple could ship 1.5 million a quarter and make it a backbone of its notebook sales. The lower pricing and improved expansion of today's systems have been given credit for the spike but have been held back by using older processors and concerns about a lack of RAM. [image via Ken Funakoshi]