Various media reports are promoting 9to5Mac Marc Gurman's theory that Apple is readying a widely redesigned MacBook Air lineup. I can find no official Apple announcement regarding planned MacBook Air changes, and that's potentially a good thing. The rumored new MacBook Airs don't look too business friendly.
If rumors are true, prepare for change
Gurman, a 9to5mac senior editor, believes the new lineup may forego port choices and display largess in favor of a thin profile and presumably portability. He suggests Apple is also going to eliminate the MagSafe connector.
This is all bad.
Maybe I'm becoming more resistant to change as I age. This past December, I purchased and have been using a 13.3" MacBook Air. It's highly portable and incredibly light. Battery life is awesome, and I'm happy with my plug options (two USB 3.0, one Thunderbolt, one MagSafe, and one SDXC card slot). The 13.3" screen boasts 1440x900 pixel resolution, supporting millions of colors. Keys are elegantly backlit, full-size, and comfortably placed.
Even though the battery only powers the system up to 12 hours, at less than three pounds, the thing feels almost as if it will float away when it's placed at an angle on a laptop desk on bumped on a horizontal surface. I don't want my computer to be any smaller or lighter, nor do many business users who prize text readability and easy data entry using a proper keyboard.
But, change might be in the air.
Gurman believes Apple's eliminating the full-size USB ports in favor of a single USB Type C port. The MagSafe power cord? Gone. An SD card slot? Nope. Thunderbolt, the fast connectivity technology in which I and numerous other business users have been busy investing significant dollars for external hard disks, displays, and other peripherals? It may be chucked, too.
Thin and light, supposedly, is going to be the goal. If so, that makes me really happy I just bought an i7-powered 13.3" model with a 256 GB drive. I could be using it for quite some time.
Gurman also states that Apple may squeeze the keys to enable more aggressive beveling and trimming of the case. Not only will that look like crap, but it will make typing more difficult. If I wanted a smaller Air, I would have bought the 11" option.
Lots of business users need additional ports to connect external drives, displays, and other peripherals. What are they supposed to do with just a single USB Type C port? Carry a handful of adapters? That would certainly defeat the purpose of a thin and light laptop. With such a configuration, a Mac Air user would almost be as bad as a Microsoft Surface devotee having to schlep a stylus, keyboard, and kickstand everywhere.... almost.
Many Mac users already possess multiple power cords, leaving one at the office and holding another at home, so there's no need to lug a PSU everywhere you go. But Apple may prove tempted to opt for the new USB electrical technology to power the computer. Who knows? Just wait until someone trips over that cable while connected to the new sub-three pound Airs; the machine will end up on the floor in pieces.
Another rumor is that the clickable Trackpad will lose "clickability," or the tactile feedback sensation that occurs when pressing down on the pad to initiate a click, due to the designer's need to save space and thin the chassis. Personally, I love the very tactile sensations of typing on keys and manipulating the Trackpad. If these features are being removed from the Air line, I — and other business users — may gravitate back to MacBook Pro options.
What do you think of the MacBook Air rumors? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.