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It seems like almost every day a new rumor regarding Apple surfaces. The latest rumor says that Apple will debut a refreshed MacBook Air at this year's WWDC taking place next month. A refreshed MacBook Air is expected to make use of Intel's new, low-power Haswell CPU's and possibly feature a Retina display.
One of the main reasons this rumor has popped up is that availability of the current 13-inch Air with a 1.8GHz processor and 256GB SSD is out of stock at many large retailers across the web. Amazon, B&H, MacConnection, and MacMall are all out of stock, while J&R is only offering the system in-store.
Supply constraints are often an early indicator that Apple is planning on releasing a refreshed model. In anticipation for the new model, production of the old model ramps down to clear existing inventory. WWDC takes place shortly after Intel debuts its new Haswell processors and would be an excellent time for the unveiling of a refreshed Air.
This is the year of the convertible notebooks. Originally seen at CES 2013 earlier this year, the Yoga 11S is an 11-inch convertible Ultrabook. The system can be used in four different positions, hence the name Yoga. You've probably seen the ad for its big brother at least once; I've seen it probably hundreds of times.
Lenovo is offering quite a bit of freedom in terms of customization, with Core i3, i5, and i7 processors to choose from, either a 128GB or 256GB SSD, and 1366x768 or 1600x900 resolution screens. At its most basic configuration, the Yoga 11S will set you back around $800.
The device will start shipping in "more than four weeks" time making me believe it will likely utilize Intel's upcoming Haswell CPU's. You will, however, be able to check one out in person at Best Buy come June 23. It's available for pre-order at Best Buy and Lenovo.
This morning Sony unveiled a new line of VAIO Fit laptops that have a unique aluminum case design. The VAIO Fit will come in two variants; a 14-inch model will cover the low-end, while a 15-inch version will serve up the high-end.
The new Fit notebooks feature Sony's Extreme R imaging sensors that allow the built-in webcam to capture exceptional images even in very low light situations. The devices also support near field communication, which allows the laptops to wirelessly sync with other NFC compatible devices, such as smartphones.
The 15-inch Fit features a full HD 1920x1080 display, while the 14-inch model boasts a 1600x900 resolution. Both models have full sized backlit keyboards and both include Sony's ArtRage Studio, which is a touch oriented painting program. The Fit 14 and Fit 15 are available in black, silver and pink, and will retail for $649 and $699, respectively.
Johannes Knapp is back with his second video today from the Acer press conference in New York, this time we some hands-on time with the new Aspire P3.
The P3 is another unique device, as was the Aspire R7. The P3 is unique in that Acer call it an "Ultrabook", but it's really a tablet that comes with an interesting keyboard dock frame / holder. You just clip the P3 out of the dock, and then it comes a tablet.
Speaking of the specifications, it's a Windows 8 based system with an 11.6-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1366 x 768. It runs either an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor and includes microHDMI and USB 3.0 support.
This morning Acer officially unveiled four new product lines for the US market. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a "revolutionary" new notebook that Acer teased in a Star Trek Into Darkness trailer mashup. This morning we got a full look at the device, and boy did it deliver.
The new Acer Aspire R7 is a very USS Enterprise-esque 15.6-inch notebook that features a full 1920x1080 touchscreen display. The unique repositionable design of the R7 revolutionizes the notebook computing experience by seamlessly merging the touch and typing experience into something that just feels natural. Customers who pre-order the Aspire R7 will receive a copy of the new Star Trek The Video Game for free.
"With the Aspire R7, Acer has redesigned the laptop with an approach that's based on how people interact with their notebooks and other devices," said Sumit Agnihotry, vice president, product marketing, Acer America. "Its progressive design redefines the computing experience, so whether consumers are touching or typing, the R7 adapts to allow consumers to create, browse and share content in ways they never have before."
Johannes Knapp is over in New York for us at the moment covering an Acer press event, which introduced several new mobile products today.
He has first delivered us with a hands-on video of the Aspire R7 laptop. What's interesting about this laptop, and the first thing you'll no doubt notice, is that the keyboard and touchpad have been switched of their usual locations. That of course means the touch pad is on top and the keyboard is below. Acer has done this since the unit features a special hinge that allows you to position the screen at different angles and also flip it over to show your lunch date what's on your screen. You can set the screen down to act like a tablet, it's rather nifty indeed.
There are several different configurations of the R7 including one with an Intel Core i7-3537U CPU or Intel Core i5-3337U CPU. Storage options are aplenty including 500GB, 750GB or 1TB HDD or if you like speed, a 120GB or 256GB SSD. There is support for up to 12GB of DDR3 RAM and you can opt to add in an NVIDIA GeForce GT750M 2GB GPU over the standard embedded Intel HD 4000 graphics.
Google are looking to dig their heels into yet another market, according to a new report from DigiTimes, both Acer and ASUS are optimistic about the long-term prospects of Google's Chromebooks, and are now working on low-priced systems that will arrive in the second half of the year.
Acer will be aiming at students with a new 11.6-inch model to be released in July, as well as Chrome OS-powered systems to be expected from ASUS, HP, Samsung and Lenovo later in the year. We actually reported on vendors wanting to push Android-based products onto the market, so this might be it. Hold onto your seats folks, we're going to be experiencing a bumpy next couple of years for Windows.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities, has a new report forecasting that the product highlight of Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will introduce refreshed MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.
These refreshed products would see Intel's new Haswell chips inside, the chipmaker's fourth-generation Core processors. Kuo thinks that Apple will continue with non-Retina MacBook Pros, seeing strength in the 13-inch model, leading him to believe we'll see Apple continuing the production of non-Retina models. He says:
Contrary to our previous projection, we now think Apple will continue to make the MacBook Pro alongside the MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro because the 13" MacBook Pro remains the most popular product in the MacBook line. Also, there is still demand in emerging markets, where Internet penetration isn't advanced, for optical disk drives.
The analyst believes that the updated non-Retina MacBook Pros could ship right after WWDC, but the new Retina-based MacBook Pro models would ship later down the line due to the more expensive, and harder to make Retina displays.
Last week I covered a story about Intel's CEO Paul Otellini predicting that Microsoft Surface tablets would soon see a price drop to $200. Now we are hearing a different story coming out of Intel, and the word is that it will be Android based notebooks that will sell at the $200 price point.
In an interview with CNET, Intel executive VP Dadi Perlmutter said that the $200 touchscreen devices will predominantly be Android based notebooks running on Intel's Atom mobile processors. While this news is still quite exciting, I still believe a $200 Microsoft Surface tablet would see massive sales. On the other hand, I will still be all in for a $200 Android based notebook.
When asked about Microsoft selling $200 tablets, Perlmutter had the following to say:
"We have a good technology that enables a very cost-effective price point. The price of Windows 8 laptops depends on how Microsoft prices Windows 8. It may be a slightly higher price point."
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for KGI Securities, Apple will start production on a Haswell-powered MacBook sometime in May in preparation for a late summer launch. A late summer launch flies in the face of what Tim Cook said during an investor call: "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014."
Kuo expects the MacBook line to feature a vastly updated design and only Retina displays. Intel is currently thought to be planning to release Haswell at Computex in the first part of June, so this timeline matches up with Intel's schedule, lending some credibility to this claim.
We don't doubt that Apple will make use of Intel's Haswell CPUs, it's just a matter of when exactly they make the switch and to what degree they update the MacBook line.