Thunderbolted, Sandy Bridged MacBook Airs in June?

Analyst reports from Asia indicate Apple may start production on new MacBook Airs with Thunderbolt ports, Sandy Bridge processors, and Intel Graphics in May, with June ship dates.

Newer! Faster! Sandier! Apple

Right now you can have an ultra-portable MacBook or one with up-to-date guts, but you can't have both . But that's apparently changing, if rumors are to be believed.

The latest from parts suppliers in Asia indicates that Apple is set to begin mass production of Thunderbolt- and Sandy Bridge- (with Intel Graphics, natch ) equipped MacBook Airs late next month, to debut on sales floors in June (which corroborates reports we made back in February ).

The news comes from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, from Concord Securities, who gave his take on the Air production to AppleInsider. In addition to being fairly consistently in-line with the rumors department, a summer refresh of the Air makes sense: Its low price point and lightweight design make it ideal for students, and June is around the start of back-to-school shopping. The Air is small, but we could see Apple sacrificing a USB port to make room for Thunderbolt, because with an adapter it can do the job of both.

Kou didn't offer any information on pricing, but it would make sense if Apple kept the pricing and product matrix similar to the one the Air enjoys now, starting at $1,000 for the base 11-inch model and sliding up to $1,600 for a fully loaded 13-inch version.

Other stats, such as storage capacity and graphics, were also not volunteered, but we're guessing slight bumps in both as SSD drive prices have been dropping. If Apple can find a way to squeeze a 128GB SSD drive into its entry-level 11-inch Air with an i5 processor and Thunderbolt then it could give other ultra-portable makers, like Samsung and Toshiba , real competition.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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