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Circuit board orders point to new MacBooks?

A surge in orders of printed circuit boards by Apple seems to fit nicely with other suggestions that the company is getting ready to introduce new notebooks for back-to-school time.

It could be time for Apple to bring the aluminum MacBook Pro casing to the MacBook. Apple

With the iPhone 3G launch out of the way, it's time to turn to what appears to be the next big thing on Apple's road map for the year: new notebooks.

The Commercial Times reported (in Chinese, but translated by Digitimes) that Apple has increased its orders of printed-circuit boards for notebooks by 20 percent, compared to last quarter.

Macs are selling pretty well lately, but that's a stronger boost than would be expected from the usual seasonal patterns, and it's unlikely that Apple would be planning for that kind of boost unless it planned to trot out new hardware this quarter.

There are a few signs that Apple is about ready for new notebooks. Intel has shipped a new notebook processor and chipset, albeit a little late. AppleInsider reported earlier this month that a redesign was imminent, after confirming that a supposed image of new MacBook posted on a message board was genuine.

Also, Apple values the back-to-school shopping season more than just about any other PC company. Last year, it unveiled new iMacs in early August, just before the rush back to college. Given that the MacBook design is aging, the time seems about right for Apple to bring the aluminum casing on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to the MacBook line.