With a flood of inexpensive Windows-based Ultrabooks set to hit the market, Apple's MacBook Air 11-inch is looking more and more expensive. Perhaps that's why, according to a rumor published in Taiwanese website DigiTimes , Apple could be planning to release a $799 version of its popular ultraportable.
An ultra-thin and lightweight series of notebooks, the MacBook Air line currently starts at $999 for the 11-inch model and $1,299 for the 13-incher. To answer the success of both the Airs and of tablets, Intel launched its Ultrabook initiative in 2011. Thus far, we've seen several Ultrabooks from Dell, HP, Samsung and other PC makers, but the most affordable option is the Acer Aspire S3, a $799 laptop that earned just 2.5 stars in our review, due to its lacklaster hard drive and weak battery life. The second-most affordable Ultrabook, the Toshiba Portege Z835, starts at $829, or $270 less than the entry price of the MacBook Air.
However, the Toshiba and Acer notebooks are really just first-generation products. By the time Windows 8 ships later this year, we expect a whole raft of sub-$800 Ultrabooks to hit store shelves.
What could Apple offer for under $800 and what would it need to trim from the current $999 Air to save that extra $200? The company could offer a cheaper MacBook Air with a mechanical hard drive, but it's unlikely Apple will slice out any of the current $999 MacBook Air's basic amenities.
Previous updates to Apple product lines show that the manufacturer prefers to update its catalogue with new products and simultaneously "refresh" existing units with new, lower prices. The likely outcome: new MacBook Airs with better, faster specs, and old Airs for all-new, bargain prices.
Of course, it should go without saying that this information is strictly unconfirmed speculation. So it's very possible that Apple has nothing up its sleeve for its MacBook Air line, though we suspect that-- thanks to Intel's new third-generation Core processors appearing in more and more laptops--there'll at least be a processor update to Apple's MacBook Air line-up. We'll have to wait to see what comes true.