If you're salivating at the rumours of the impending MacBook Air lineup, prepare for more excitement. Several online sources are pointing to next week as being the likely release date, focussing on the 21/22nd July for both the hardware refresh and the launch of Mac OS X Lion. Meanwhile further details are emerging of a likely configuration for the Apple ultra-portable.
As well as backlit keyboards and high-speed Thunderbolt ports, the new MacBook Air seems likely to include between 128GB and 256GB of flash storage, 4GB of RAM as standard and run on ultra-low voltage Intel Sandy Bridge mobile processors.
Apple is thought to have been waiting for the release of Mac OS X Lion before issuing any new Mac hardware updates. Version 10.7 of the operating system was widely tipped to ship this week, though trouble with one of the system's new features seems to have caused a minor delay.
AppleInsider quotes an analyst, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who through his industry checks predicts that all new 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will have their RAM beefed up to 4GB, as it will improve performance of Mac OS X Lion. The site claims Kuo has a respectable track record of producing accurate predictions for Apple's future hardware designs.
The analyst is also quoted as suggesting that instead of 64 GB solid-state-drives, Apple will be shipping only 128GB and 256GB models as standard. This assumption is based on the fact that the bulk of Apple's shipments have been for models containing those larger drives. The analyst claims his checks indicate the SSD drives will remain pluggable, and won't be soldered to the logic board.
AppleInsider reported Kuo predicting three specific ultra-low-voltage Intel Sandy Bridge mobile chips would be used in the Airs: the Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz), i7-2637M (1.7GHz), and i7-2677M (1.8GHz). According to the report, each of the chips consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, and support systems with up to 8GB of total memory.
*Update* Amazon has dropped its prices on the existing MacBook Air line. Although the reduction is small, the move fuels rumours of an imminent launch.