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MacBook Air Rumored to Get Retina Display in Q1 2015 Release; Price, Specs, and Features

( [email protected] ) Dec 24, 2014 12:42 PM EST

MacBook Air
The MacBook Air Retina is rumored to release in Q1 2015. Photo: iMore

As Apple's MacBook Air sits quietly by, watching every other Apple product get a Retina Display version, some consumers are curious as to why it hasn't happened for the ultra portable laptop just yet.

Originally, many believed that the 12-inch MacBook Air, with its focus on portability, was skipping the Retina Display function altogether after the proposed Intel Core M chip wasn't performing up to Apple's standards in other laptops. The fanless Core M allows for a cooler high performance processor in a smaller package.

But since then, new rumors have surfaced that say that the MacBook Air's manufacturing plant is aiming for a release of the Retina Display version in the first quarter of 2015. Apple has reportedly skipped over the Intel Core M chip and gone straight for Intel's Broadwell processors that are a step up from the previous MacBook Air's Haswell chips.

What's interesting to note, though, is the poor reception that the Broadwell chips have had so far this year. As the in-development Skylake chip is a much more highly anticipated chip, with its support for wireless charging and updated data transfer technologies, many believe that the generation of MacBook Airs after the upcoming one will feature the Skylake, and are even willing to wait the extra time to skip a generation.

Retina Display is a brand name of Apple screens that feature the highest pixel density ever shown on Apple products, boasting up to 401 pixels per inch as seen on the iPhone 6 Plus. 

While the pixel density may or may not correctly replicate exactly that of the human retina, the fact is that many factors go into determining the resolution on any given device. While introducing the iPhone 4, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the amount of pixels needed for a retina display is about 300 ppi for a device held 10 to 12 inches from the human eye. So that formula changes with the device's distance from the eye and screen resolution.

But the combination of higher resolution on a large screen and extreme portability has caused a tricky situation for Apple. It's believed that part of the solution that Apple has concluded is that the rumored new display will replace both the previous 11- and 13-inch screens of the previous MacBook Air to be just one offering of 11.8. But the speculated resolution of 2732 x 1536 would be four times that of the current versions.

A clickless trackpad is also on the list of rumored new features, allowing multiple touch sensors to replicate the mechanic trackpads of the past with a more efficient and lower-maintenance design. The removal of those old clunky mechanic parts, like the processor fan, the trackpad's buttons, and the already efficient solid state hard drive means that there will be less heat generated, which in turn means a potentially longer battery life for the MacBook Air.

But all of these rumors mean nothing without a comfortable price. Apple users aren't afraid to spend a bit more to get a better product, but the MacBook Air Retina is expected to fetch around $1,200 to $1,500 depending on the included extras. 

We will be sure to keep our eyes peeled for more news on Apple's MacBook Air Retina edition as it becomes available.