It took Apple just one year to paint a Retina display on the iPad mini. As of now, only the razor-thin MacBook Air hasn’t joined the cool kids at the can't-see-pixels-at-normal-usage-distance party.
Maybe, just maybe, it'll get an invitation this year.
Daniel Matte, an analyst with market research firm Canalys, penned his thoughts on the possibility of a Retina display on this year’s MacBook Air, pointing towards a 12in (well, 11.88in) model with a resolution of 2732 x 1536 pixels. This resolution is equal to a quadrupling of the current Air's 1366x768 display, and shares the exact pixel density of 264 pixels per inch as the current iPad Air, making it a suitable alternative for iFans who want a larger display than a tablet. That quadrupling factor is important: it's how Apple has scaled screens for iPhones and iPads in the past, which makes it simple for app developers to optimise for.
More importantly, modeling after the iPad Air or iPad mini means that the same technology could be used on the refreshed MacBook Air. The economies of scale and supply chain accustomed to the high demand for the Retina iPads can transfer easily to the production of the 2014 MacBook Air. But like the refreshed iPad mini with Retina display, the additional cost of a high-resolution display could deal your wallet - and the laptop's battery life - a pretty hard slap.
Not so for photographers - they’ll most likely take the bait and shell out that extra cash to get more pixels in order to view their masterpieces on an ultra light and slim workstation.
Us too. Who wouldn’t love more pixels when the top 10 movies of 2014 are available on iTunes?
Initially, web rumours suggested that the 12in displays mentioned here were set to be integrated into larger-form iPads. I didn't think much of those rumours at the time - I can't see any specific use for a large-screen tablet like that that isn't better served by a good laptop - and so I'm far more taken with Daniel Motte's analysis here.
His suggestion that a 12in MacBook Air will replace the current 11in and 13.3in models sounds sensible, particularly given how slim the Retina MacBooks have become in the past 12 months, and would leave the complete iOS and MacBook ecosystem looking like this:
- iPhone 4S: 3.5in
- iPhone 5C/5S: 4in
- iPhone 6: 4.7 - 5.7in (rumour - read our iPhone 6 preview here)
- iPad Mini / w/Retina display: 7.9in
- iPad with Retina display / iPad 2: 9.7in
- MacBook Air: 11.9in (rumour)
- MacBook Pro 13.3in: 13.3in
- MacBook Pro 15in: 15in
That looks quite elegant to me. Let us know what you think in the comments below.