Despite a myriad of rumors surrounding the Apple’s special media event on October 16, the tech company did not update the displays on their entry-level line of laptops, the MacBook Air. Instead, the event focused on the newly launched OS X Yosemite, new generation iPads, an update to iOS 8, a new Mac Mini, and new Retina-display iMacs. Many Apple fans and tech experts found themselves scratching their heads and wondering why this computer seems to be the last major Apple product without a Retina screen.
Speculation about a Retina-screen MacBook Air filled the news immediately before the event. Just one day before Apple’s Special Event, Digitimes, a technology publication based in Taipei, published an article that described, “Shipments of a new MacBook Air, reportedly equipped with a 12-inch Retina screen, have begun in small volumes…Apple is set to host an event on October 16 where it is expected to unveil new iPads and the new 12-inch MacBook air, the sources added.”
However, the MacBook Air rumors did not come to fruition. It doesn’t seem too surprising, since a MacBook Air with a Retina screen could definitely cannibalize the sales of higher-end MacBook Pros with Retina screens. At the moment, consumers must shell out at least $1,299 to get an Apple laptop experience on a Retina screen.
Engadget’s “Here’s Why Apple doesn’t have a MacBook Air with a Retina display” does a thorough job of explaining the tech limitations at play with Retina display technology. Two components are extremely integral to the success of a laptop with a Retina display — the graphics processor and the battery. The MacBook Pro with Retina display weighs in at 3.46 pounds for the 13-inch model, sporting a wider laptop chassis than the MacBook Air. This extra width and weight accommodate more a robust graphics processor and battery, exactly what the MacBook Pro needs to power the Retina display. Engadget notes that it would be extremely difficult to fit this technology into the slim MacBook Air. It’s 13-inch model weights in at just 2.96 pounds. At the moment, consumers buy the MacBook Air for its lightness and slim profile, not for a stunning visual experience.
Engadget describes other laptop manufacturers that have tried to compete with the MacBook Air, by packing high-resolution screens into extremely portable laptops. However, the effect usually falls short, as these laptops struggle along with brief battery lives.
On the flip side, the rest of the Apple Special Event ushers in new computing displays that bode well for display aficionados. Just take a gander at the newly announced 5K iMac with Retina display. This computer is only available in the 27-inch configuration starting at $2,499. By default the new iMac comes with an AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics processes with 2GB of memory, however the iMac can be customized with a R9 M295X with 4GB of memory. The full specs for this desktop computer are available now at Apple’s official website.