The Retina MacBook Pro comes in both 13-inch and 15-inch varieties, but when will the MacBook Air go Retina? Analyst Daniel Matte speculates that it could happen soon, and when it does, there will be three MacBooks with Retina Displays: the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and a 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina Display. Twelve?
It actually makes some sense. As Matte points out, if Apple doubles the existing 1366 x 762 resolution of the MacBook Air, they could do this most easily by recutting existing iPad Retina Displays at 264 ppi to create a 2732 x 1536 display.
It turns out that an ~11.88” Retina MacBook Air with a 2732 × 1536 resolution happens to have the exact same pixel density as the 9.7” 2048 × 1536 Retina iPads: ~264 PPI. It would make sense for Apple to take advantage of the same display technology it has been utilizing for the 9.7” iPads by cutting their panels to this larger size. I suspect a new 11.88” Air would be a redesign of the 11.6” model with smaller screen bezels.
On his own blog, developer Benjamin Mayo points out that pixel-doubling is not a requirement for a Retina Mac:
For OS X, unlike iOS, pixel-doubling is not a requirement. Due to the windowed nature of OS X, apps can run on devices with a whole variety of screen resolutions. There may be cost savings for Apple (by using iPad display sheets at a different size), but I can’t imagine that the savings are so significant as to dictate Apple’s course.
He speculates that Apple could just as easily recut the 15-inch or 13-inch MacBook Pro displays, which is certainly true. That said, so far, Apple has consistently defined ‘Retina’ as pixel-doubling, even on its line of laptops, and there’s no suggestion that they intend on stopping now.
Even so, I’d buy a 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina Display, especially if it was accomplished with smaller bezels. What about you?