Apple may launch new Macbook Air models in Q1 2012

Apple will launch refreshed models of the popular MacBook Air laptop in the first quarter of 2012, including a new 15-inch model, according to a Digitimes report.

Hardware manufacturers are expected to debut between 30 and 50 new “ultrabook” laptop models at CES in January. Ultrabooks, like the MacBook Air, have a minimalist thin-and-light design philosophy and emphasize low power usage and strong processing abilities. If the Digitimes report is true, Apple is concerned about the new deluge of Windows-based MacBook Air competitors and wants to have the most up-to-date components for a refreshed model to better compete.

The Digitimes report says Apple has planned new MacBook Air notebooks with panel sizes of 11.6, 13.3 and 15 inches, but only cites unnamed sources from the Apple manufacturing supply chain. (Digitimes has a hit-and-miss record with Apple manufacturing news.) Apple does not currently offer a 15-inch MacBook Air, but it does offer a 15-inch MacBook Pro, so an eventual 15-inch option on the Air is a reasonable guess.

In the ultrabook realm, Asus, Acer, HP and Toshiba have already announced models, but we wouldn’t be surprised if these manufacturers debuted more machines in January at CES, the largest consumer electronics convention of the year. Digitimes suggests enterprises especially will be more interested in Windows-based ultrabooks, most likely because they will work best with legacy software. Some PC manufacturers are also expected to be waiting for next year’s Intel Ivy Bridge 22-nanometer processors before releasing models.

Are you interested in the MacBook Air or do Windows ultrabooks catch your eye more?