The year of the Retina display: New MacBook Airs, iMacs may get it too

It seems like 2012 will become the year when utra-high resolution computer displays become the norm — at least on Apple’s devices.

Following up on Monday’s news about Retina displays (among other upgrades) in new MacBook Pros, 9to5Mac is reporting that Apple is also working on bringing higher-res screens to its new (and still unannounced) MacBook Airs and iMacs.

To be clear, Apple’s current laptops and desktops already feature impressive screen resolutions for their respective sizes — especially when measured against Windows PC competitors. But by bumping up those specs further, Apple’s next machines will be able to make just about anything look better. It won’t be as dramatic as the difference between the iPad 2 and new iPad’s screens, but it will allow Apple to keep pushing the boundaries in screen technology.

Sources tell 9to5Mac that Apple’s next MacBook Airs won’t see a major redesign, but they’ll receive hardware upgrades to run Retina displays smoothly. The new computers will likely run Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors — which are more power efficient than last year’s Core i5 –  and feature improved graphics capabilities. Additionally, the Air’s battery will also be improved to support the higher resolution screen.

While I don’t doubt that Apple has its heart set on bringing Retina displays to all of its machines, the company will likely have a hard time finding suppliers for screens larger than 15 inches. For that reason, I suspect we’ll see Retina displays in the new iMacs long after they hit Apple’s laptops.