I’m not sure I like the compromises Apple makes to keep its MacBook Airs slim, like the 11.6" model’s relatively small battery. Still, like many Apple products before them, the new Airs seem destined to spawn an army of copycats. The folks at DigiTimes have been tipped off by sources at notebook makers that several MacBook Air rivals featuring Sandy Bridge processors will be out next quarter.
Acer, Asus, and Lenovo will reportedly introduce those machines, outfitting them with 13.3-14" displays and matching form factors. Considering the Sandy Bridge guts, those larger screen sizes make sense… there can’t be much of a market left for premium 11.6" ultraportables, which I’ve heard some folks call "overpriced netbooks" despite the more powerful hardware inside.
In any case, DigiTimes says changes to LCD assembly conventions spearheaded by Apple have brought about panels "up to 3-5mm thinner" than before. So, along with powerful Sandy Bridge processors, the new Acer, Asus, and Lenovo machines may also be slimmer than their predecessors. That could leave the MacBook Air family some heated competition. Apple’s razor-thin notebooks are still packing old-fashioned Core 2 processors, and while they do have Nvidia graphics built in, Sandy Bridge’s integrated graphics promise to be quite potent.