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Rumor: Apple to unveil smaller, cheaper MacBook Air

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While Apple has made a habit of updating its iPods, iPhone and even Apple TV like clockwork, the MacBook Air has remained stagnant since the last update in 2009. Steve Jobs himself might blow that carpet of dust off this week, though, if rumors of a revamped MacBook Air turn out to be true.

According to Cult of Mac citing a “well-placed source,” this week’s scheduled “Back to Mac” press event will herald not just the introduction of two new MacBook Airs: a refresh of the 13.3-inch model, and an 11.6-inch “netbook” size model.

The MacBook Air should remain as thin as ever, but Cult of Mac claims it will dip below the current three-pound weight, and that the style will become boxier and less rounded, “like the iPhone 4,” according to the source.

Besides the new sizes and style, both models will see guts significantly overhauled from previous versions. A 50-percent bigger battery will give the 13.3-inch model more along the lines of eight to 10 hours of life, versus just five for the current model. Although 2GB of RAM will remain standard, users will be able to upgrade both the RAM and SSD, addressing an issue many critics harped upon on the current model. Combining an SSD and OS X has allegedly endowed the new machines with insanely fast boot times, which wouldn’t surprise us considering how quickly our SSD-based new iMac sprang to life.

Processor speed should also see a step up to 2.1GHz or 2.4GHz, though it isn’t yet known whether that will be a Core 2 Duo or Core i3 model. The graphics chip will remain an Nvidia GeForce 320M.

Mac addicts should also get a reprieve on pricing: Cult of Mac claims the 13-inch model will weigh in around $1,100 and the new 11-inch model could hit the $999 level.

Will Apple tread back on its claim to never enter the netbook business with a netbook-sized MacBook Air, or is Cult of Mac blowing hot air? Stay tuned to Digital Trends Wednesday for complete coverage of Apple’s live event, which begins at 10 a.m. PST.

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