iWant: A Carbon Fiber MacBook Air

Rumors are circulating about a potential 12″ MacBook Air, which would replace the two existing models, one with an 11″ display, and the other with a 13″ screen. I love the MacBook Air; I had two over the years, starting with the first model back in 2008. I don’t have one any more, though. Since the MacBook Pro was released with retina displays, I shifted to that model. But my current MacBook Pro is getting on two years old, and I would be very attracted by a retina MacBook Air.

Powerbook 100Over the years, Apple has used a variety of materials for its laptops. The first Mac I owned, the PowerBook 100, came in the drab, dark gray plastic that Apple used for several generations of portable computers.

The iBook, which debuted in 1999, came in several types of plastic. The first clamshell models had colors, like the early iMacs, and later iBooks were available in any color you wanted, as long is it was white or black.

15 inch titanium powerbookBut in 2001, Apple shipped the PowerBook G4, with a titanium body. This was the first metal laptop in what would become a long string of models. The titanium body didn’t last long, and was plagued by hinges that broke under normal use. Two years later, Apple shipped aluminum body PowerBook G4s, and the company has stuck with aluminum – or aluminium – ever since.

I would love to see a changed, and the one material that seems to be perfectly adapted to portable computers is carbon fiber. This material is a bit lighter than aluminum, and can be a lot stronger, though it has manufacturing constraints. Aluminum can be extruded and milled, whereas carbon fiber has to be molded, then baked. This process might be too expensive for portable devices.

However, it would certainly look cool. It’s been many years since there were black Apple laptops. With a sleek carbon fiber body, with visible grain, Apple could make black the new black.