Apple Contemplating Merging Macbook Air, Macbook Pro Range?

Apple may be looking at extending the Macbook Air design to the rest of its laptop family according to a report that has emerged courtesy of MacRumors and TUAW.

Both sites claim that Apple will launch two new notebooks, a 15-inch model and a 17-inch model, under the Macbook Pro branding. The Macbook Air has proved to Apple's most popular Apple computer, partly because of its pricing but also because of its design.

The new models are unlikely to have an optical drive, although their bigger chassis would allow Apple to add more ports to the device. The move comes as Intel and its partners are about to unleash a wave of Ultrabooks, the Windows-based equivalent of the Macbook Air and that wave will almost certainly include 15-inch and 17-inch models.

Apple may choose to wait until Intel launches its Ivy Bridge chips which are due to appear in the first half of 2012. Apple tends to have access to Intel's cutting edge products and that latest generation could give the Macbook Air an edge on the competition; Ivy Bridge will bring USB 3.0 and significantly enhanced power efficiency plus a better graphic processor that will boost OpenCL compatibility.