Should you buy a new MacBook Air now, or wait for a new MacBook Pro later?

At WWDC yesterday Apple introduced new MacBook Air models. They left out new MacBook Pros, which some folks were expecting, which may throw a wrench in your buying plans. Is it better off to get a MacBook Air now, get a MacBook Pro now, or wait until Apple revises the MacBook Pro? Let's weigh the options.

The MacBook Air has been upgraded with new silicon from Intel - their fourth-generation Core processors, known by their code-name, "Haswell." The biggest benefit the new processors offer is dramatically improved battery life - from an estimated five to nine hours on the 11-inch model, and from seven to 12 hours on the 13-inch model. There's also faster graphics by up to 40 percent and much, much faster WiFi, with support for gigabit transfer speeds when paired either with a new AirPort Extreme or another 802.11ac-equipped wireless router. There are some other minor tweaks, like the addition of dual microphones.

All told, it's a solid refresh to the MacBook Air, though it's not an earth shattering change. Surely, anyone who's in the market for a new MacBook Air is going to get a solid value for the money.

The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, remains unchanged. I have to say that I'm rather pleased with this since I just took possession of a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display in April, and I was dreading the prospect of having a suddenly obsolete machine.

Having said that, Intel's fourth-generation Core processors come in many different configurations and clock speeds, so it's inevitable that they will be updated with the new hardware - faster integrated graphics and better battery life is just too much of a draw for Apple not to upgrade the MacBook Pro line to Haswell as soon as it's reasonable to do so.

Intel is rolling out new Haswell chips gradually over the next few months, and I expect as soon as chips with higher clock speeds start to ship in volume, we'll see Apple bump the MacBook Pros with new versions. Otherwise, I wouldn't expect many major changes to the design or feature set of the MacBook Pro.

Bottom line

Obviously if you need the horsepower and the feature set of an MBP today, you should get one. But your patience will be rewarded in due time - Apple's migration of the MacBook Pro to Haswell processors is a virtual certainty. The question is when.

And if you're in the market for a lightweight laptop, step up and buy one of the new MacBook Airs - with better power efficiency and better graphics performance, there's never been a better time to buy.

Peter Cohen