Apple looking into long-term plans for solar powered devices

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 08:40
Category: News

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It’s the nifty stuff that’s always down the road a bit…

Per DigiTimes, Apple has reportedly shown continued interest in building solar-powered devices, but the niche market for solar components is said to require more time to mature.

Apple and Samsung are the two companies specifically said to be “evaluating” solar power for their consumer products. Both device makers are alleged to have considered including Taiwan-based solar power component makers in their supply chains.

Citing sources in the Taiwan solar component industry, the report said that the niche market needs more time to develop and expand. Mass production of organic photovoltaic cells is said to remain an issue, and higher efficiency products are still being tested in labs and are not ready for mass production.

“The number of solar cells used is less than rooftop solar systems, hence it is unlikely for solar-powered consumer products to form a solid market in the short term,” the report said.

Samsung plans to release a solar-powered netbook, the NC215S, this August, a first for the company. The report said that the Samsung netbook utilizes a unique-sized solar cell.

A number of companies are said to be working on organic photovoltaic cells, which provide higher efficiency and are largely made with polyethylene terepthalate, or PET. America’s Solarmer and Plextronics, the U.K.’s Konarka, and Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemical are all said to be pursuing organic photovoltaic technology.

Over the years in numerous patent applications, Apple has shown interest in adopting solar power in its mobile devices. This January, one such filing described a device with an auxiliary solar cell that would serve as a secondary power source.

Another proposed invention showed an iPod with solar panels placed on both the front and back of the portable media player, giving a large surface area to collect more potential power. Apple’s concept would build solar cells of rigid materials, allowing virtually the entire exterior of the device to be covered in solar cells.

And in 2008, the company presented a concept in which it would sandwich solar panels between the LCD and circuit board of a device. In this way, a product could collect energy through its display while maintaining the aesthetics and size of the product.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone 5 case schematic shows curved sides, other details

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 02:38
Category: iPhone, Pictures

Interestingly enough, it’s the upcoming cases that tend to provide the most interesting tidbits.

Per UK web site MobileFun.co.uk, a leaked schematic claimed to be for a case for Apple’s anticipated fifth-generation iPhone shows a larger area for the home button, a slightly larger screen, and the return of curved sides like on the iPhone 3GS.

The documents allegedly come from a Chinese case manufacturer and show a design with curved sides, similar to iPhone models released before the current iPhone 4.

On the front, the case appears to have a larger, oval-shaped opening for where the device’s home button would go. That could lend support to rumors from earlier this year that Apple’s next-iPhone would feature a multi-touch “gesture area” in place of the current home button.

That same report also predicted that Apple’s next iPhone would have a slightly larger 3.7-inch edge-to-edge screen. The images that claim to show a so-called “iPhone 5″ case also suggest that the device may have a larger screen.

The photos show the handset’s volume buttons and SIM card slot in the same place, but also show placement of the vibrate switch on the opposite side.

The case also suggests the device will feature an unmoved LED camera flash, which would contradict purported fifth-generation iPhone parts (1, 2), which leaked in May and suggested the camera lens and flash would be moved further apart to improve picture quality. Separating the camera flash and lens can reduce the red-eye effect seen in photographs.

The alleged schematic would contradict other rumors that the next iPhone will have a design largely similar to the current iPhone 4, with one of the biggest changes being a new, higher-resolution 8-megapixel camera and the addition of the A5 processor. Some reports have characterized the device as an “iPhone 4S,” in references to the alleged minor changes.

Though the next iPhone will arrive later than usual this year, reports from Apple’s supply chain have been picking up, indicating that the company is preparing to begin mass production of the next-generation device. Last week, during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple executives revealed that an unnamed major product transition is in the cards to take place by the end of September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Rumor: Apple developing 15 and 17-inch MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 02:25
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With Apple’s new family of MacBook Airs selling like hotcakes, the company is believed to be working to introduce 15- and 17-inch models with a similar minimalist design to capitalize on the trend towards ultra-mobile computing.

Per MacRumors, the notebook is believed to be in the late testing stages, though no further details were provided. It’s therefore unclear at this time whether the device will be marketed under the MacBook Pro brand or arrive as an extension of the MacBook Air line.

A move away from the hefty, optical- and hard disk drive-equipped MacBook Pros and towards a family of notebooks based exclusively on thin, ultra-lightweight designs is something AppleInsider’s sources first began alluding to back in February. At the time, the transition was expected to take between 12 to 18 months.

The latest report may suggest Apple has ambitions of easing the transition by first introducing a 15-inch MacBook Air as an intermediate step. A jump towards an ultra-thin MacBook Pro before year’s end could ultimately prove burdened by too many sacrifices, given that existing technologies and componentry may not allow Apple to deliver a design as thin and lightweight as the existing Airs but powerful enough to replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Nevertheless, sources close to the story have said that MacBook Air features such as instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures, and the omission of optical drives should begin making their way to the remainder of Apple’s notebook offerings over the course of the next 12 months.

In similar news, The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that the site has also heard rumors of an ultra-thin 17-inch Apple notebook and believes both models could potentially turn up ahead of the holiday shopping season under the MacBook Pro moniker.