Amazon listing points to next-gen AirPort Express router in the works

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:47
Category: News, Rumor, wireless

Sometimes Amazon reveals a bit more than Apple would like it to.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will soon begin shipping a new version of its AirPort Express portable 802.11n base station, capping a recent series of refreshes to the company’s line of WiFi routers ahead of this fall’s iCloud launch.

Although Apple’s online store still reflects availability of “AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n and AirTunes,” authorized resellers like DataVision report that the same model (MB321LL/A) is discontinued, while Amazon estimates it will have new stock sometime in the next “2 to 5 weeks.”

Additionally, a person familiar with the matter says Apple is wrapping up the release of AirPort Utility 5.6, makes reference to a second-generation 802.11n AirPort Express in its developer notes:
“Adds support for the AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation) base station”

The current version of Airport Utility, 5.5.3, was released in June, resolving an issue that caused the tool to unexpectedly quit during setup.

The update would round out tune-ups across Apple’s AirPort device family. In June, the company quietly updated both its Time Capsule and Airport Extreme base stations. Though no specific changes were detailed in product specifications, FCC filings revealed that the new devices had received a power boost of as much as 2.8 times the original signal.

Subsequent tests revealed dramatic performance and reliability improvements to the base stations, especially when accessed from more remote locations. A teardown of the AirPort Extreme also showed that Apple has switched from Marvell WLAN cards to the Broadcom BCM4331.

But, given that FCC filings for a new Airport Express have yet to turn up, it remains unknown whether the diminutive base station will also see a signal boost when it is updated.

Apple released the first generation of 802.11n-capable AirPort Express routers in March 2008, billing the device as the world’s smallest 802.11n-based mobile base station.

As Apple has been hard at work prepping its iCloud service, rumors have swirled that the company may transition its AirPort base stations to use iOS, with some reports speculating that software updates could be delivered wirelessly via an AirPort router.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may unveil updated MacBook Pro notebooks before end of 2011

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:15
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

Just when you’d recently bought a 2011, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro and were feeling somewhat cool.

Per AppleInsider, Apple may be preparing a refresh of its professional notebook line ahead of the holiday shopping season to better bridge the gap.

According to sources close to the story, the late-2011 MacBook Pro refresh will deliver marginal speed bumps to the notebooks’ Core i-Series of Sandy Bridge processors but will otherwise introduce no material changes over the existing models.

While precise timing for the update may change, those same people say the Mac maker currently anticipates an introduction of the refreshed line before the end of the month, possible following the close of the company’s Back-to-School promotion, which ends on September 20th.

Word of the new models comes just one week after Intel quietly refreshed its Sandy Bridge lineup of processors, adding four new Core i7 chips suited for adoption by the MacBook Pro in addition to slashing prices on some other chips, while phasing out a handful of others.

In particular, Intel introduced new 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz and 2.7GHz quad-core Core i7 processors that could replace the 2.0GHz, 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz versions offered in the current 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, in addition to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7 that could serve as an upgrade path for the current 2.7GHz 13-inch MacBook Pro.

As for the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, Intel continues to list a couple of Core i5 chips at speeds of 2.5GHz to 2.6GHz that Apple could elect to use to bump 2.3GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro for little to no cost increase.

In addition to these chips, Apple may have discounted access to a handful of older Core i5 and Core i7 chips that were introduced early this year, such as the 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 models.

Although the new models may come as somewhat of a surprise for industry watchers given that there has been no indication that Apple is drawing down inventories of existing models, the refresh is likely geared towards assuring the Mac maker’s top-selling notebook family remains competitive in the market until Intel releases its next-generation Ivy Bridge platform at some point in 2012.

The Ivy Bridge architecture was originally slated to debut in late 2011, but leaked documents from Intel surfaced in May and revealed that the next-generation processors are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. The Ivy Bridge chips are now scheduled to become available at some point in March or April of next year.

The MacBook Pro remains the bread and butter of Apple’s mostly mobile Mac business, even as the newer, thin-and-light MacBook Air gains in sales. Apple’s MacBook Pros are the only notebooks offered by the company that still offer discrete graphics, making them the only option for video professionals and power users on the go.

In addition, the MacBook Pro remains the only Apple notebook with screen sizes larger than 13-inches. While the MacBook Air (and now defunct white MacBook) max out at 13-inches, the MacBook Pro still comes in 15- and 17-inch screen sizes, with faster CPUs and graphics to accompany the greater screen real estate.

Apple last updated its MacBook Pro lineup in February, giving its entry-level 13-inch models dual-core Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 chips at speeds of 2.3GHz and 2.7Ghz. The higher-end 15- and 17-inch models gained quad-core Sandy Bridge Core i7 chips at speeds of up to 2.3Ghz.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft Office 2011 updated to 14.1.3

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:01
Category: News, Software

It may not be the sexiest update in the world, but here’s hoping it helps.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.1.3 update. The update, a 112 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Office documents open in all browsers – This update resolves an issue that causes Office documents not to open in certain browsers.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
- Stability is improved in PowerPoint – This update fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to close unexpectedly. This issue occurs when you press the Command and Tab keys to open another application when you are in Presenter view.

Improvements for Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011:
- Stability is improved in Excel – This update fixes an issue that causes Excel to close unexpectedly in the following situations:
When you move worksheets to a new worksheet or workbook.
When you save some files.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
- Citation options in Dutch appear correctly. This update fixes an issue that causes the Dutch version of Word to change the citation options to English after you install Office for Mac 2011 14.1 Service Pack 1.

- PivotTable field setting enabled.This update enables the PivotTable field setting Show Items with no data.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011:
- Contact images display in the Contacts Search boxThis update fixes an issue that causes Outlook not to display contact images in the Contacts Search box.

- Import from Apple Mail is disabled in Outlook on Mac OS X 10.7 LionThis update disables the option to import from Apple Mail in Outlook because it does not work as expected in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

- The “Remove from View” option is enabled for shared calendarsThis update fixes an issue that occurs when the user adds shared calendars and opens the contextual menu for the shared calendar. The Remove from View option is disabled from the contextual menu.

- Free/busy information for Exchange 2003-based mailboxes displays correctlyThis update fixes an issues that causes the display of free/busy information for Exchange 2003-based mailboxes to be off by one hour when scheduling a meeting.

- Time zone information is updated. This update provides updated time zone information.

Microsoft Office 2011 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air EFI Firmware 2.1 update, focuses on Thunderbolt issues

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 12:31
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

Firmware updates, they make a difference.

Per the cool cats at Mac|Life, Apple today released an EFI update for the MacBook Air. The update, available here or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature, works to boost the stability of Lion Recovery from an internet connection and fixes the Thunderbolt Display compatability issues with Thunderbolt, as well as remedies any issues with the Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode performance.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any changes, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.