Apple apparently exploring further updates to resolve MacBook Pro battery/Lion issues

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 15:11
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Sometimes the firmware update doesn’t fix everything…

Per AppleInsider, as some users continue to report battery life issues running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on older MacBooks, Apple continues to look into the problem in hopes of finding a solution.

One user reported receiving a phone call from an Apple technician last week. The representative was said to be following up on both an AppleCare call and Genius Bar appointment involving the customer in July, just after Mac OS X Lion was released as an upgrade on the Mac App Store for US$29.99.

“My (MacBook Pro) battery life dropped precipitously after the install, and the Apple support team was clueless,” this person wrote. “It kind of ended there, until the phone call last week.”

The user was given the impression that Apple is still working on addressing the bug, as they were asked to send an e-mail back to the Apple technician sharing data from a number of tests. These tests included running commands in the terminal window of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

“I was told to expect a software update addressing the issue eventually,” they wrote.

Other users continue to detail their own problems with battery life after upgrading to Lion on Apple’s official Support Communities website. One thread has ballooned to more than 1,200 posts and 130,000 views, with more being added every day.

“After a full charge on my 17 inch (MacBook Pro), I booted up this morning and it took 5% of the battery to boot up,” user “DucatiMonster” wrote on Apple’s forums on Monday. “It said 2:52 minutes left, and now 20 minutes later it says 1:33 left. I will be lucky to get a full hour out of this battery that got 8 hours a couple days ago.”

The person later posted that their MacBook Pro, after upgrading to Lion, managed 2 hours and 24 minutes of uptime, most of it with the screen off. Another user, “Nickofari,” said they went through two calls to AppleCare and two Genius Bar visits to troubleshoot the problem, but no solutions have been provided.

“At the last Genius Bar appointment, they said I need to check-in my computer so they could diagnose the problem more deeply,” they wrote. “It’s a reasonable approach, but not for me. If I had an extra machine, I would do this, but as my (MacBook Pro) is my primary work computer and I can’t live without it. Even with AppleCare, Apple suggested that I buy into the US$499 Business Joint Venture Program so they might provide a loaner. Disappointing to be sure.”

If you’ve seen these concerns on your end, please let us know.

Scientists looking into methods of boosting consumer battery strengths via millions of tiny holes

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 08:27
Category: battery, News

Even if you’d like to throw your MacBook or MacBook Pro’s battery through a wall on occasion, there’s hope.

Per BBC News, a new battery development technique could allow batteries for phones and notebooks to recharge up to ten times faster and hold a charge ten times larger than current technology allows.

Scientists at Northwestern University in the US have changed the materials in lithium-ion batteries to boost their abilities.

One change involves poking millions of minuscule holes in the battery.

Batteries built using the novel technique could be in the shops within five years, estimate the scientists.

In essence, a mobile phone battery built using the Northwestern techniques would charge from flat in 15 minutes and last a week before needing a recharge.

The density and movement of lithium ions are key to the process.

Dr. Harold Kung and his team at Northwestern said they have found a way to cram more of the ions in and to speed up their movement by altering the materials used to manufacture a battery.

The maximum charge has been boosted by replacing sheets of silicon with tiny clusters of the substance to increase the amount of lithium ions a battery can hold on to.

The recharging speed has been accelerated using a chemical oxidation process which drills small holes – just 20-40 nanometers wide – in the atom-thick sheets of graphene that batteries are made of.

This helps lithium ions move and find a place to be stored much faster.

The downside is that the recharging and power gains fall off sharply after a battery has been charged about 150 times.

“Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today,” said lead scientist Prof Harold Kung from the chemical and biological engineering department at Northwestern.

So far, the work done by the team has concentrated on making improvements to anodes – where the current flows into the batteries when they are providing power.

The group now plans to study the cathode – where the current flows out – to make further improvements.

A paper detailing the work of Prof Kung and his co-workers has been published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available…and a MacBook Pro battery that charged in less than 15 minutes, the ladies would love it.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 (Snow Leopard) firmware update for 15-inch MacBook Pro units running Mac OS X 10.6

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 05:12
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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It’s not the meatiest firmware update in the world, but it could still prove helpful in a pinch.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple has released its MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 (Snow Leopard) firmware update, a fix for Snow Leopard users experiencing the “Intermittent black screen or loss of video” issue. The company released a fix for Lion users in October, and this release brings Snow Leopard users up to date on the problem, too.

Apple’s patch notes simply say, “This update addresses an issue where MacBook Pro (15-inch Mid 2010) computers may intermittently freeze or stop displaying video.”

The update, a 51.45 megabyte download, can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature provided you have a qualifying MacBook Pro and Mac OS X 10.6.8 installed.

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

Rumor: Apple prepping ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook for Q2 2012

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 04:31
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The nice thing with rumors: there’s generally a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered a “small volume” of components for a 15-inch ultra-thin notebook that could appear as early as the second quarter of 2012.

Upstream suppliers are said to have begun shipping the components this month, though it remains unclear whether the final version of the 15-inch laptop will be marketed as a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro. Based on the timing of the order, sources believe that mass shipments of the device will begin in March of next year.

However, it should be noted that the publication has, as of late, had spotty reliability when it comes to Apple product predictions, though it claims to be well-connected in the Asian supply chain.

Late last month, it was reported that Apple was finishing up a “test phase” for a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook. The Mac maker is also rumored to be developing a 17-inch ultraportable MacBook, though such a machine was not mentioned in Tuesday’s report.

According to sources close to the story, Apple appears poised to move its MacBook Pro lines more toward the MacBook Air next year. The company is believed to be interested in bringing features, including instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures and the omission of optical drives, to the MacBook Pro in future designs.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to telegraph such a move last year when he said that the MacBook Air, which had been redesigned to incorporate standout features from the iPad, represented the “future of the MacBook.”

The MacBook Air’s portion of Apple’s total Mac sales saw a significant jump in July after the company released an upgrade with Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge processors and back-lit keyboards. According to a recent analysis, the thin-and-light notebook now makes up 28 percent of Apple’s notebook shipments, up from 8 percent in May and June.

As of the September quarter, portables represented 74 percent of the company’s Mac sales, despite seeing record desktop sales in the same period. Meanwhile, total Mac sales last quarter were the highest ever at 4.85 million units.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray believes the latest NPD domestic sales data point to Apple selling 5.3 million Macs over the holiday quarter. Wall Street consensus for the quarter stands at 5.2 million.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.