Microsoft targets iPad, unveils Surface tablet

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Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 07:56
Category: Hardware, News

A little competition never hurt anyone.

Per Engadget, Microsoft debuted its Surface Windows 8 tablet on Monday at a last-minute special event in Los Angeles, marking the tech monolith’s entrance into the iPad-dominated tablet market.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, showed off the tablet computer based on the company’s new Windows 8 operating system he called “the new Surface,” according to the report.

After giving a brief history of Microsoft-branded hardware like the venerable mouse and keyboard, Ballmer introduced the new device, likening it to the Xbox 360 in that it has a strong synthesis of software and hardware that push each other to new limits.

Microsoft’s President of the Windows and Windows Live Division Steven Sinofsky proceeded to show off the 10.6-inch multi-touch tablet, which features a magnesium enclosure called “VaporMg” with built-in stand, dual MIMO arrays, an optically-bonded proprietary display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 and a variety of input ports. The unit is also coated with vapor-deposited magnesium (PVD) to avoid scratching.

Surface will be sold in two distinct incarnations with one touting an Ivy Bridge i5 processor while the other will feature a low-energy NVIDIA-made ARM cortex CPU. The Intel model, called Surface for Windows 8 Pro, will weigh in at 1.9lbs at 13.5mm thick and feature a 10.6-inch 1920-by-1080 pixel ClearType full HD display. Input and output for the higher-tier Surface is handled by USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and an microSDXC card reader.

The thinner ARM cortex version will be released under the Surface for Windows RT moniker and will come in at a trim 1.5lbs and 9.8mm thick but bumps specs down to a 1280-by-720 pixel screen. Handling the heat put out by the Intel chip is what Microsoft calls “perimeter venting” or a series of integrated vents encircling the edge of the bezel, which itself is beveled. While the Windows RT model doesn’t carry the high-powered connectivity as its bigger brother, it still manages a microSD slot, USB 2.0 and Micro HD Video.



Accessories for both units include the “Touch Cover” which is a full multi-touch keyboard complete with arrow buttons that changes the color of Surface’s screen to the color of the cover when attached. Much like Apple’s Smart Cover, the Touch Cover also turns the device on and off presumably through use of magnets. The Surface “Type Cover” accessory brings physical switch-type keys and a clickable trackpad, though the part adds 5mm of girth to the tablet.

The Surface supports palm-blocking Digital Ink technology and can mark up PDFs and other supported documents with a digitizer, though the feature seems to be limited to the Intel model.

It is unclear what company is manufacturing the tablet for Microsoft, though the product itself looks to be a branded device with prominent Windows logos adorning the screen bezel and the back kick-stand.

The debut of the ARM-based Windows RT version of Surface is set to coincide with the launch of Windows 8 and will be available in 32GB and 64GB flavors. Pricing will be in-line with competing ARM tablets. The Intel Ivy Bridge i5-based Windows Pro Surface is slated to follow about three months later and will be sold in 64GB and 128GB capacities with prices comparable to Ultrabook PCs.

Full video of the event can be found here and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases external Mac OS X 10.7.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 06:28
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a good operating system beta.

Per AppleInsider, work on OS X 10.7.5, the next performance and maintenance update for Lion, is far enough along that Apple is preparing to issue a preview of the software to its developers for testing.

A pre-release build of OS X 10.7.5 is set to be released to a limited number of members of Apple’s development community in the coming days, sources familiar with the software indicated on Monday. Public testing among all members of the Apple Developer Connection will likely begin soon after.

Details on what fixes or updates OS X 10.7.5 might include remain unknown. But any changes are likely to be relatively insignificant, as Apple is gearing up to launch the next major version of its Mac operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, next month.

The last update to Lion, OS X 10.7.4, was publicly released in early May. It included a fix for a potential security flaw in FileBug.

OS X 10.7.4 also quietly added support for Retina display Macs, more than a month before Apple officially announced its next-generation MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina display. That notebook began shipping last week with OS X 10.7.4 installed, featuring high-resolution support for icons and native applications.

Apple announced last week that Mountain Lion will arrive on the Mac App Store in July for US$19.99. Those who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and the date Mountain Lion hits the App Store will be eligible for a free upgrade to OS X 10.8.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 firmware upgrade

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Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 06:59
Category: Hardware, News, Software

On Tuesday, Apple released its Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 firmware upgrade for its Thunderbolt-equipped Macs running Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”). The update, a 506 kilobyte download, adds support for the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter.

In addition to the direct download, Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2.1 is available through Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature. The update requires a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.