Apple cites iPhone 4S, MacBook Air and Mac mini products as “Bluetooth Smart Ready”

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 11:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Mac mini, MacBook Air, News

No one ever said wireless communication with devices was a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s latest products, including the iPhone 4S and updated Mac mini and MacBook Air, are among a group of low-power Bluetooth devices now branded as “Bluetooth Smart Ready.”

Bluetooth Smart is a new brand extension given by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to devices that implement Bluetooth 4.0. Compatible devices include phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.

“Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready devices will revolutionize the way we collect, share and use information,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “In order to ensure consumers know what these extraordinary devices have to offer, we created the Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready marks. These new logos will help consumers manage compatibility, and encourage manufacturers to build their best Bluetooth devices yet.”

Bluetooth Smart devices are sensor-type devices like heart-rate monitors or pedometers. They run on button-cell batteries and were created to collect only a specific piece of information.

Bluetooth Smart Ready devices can connect to traditional Bluetooth devices, as well as new Bluetooth Smart devices that are just starting to enter the market. But Bluetooth Smart devices, because of their lower power consumption, will only connect with products labeled as Bluetooth Smart Ready.

Packages will now carry three potential logos created by the Bluetooth SIG to help consumers identify what their device offers, whether it be traditional Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, or Bluetooth Smart Ready.

“Consumers can look at new Bluetooth Smart Ready devices the same way they would a 3D ready TV — having the TV is just the first part of the puzzle, you need glasses and content in order to really experience 3D,” said Suke Jawanda, CMO of the Bluetooth SIG. “Once consumers have a Bluetooth Smart Ready device, like the new iPhone 4S, they can continue connecting to existing Bluetooth devices and are also ready to experience the new world of Bluetooth Smart peripheral devices that will carry the Bluetooth Smart logo.”

Bluetooth 4.0 support first appeared in Apple’s products in July, when the MacBook Air lineup and Mac mini were refreshed. Other Macs released this year — new iMacs and MacBook Pros — only support Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), but Bluetooth 4.0 also came to the new iPhone 4S released earlier this month.

Apple joined the Bluetooth SIG board of directors in June, and now takes part in overseeing the development of standards and licensing for the short-range wireless technology. When Apple joined, the special interest group said the iPhone maker would provide insight on platform development, as the company understands that technology is now driven by “hub devices” that capture data, utilize data at the application layer, and even upload it to the cloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for early 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks, 2011 Mac mini desktops

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 05:10
Category: Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released firmware updates for the latest Mac mini and MacBook Pro models to address issues with Lion Internet Recovery and Thunderbolt connectivity.

Per Macworld, like Monday’s MacBook Air update, EFI Firmware Update 1.3 (for mid-2011 Mac mini models) offers stability enhancements for Lion Internet Recovery and fixes an issue with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibiltity as well as performance in Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode.

The patch for the MacBook Pro, EFI Firmware Update 2.2, provides similar Thunderbolt fixes, though unlike its newer cousins, the MacBook Pro does not ship with Internet Recovery; as such, this update actually enables the use of Internet Recovery on a MacBook Pro. Internet Recovery allows you to, in the event of a hard drive crash, reinstall Lion over the internet, without a physical Lion Recovery partition.

To update your Mac mini or MacBook Pro, you can snag the update via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature or from Apple’s Support website. From there, you’ll want to have your computer connected to power (or, in the case of your laptop, a working power adapter). Your computer will reboot to a gray screen to install the firmware; you’ll be able to track the progress using a status bar at the bottom of the screen.

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

iFixit releases dual hard drive kit for 2011 Mac mini units

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Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 05:32
Category: hard drive, Hardware, Mac mini, News

This might prove useful.

Teardown specialist and accessory manufacturer iFixit has announced that the company has released its Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit. While the kit doesn’t come with an additional hard drive, it provides you with the tools to install one, including a proprietary SATA hard drive cable, four shock-absorbing mounting grommets, four mounting screws, a Mac Mini Logic Board Removal Tool, a 26-Piece Bit Driver Kit, and a handy spudger.

Users can install either a solid-state or traditional spinning hard drive, depending on your preferences.

Though iFixit lists this repair as “difficult,” the company does provide a 38 installation guide along with the product.

Users can purchase the Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit from iFixit’s website for US$70 and you’ll need a 2011-era 2.33GHz, 2.5GHz, or 2.7GHz Mac Mini (Model A1347).

OWC announces 8GB RAM modules for 2011 model MacBook Pro, Mac mini units

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 07:43
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News

Ok, if there’s one computer part you sort of have to splurge on, it’s RAM.

And there’s no real argument against that.

Per MacNN, Mac outfitter Other World Computing has announced its RAM kits for the 2011 model MacBook Pro and Mac minis with its DDR3 1333MHz 8GB modules. The modules will also work with the latest model iMacs, doubling their RAM capacity to 32GB.

The company offers kits including 12GB (one 8GB module with one 4GB module) for US$500, a 16GB kit (two 8GB modules) that will max out the 2011 MacBook Pro and 2011 Mac mini, both of which only have two slots, for US$929.

Because the 27-inch iMac i5 and i7 models have four slots that take the same model of RAM, OWC offers a 24GB kit (two 8GB, two 4GB) for $1,000, and a 32GB kit (four 8GB modules) for those machines for US$1,848. The kits all use OWC’s own MaxRAM brand.

If you’ve tried the new kits and have any feedback, let us know in the comments.

iFixIt performs teardown of 2011 Mac mini, finds room for second hard drive

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 04:32
Category: Mac mini, News

A teardown of Apple’s just-released Mac Mini reveals a similar design to the previous generation, though with the addition of the new processor, Thunderbolt controller and Bluetooth 4.0, while the company’s decision to remove the optical drive made room for a second storage drive.

Apple released the latest version of the Mac Mini on Wednesday, adding next-generation Intel processors, improved graphics for up to twice the performance, and the high-speed Thunderbolt port. The company also released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, new MacBook Airs and a Thunderbolt LED Cinema Display.

Per AppleInsider, the cool cats at iFixit have taken apart the 2.3GHz Core i5 version of the new 2011 Mac mini, noting that the innards “look rather identical to the previous model.”

As is often the case with the company, Apple has given and taken away. This time around, the Mac maker has made the controversial decision to remove the optical drive. But, with the centimeter and a half of extra space gained, the company has made room for a second hard drive or solid state drive.

iFixIt suggests that users may be able to install a second hard drive by themselves, with the only deterrent being “the availability of a second SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable.” Apple does offer dual hard drive build-to-order options for its more expensive 2.5GHz i5 model and the quad-core 2.0GHz i7 server version comes standard with two 500GB HDDs, but iFixit’s teardown appears to show that users can add a second drive to the low-end model on their own.

According to the report, the Mac Mini utilizes a similar Thunderbolt port controller to that found in the Early 2011 iMac. The desktop also contains the same Bluetooth 4.0 chip as the one discovered in the MacBook Air earlier on Thursday.

The Mac Mini received a notable repairability score of 8 out of 10; the desktop contains no proprietary screws, nor does it use any glue that needs to be removed. The report found upgrades to the RAM and hard drive to be an easy task. Removing the power supply does take some more work, however, as all of the internals must be removed first.

Benchmarks for the new Mac Mini reveal that the new models are “absolute screamers,” with the top of the line units running roughly twice as fast as last year’s models.

If you’ve snagged the new Mac mini and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple premieres Mac mini without optical drive

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 03:59
Category: Mac mini, News

It’s not the end times, but it is a change.

For the first time ever, Apple’s new Mac mini models, released on Wednesday, lack an optical drive for CDs or DVDs, as the Mac maker continues to move away from physical formats like discs.

Per AppleInsider, Apple boasted in unveiling the new Mac mini hardware that the systems were “designed without an opitcal disc drive.” The company noted that the Mac mini can access optical drives on other PCs and Macs, and also works with the MacBook Air external SuperDrive accessory.

While the new Mac minis lack optical drives, they did gain Apple’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port, allowing it to connect to high-performance storage devices, RAID arrays, and the new 27-inch LED Thunderbolt display.

Apple began to move away from optical drives in its Mac lineup in 2008, when the first MacBook Air was released without any built-in disc reader. But the Air remained a relatively niche product in Apple’s lineup until 2010, when the product was redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and was expanded to screen sizes of both 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, all at a lower price.

For those who bought last year’s MacBook Air, the notebook came with a USB reinstall drive for its built-in Snow Leopard operating system. Its inclusion eliminated the need for any optical media to restore the system.

Apple is moving away from legacy formats in favor of digital downloads, and is pushing its own Mac App Store as the default way to obtain software. Apple’s new operating system upgrade, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, launched on Wednesday exclusively on the Mac App Store.

If you’ve snagged the new Mac mini and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to manufacture Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped Mac Pro, Mac mini units in August

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:57
Category: Mac mini, Mac Pro, Rumor

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In spite of a current lack of native devices for the mighty Thunderbolt port, a new rumor places Apple as manufacturing new Mac Pro and Mac mini systems with Thunderbolt this August.

Per a Twitter post from CNET’s Brian Tong on Sunday, the “all new” next-generation Mac Pros and Mac Minis will launch “either end of July (or) first week of August.”

He then followed up with a second post, in which he said that August is “more likely.” He also suggested that Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt would appear on both machines, as expected, though he added that “no details for specs or configurations were given.”

Tong in March correctly pointed to the launch of new iMacs, also with Thunderbolt ports and Sandy Bridge processors. He said the updated all-in-one desktops would arrive by early May, and they went on sale right on schedule.

The Mac Pro was last updated in late July of 2010. The tower was upgraded to 12 processing cores with Intel Xeon processors, making them up to 50% faster than their predecessors.

Just a month before, a redesigned Mac mini was released in June adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to a high-definition television. The Mac mini also sports a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera, all in a size just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin starting at US$699.

The MacBook Air is also expected to receive an upgrade in the near future to be outfitted with Sandy Bridge processors and a Thunderbolt port. Last week, it was reported that Apple is expected to hold off on releasing any new Mac hardware until its next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, goes on sale in July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, authorized resellers offer Black Friday savings on desktop Macs, notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 26th, 2010, 05:40
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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Black Friday has begun and so have the discounts.

Per iPodNN, Apple is presently offering US$101 off certain Macs, albeit authorized resellers are offering up to $150 off white MacBooks, $270 off MacBook Pros, $180 off iMacs, $130 off MacBook Airs and $100 off Mac minis.

Apple’s Black Friday sale offers US$101 off MacBook Pros, iMacs and 13-inch MacBook Airs, in addition to US$41 off iPads, up to US$21 off iPod nanos, and up to US$41 off iPod touches, plus a handful of accessory deals. In every case but the iPad, however, resellers have well undercut Apple, as can be seen in AppleInsider’s Mac Pricing Guide, below.

White 13-inch MacBooks:
For its part, MacConnection (Black Friday sale) maintains the lowest price on the sole white MacBook, blowing out units at US$849.99 (a US$149 discount).

MacBook Airs:
Long-time reseller MacMall has teamed up with AppleInsider to offer its readers an additional, exclusive 2% discount off Apple’s new family of MacBook Airs when using the links in this article or the price guide. Unlike MacConnection, whose deals are tied to mail-in-rebates, MacMall’s Black Friday savings all run off instant discounts, meaning the prices you see on the reseller’s website are the prices you pay, no rebates needed.

The exclusive coupons on the Airs bring the bringing the 1.40GHz 11″ MacBook Air 64GB to US$929.04 (US$70 savings), the 1.40GHz 11″ MacBook Air 128GB to US$1,116.22 (US$83 savings), the 1.86GHz 13″ MacBook Air 128GB to US$1,174.04 (US$125 savings), and the 1.86GHz 13″ MacBook Air 256GB to US$1,468.04 (US$131 savings).

MacBook Pros:
For MacBook Pros, MacConnection continues to extend the best deals across the board with its mail-in-rebates. Among the standouts are the 2.66GHz 13″ MacBook Pro for US$1,299 (US$200 savings), the 2.4GHz 15″ MacBook Pro for US$1,599 (US$200 savings), the 2.53GHz 15″ MacBook Pro for US$1,579 (US$240 savings), and the 2.53GHz 17″ MacBook Pro for US$2,029 (US$270 savings).

iMacs:
MacConnection is also offering the 3.06GHz 21.5″ iMac for US$1,049.00 (US$150 savings), the 3.20GHz 21.5″ iMac for US$1,349 (US$150 savings), the 3.20GHz 27.0″ iMac for US$1,529 (US$170 savings), and the 2.80GHz 27.0″ iMac quad-core for US$1,819.00 (US$180 savings).

Mac minis:
MacConnection is also offering the 2.40GHz Mac mini for US$599 (US$100 savings), with a strict limit of 1 per customer. Amazon, however, has matched the US$599 pricing without imposing a limit. For the 2.66GHz Mac mini Server, MacMall, Amazon, and B&H Photo have the lowest pricing at US$954 (US$45 savings).

Mac Pros:
When it comes to Mac Pros, a handful of resellers are offering similar pricing on the 2.80GHz 4-Core and 2.40GHz 8-Core models. For its part, MacMall has taken US$400 off the high-end 2.66GHz 12-Core Mac Pro

It should also be noted the both MacConnection and MacMall are offering free shipping and free printers with each Mac purchase. MacMall is also offering a free copy of Parallels Desktop 6 with each Mac purchase. Both offers are tied to rebates.

If you’ve seen any memorable Black Friday Mac deals in your area, please let us know.

2010 Mac mini teardown report posted, interesting discoveries found

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Date: Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 06:13
Category: Mac mini, News

Apple’s slim new 2010 Mac mini received the royal treatment/acceptance into the tech world recently via a complete teardown by tech firm iFixit shows.

A teardown report by iFixit shows how Apple fit the slim system’s power supply inside the unibody aluminum case and reveals a variety of new innovations.

Rather than needing an external power supply, the new unit ships with simply an AC power cable (similar to Apple TV and Time Capsule), and Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. The new model also includes a built in HDMI port for delivering audio and digital video to an HDTV display over one cable.

The new Mac Mini includes an SD Card slot just like recent MacBook Pros, and includes four USB 2.0 ports, along with the standard Gigabit Ethernet and a FireWire 800 port. After taking a new unit apart, iFixit discovered the following new changes:

– The Mac mini’s unibody top enclosure is machined from a single block of aluminum, with a twist off rubber base that exposes RAM components for easy access. “Removing the RAM is very simple this time around, requiring only the simple prying of two clips.” The bottom cover also provides a radio window in the metal case for WiFi and Bluetooth.

“There are two blind holes in the case of the Mini that are meant for the ends of Apple’s custom U-shaped logic board removal tool. We just used two Torx screwdrivers. We call them the ‘Mac mini logic board removal tool.'”

– The new Mac mini’s power supply provides “a minuscule 7 Amps at 12V. Compare that to the 25.8 Amps at 12V cranked out by the 27 inch iMac, and you can understand how they fit the power supply inside the Mini.”
“The fan doesn’t have too much work to do, since the new Mac Mini is the most energy-efficient desktop, running on less than 10 watts at idle! In keeping with its space saving design, the fins directing air toward the vent hole are slanted to allow for better fan placement.”

– The fan cools the CPU and CPU via a wraparound heat sink tube that wicks heat toward the fins and blows it out the wide slot on the back panel.

iFixit notes that the Mac mini’s 3/8 inch woofer dome “won’t be popping ear drums anytime soon” and may be a bit underpowered for some audiophiles.

Apple releases updated, slimmer Mac mini with HDMI, SD card ports

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:57
Category: Announcement, Mac mini

Apple on Tuesday updated its Mac mini desktop computer, adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to an HDTV, as well as a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera.

The newly redesigned hardware is just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin. It also has a built-in power supply, which means it lacks a bulky external power brick, which Apple said means the tiny desktop Mac takes up even less space than before, with 20 percent less system volume than the previous model.

“The sleek, aluminum Mac mini packs great features, versatility and value into an elegant, amazingly compact design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With twice the graphics performance, HDMI support and industry-leading energy efficiency, customers are going to love the new Mac mini.”

The new Mac mini includes the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor, which delivers up to twice the performance of its predecessor. It also comes standard with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 320GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM at the $699 starting price.

In March, AppleInsider first reported that Apple was building its first Macs with an HDMI port for high definition video and audio output. HDMI, or High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is a cabling standard intended for home theater, built on top of the computer-oriented DVI, or Digital Video Interface, specification.

Weeks ago, AppleInsider revealed that supply of the Mac mini was dwindling ahead of the release of new models.

Availability

Shipping today, the Mac mini is available through the Apple store, retail stores, and authorized retailers. The $699 model includes:

2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;
2GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;
a slot-load 8X SuperDrive® (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm;
NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
AirPort Extreme® 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
Gigabit Ethernet;
four USB 2.0 ports;
SD card slot;
one FireWire® 800 port;
one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;
HDMI to DVI video adapter;
combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and
combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 500GB hard drive running at 5400 rpm, Apple Remote, Aperture 3, Final Cut Express 4, Logic Express, iWork (pre-installed), Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The Mac mini with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server, for a suggested retail price of $999 (US), includes:

2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;
4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;
two 500GB Serial ATA hard drives running at 7200 rpm;
NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
Gigabit Ethernet;
four USB 2.0 ports;
SD card slot;
one FireWire 800 port;
one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;
HDMI to DVI video adapter;
combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and
combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, External SuperDrive, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

Environmental impact

Even with its doubled graphics performance, Apple said the new Mac mini is still the world’s most energy efficient desktop, based on products listed within the EPA Energy Star Small Scale Server database as of June 2010.

The new hardware uses 25 percent less power to less than 10W at idle, which is less than half the power used by competing systems. It also meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, achieves EPEAT Gold status, has a highly recyclable aluminum enclosure, and uses PVC-free components and cables with no brominated flame retardants.

Included software

The new Mac mini comes with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system, and iLife, Apple’s suite of applications for managing photos, making movies and creating and learning to play music. The $999 high-end model includes Snow Leopard Server, and allows a workgroup or small business to fulfill needs such as e-mail, calendar, file serving, Time Machine backup, Wiki Server, podcast production and more.