Rumor: Apple testing ultrathin, optical-drive-free 15″ MacBook Pro notebook

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 31st, 2011, 05:59
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

applelogo_silver

Never doubt the thin nature of the MacBook Air, as people tend to like it.

Per the Japanese Macotakara web blog, Apple is allegedly prepared to add a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook to its lineup in the near future, with one report claiming the company has finished development of a crucial test component.

Calling the new notebook model an extension of the MacBook Air family, Macotakara reported on Sunday that Apple is finishing up a “test phase” for the new 15-inch ultraportable. Citing an Asian source, the report said Apple has already finished development of an LCD test component for the anticipated notebook.

However, the report also noted that Apple is believed to be developing a next-generation MacBook Pro that will not have a built-in optical disc drive. The new 15-inch MacBook reportedly “seems to fill” the role of a next-generation MacBook Pro.

Whatever name the new portable Mac might take, rumors have suggested the current physical form factor of the MacBook Pro lineup will undergo a drastic redesign in 2012. For some time now it has been said that Apple will redesign its MacBook Pro lineup sometime next year.

Last week, Apple quietly updated its MacBook Pro lineup, adding slightly faster Intel Sandy Bridge processors, as well as improved AMD Radeon graphics. The new notebooks were a minor update ahead of the holiday buying season, believed to be an attempt to keep the MacBook Pro lineup competitive until a major refresh occurs next year.

Apple’s future MacBooks are expected to feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. Intel confirmed last week that it has begun volume production of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, and systems powered by the new CPUs should be available in the spring of 2012.

Currently, Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup comes with screen sizes of 13 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches, and all of its professional notebooks feature optical DVD disc drives. The MacBook Air is available with screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, and all models feature only solid-state hard drives with no optical drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.3, MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.2 upgrades

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 04:22
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Software

el17.jpg

Late Wednesday, Apple released EFI firmware updates for both its 2011 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air notebooks. The updates, which weigh in at a 4.1 megabyte download and a 4 megabyte download, respectively, fix several issues to improve the stability of Apple’s mid-2011notebooks.

The update includes fixes that enhance the stability of Lion Recovery from an Internet connection, and resolve issues with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibility and Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode performance on Apple’s mid-2011 notebook models.

As always, the updates can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

The updates require an Intel-based mid-2011 MacBook Pro or MacBook Air notebook and Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

Catcher unibody plant may reopen as early as next week

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011, 06:08
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

Maybe the problems weren’t as bad as they said they were.

Per Reuters, Apple supplier Catcher Technology said Wednesday that its China plant that builds unibody MacBook cases will fully reopen at the end of October.

The new details from Taipei, Taiwan are an indication that any supply constraints experienced by Apple could be relatively short-lived. The company was ordered to shut down a factory that builds unibody enclosures for Apple on Oct. 16.

That plant in Eastern China was said to produce 60 percent of Apple’s unibody enclosures for its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air products. The plant has also been responsible for casings for Apple’s all-in-one iMac desktop.

Catcher had previously said that a partial production halt at the factory would slash shipments in October by 20 percent. That number could have grown to as much as 40 percent in November if the local government refused to allow the plant to resume production.

But with Wednesday’s announcement that the plan will open at the end of the month, any concerns about November production appear to be assuaged. Last week, Catcher had originally said it hoped to reopen its plant at some time in November.

The Catcher facility was closed due to “strange odors” said to have been emanating from the plant. The shutdown came just as Apple reported its best quarter ever for Mac sales, reaching 4.9 million units.

Apple quietly updated its MacBook Pro lineup on Monday, with slightly faster Intel processors and updated graphics, while some models gained larger hard drives. The design of the notebooks remains unchanged, featuring Apple’s signature unibody look.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

64-bit MacBook Pro notebooks may take up to 16GB of RAM

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011, 06:12
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

In a somewhat surprising discovery, the cool cats at CNET, have discovered that despite the specified amount of RAM your MacBook Pro can max out at, the machine will still recognize and use more RAM if it’s available. With that in mind, the article recommends using the System Profile utility.

It gets interesting from there:

“These days all of Apple’s Macs are 64-bit machines, which means that theoretically they can access terabytes upon terabytes of memory; however, despite this there is a physical hardware limit on the amount of RAM a system can contain. This is true both in terms of physical capability but also in a built-in limit in the system’s memory controllers on how much RAM it can recognize. As a result, despite having 64-bit capability, many systems are built with limitations that allow them to hold a maximum of 4 or 8GB of RAM.

Even though they are 64-bit capable, Apple’s MacBook Pro systems have been offered with 8GB RAM as the maximum configuration. More recent models, including those released in 2011, have been built with a higher RAM limit, so even though Apple only offers 8GB RAM and mentions this as the maximum amount of RAM the systems can hold, in reality they can recognize up to 16GB if you add it.

These systems are the ones with the model number series of MacBookPro8,x or later, which include the following:
- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5

- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5

- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

If you have one of these systems, then you should be able to install up to 16GB of RAM if needed, which can be purchased from vendors such as Crucial or Other World Computing.”

While this upgrade is possible, do keep in mind that it will not be cheap. Even though memory prices are very low these days because low PC demand has resulted in a surplus of components, the low prices are only for relatively common RAM modules, which include the 4GB and 8GB modules. The 16GB upgrades are not as common for laptop systems, so expect to pay around US$600 if you want 16GB of RAM in a laptop system.

If you’ve tried this on your MacBook Pro, please let us know how it went and how much you paid for the RAM. Beyond that, have fun and let us know what your notebook’s true maxed out RAM capacity is.

Apple releases Apple TV 4.4.2, MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 firmware fixes

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:02
Category: Apple TV, MacBook Pro, News, Software

applelogo_silver

You’ve got to love firmware updates, as they tend to put things back on the right path again.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday issued Apple TV software update 4.4.2 to resolve issues with recent versions of the set-top box’s software, as well as Video Update 1.0 for mid-2010 15-inch MacBook Pros.

Regarding the Apple TV 4.4.2 update, Apple advised users to first reset all settings if they are already running versions 4.4 or 4.4.1.

“Apple TV devices with software version 4.4 and 4.4.1 have an issue with updating software to later versions,” Apple wrote in a support note for the update. “We recognize that this is an inconvenience and apologize.”

Last week, Apple released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.1 to fix minor bugs in version 4.4, but quickly took it down after users reported problems with it.

Released earlier this month, Apple TV software version 4.4 added Photo Stream compatibility, Trailers, Wall Street Journal Live and National Hockey League content. The update also added support for subtitles in Netflix and three new slideshow themes.

The MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 addresses an issue where 15-inch mid-2010 models would intermittently freeze or stop displaying video. The 70.97MB download requires Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 to install and run.

Apple had previously identified the problem as occurring in 15-inch MacBook Pros manufactured between April 2010 and February 2011. The bug caused both built-in and external displays on some machines to turn black or gray before freezing up or ceasing to display video.

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

Apple quietly releases updated MacBook Pro notebook models

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 24th, 2011, 08:37
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

Well, this one came by surprise.

Per AppleInsider, with no mention of the update, Apple on Monday improved its MacBook Pro lineup with slightly faster Intel processors, as well as new graphics processors and larger hard drives in some models.

The new entry-level MacBook Pro now sports a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU. It also features a larger 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive at the same cost of US$1,199.

The faster 13-inch MacBook Pro now boasts a 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, and its hard drive has also been upgraded to 750GB. It sells for US$1,499.

For the 15-inch models, both feature quad-core Intel Core i7 processors. The low-end 15-inch has a clock speed of 2.2GHz and a 500GB hard drive, plus a faster AMD Radeon HD 6750M discrete graphics card with 512MB of GDDR5. The faster 15-inch runs at 2.4GHz with a 750GB hard drive and features the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5.

And the updated 17-inch MacBook Pro features a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with a 750GB hard drive, along with the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5. All MacBook Pro models come with 4GB of RAM clocked at 1333MHz standard.

Apple’s top-of-the-line build-to-order 17-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 for an additional US$250, while the RAM can be upgraded to 8GB for another US$200. All MacBook Pro models can also have their hard drives upgraded to solid state capacities up to 512GB for as much as US$1,200.

All of the new MacBook Pros are listed as in stock, and come with free shipping. Monday’s upgrade was done silently by Apple, as the company didn’t even list the updated notebooks as being “new” to the store. As of Monday morning, the iPhone 4S was still listed as Apple’s newest product.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve ordered a new MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Catcher to invest $2-3 million to reopen Chinese MacBook unibody case plant within November time frame

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 21st, 2011, 06:05
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

After local officials ordered the suspension of operations at a Suzhou, China factory that supplies Apple with chassis for its laptops, Taiwanese manufacturer Catcher Technology will invest US$2-3 million with the goal of getting its facility back online in November.

Per DigiTimes, details emerged that Catcher had temporarily closed a plant that provides 60 percent of Apple’s unibody enclosures for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air product lines, as well as the iMac all-in-one desktop. The company is reportedly spending to “modify equipment and manufacturing processes” to resolve complaints from nearby residents regarding “odorous gas emissions.”

“Catcher aims to resume operations at the plant in November,” the publication noted. The manufacturer’s president, Allen Horng, had previously said that total shipments would fall 20 percent in October and could drop by as much as 40 percent in November if the local government refuses to allow the plant to resume production.

“Shipments to our customers will inevitably be affected,” he said in a press conference Monday. “We already asked them to make adjustments to their (casings) procurement.”

According to the report, Catcher is now considering increasing its investment in Taiwan in order to diversify operations and reduce its operating risk. The manufacturer recently ratcheted up production at a plant in southern Taiwan and purchased a new lot for further expansion in the area.

Catcher’s production woes could restrict an already limited supply chain for metal chassis. In August, it was reported that laptop makers looking to build machines to Intel’s “Ultrabook” specifications were having trouble securing production capacity for unibody magnesium-aluminum chassis. Foxconn and Catcher reportedly have a combined total of 10,000 CNC lathes required for the process, with most of their supply going to Apple.

During Apple’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook said that the company is “investigating and assessing” the potential shortage of Mac unibody casings. In the most recent September quarter, Apple had its best quarter ever for Mac sales, selling 4.89 million during the period. Portables now represent 74 percent of the company’s sales.

In 2008, Apple detailed the new unibody manufacturing process, calling the design “in many ways more beautiful internally than externally.”

Apple is expected to release a modest update to its MacBook Pro line later this month. The laptops will likely receive a speed bump to tide them over until Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips are ready next year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

“Strange odor” at manufacturing plant could lead to reduced Mac notebook shipments in November

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011, 04:32
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News

el17.jpg

Come to think of it, metal housings ARE sort of important on your Mac notebook…

According to the Financial Times, a Chinese factory responsible for manufacturing the metal housings for Apple’s uni-body laptop lineup has been shutdown due to “strange odors” emanating from the plant, potentially causing a 40% decrease in shipments for November.

Catcher Technology, a Taiwanese company with factories in Eastern China, was ordered on Sunday to shutdown a factory that produces 60% of Apple’s uni-body enclosures for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines. The plant also produces casings for Apple’s iMac and products for other notebook makers such as Acer, Dell, Lenovo and Sony.

The president of Catcher Technology, Allen Horng, reported that total shipments would fall 20% in October, adding that November could see a 40% drop if the local government doesn’t clear the plant for operation by the end of the month.

“Shipments to our customers will inevitably be affected,” Horng said in a press conference Monday. “We already asked them to make adjustments to their (casings) procurement.”

It is unclear whether the plant shutdown will affect shipments of a rumored MacBook Pro refresh, expected to be announced later this month. Notebooks accounted for a majority of Apple’s Mac sales in the quarter ending in June.

Analysts expect another record breaking quarter, bolstered by strengthened MacBook Air sales, when the company announces its quarterly earnings on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mint Digital Foundry Team converts MacBook Pro parts into portrait of Steve Jobs

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 7th, 2011, 06:24
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures

This is weird.

But also kind of beautiful.

Per Gizmodo, the Foundry Team over at Mint Digital disassembled a MacBook Pro and converted it into a portrait of Steve Jobs (full size image available here).

This may not be the way Steve Jobs thought he’d be memorialized, but it is amazing.



Take a gander and if you have any cool Steve Jobs stories of your own that you’d like to share, please send us an e-mail and we’ll have the best ones up on Monday.

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

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

applelogo_silver

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.