Apple Releases Firmware Updates for MacBook, MacBook Pro

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Date: Wednesday, December 9th, 2009, 07:36
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.4 for its MacBook notebook. The update, a 3.1 megabyte download, eliminates the noise made by the optical disk drive during system startup and wake from sleep on MacBook computers.

The company also released its MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.8 for some MacBook Pro models. The update, a 3.4 megabyte download, also eliminates the noise made by the optical drive during startup and emerging from sleep.

Both updates can be snagged via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later to install and run.

Tales of Getting a MacBook Pro Battery Replaced

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Date: Thursday, December 3rd, 2009, 07:29
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, Opinion

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Blogger David Alison describes a process many of you have been through: going to an Apple Store with a nigh-dead MacBook Pro battery here and the details therein.

The piece also links to Apple’s terms as to which batteries are covered under an AppleCare plan, the company’s page on battery care and how to do a battery calibration via an Apple Knowledge Base article.

It’s a useful read, so give it a gander and if you have any MacBook Pro battery replacement stories of your own, please let us know.

Apple Launches U.S. Black Friday Sale, Modest Discounts Seen

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Date: Friday, November 27th, 2009, 08:27
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

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Black Friday is upon us and while the sales aren’t extraordinary, there’s a couple bucks to be saved if you know where to look. Per CNET, the latest updates are as follows:

- Apple’s U.S. Black Friday sale is up, and while not spectacular, there are some rare discounts to be found. To go back to the same examples we used for the UK and Australian Apple stores, the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro is US$1,098, down from US$1,199.

All MacBook Pro models are exactly US$101 off, while the US$999 white MacBook is not discounted at all. The 32GB iPod Touch is currently US$268, down from US$299.

This sale is good online and in Apple’s retail stores and runs until 3 AM EST on Saturday, November 28th.

If you see any killer sales in your area (up to and including someone selling MacBook notebooks from the back of a van near the highway), please let us know.

Some MacBook, MacBook Pro Users Report Overheating Under Snow Leopard

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Date: Wednesday, November 4th, 2009, 04:30
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro

A number of MacBook and MacBook Pro users are reporting that their systems running inordinately hot after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, causing their fans to work exceptionally loud. According to CNET, users in this thread on the Apple Support Discussions forums focus the issue primarily on MacBook Pros, though some scattered entries from MacBook owners suggest the issues may be noticed in many of Apple’s notebooks.

Users’ machines tend to run extremely hot, causing the fans to cycle at a high rate and deplete battery power at an accelerated clip. ASD forum user “Ryan83″ reports:

“Fans running constantly at 6000 RPM without any program running – - just letting it idle or running solely iTunes. iPhoto 09 unusable – - when you edit in full screen – - the screen shows colored artifacts all over. Internet has been very spotty and misbehaves.”

Similar symptoms are reported by many of the thread contributors. Typically, CPU usage will spike when users do media-heavy actions with their systems, such as editing photos with Photoshop, cutting movies with Final Cut Pro, or watching media online at sites like YouTube or Hulu. Some users suggest that it could be a hardware issue with the actual fans, though this is unlikely (at least at first). Because most users report the problem after their upgrade to Snow Leopard, chances are it is a software issue. If left unattended, the problem could eventually lead to the fans, logic board, or other hardware becoming corrupt.

Some things to check :
- Be sure all your programs are Snow Leopard compatible. Several users reported that updating the notification utility, Growl, to the Snow Leopard ready version, 1.2, solved their overheating issues. Users should open Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities) and take a look at any background processes that may be running. If any of those programs are not Snow Leopard compatible, they could be causing the excessive CPU usage and heat production.

- When in doubt, especially if you are under AppleCare, taking your machine to an AppleCare Authorized Technician or an Apple Store is a good idea. You will want to avoid any future damage to your hardware as soon as possible. Keep in mind that a solution may involve reinstalling Snow Leopard. Be sure you have a stable and current backup of all your important data. As we have mentioned in recent articles, the 10.6.2 update for Snow Leopard is expected very soon and includes (based on information from beta releases) a myriad of fixes that may include a solution to the overheating issue. When the update is made available, drop by MacFixIt to get a rundown of all the included fixes.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or found a workaround or fix of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Apple Quietly Drops Prices on MacBook Pro RAM, Processor Upgrades

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Date: Tuesday, October 27th, 2009, 04:03
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Amidst Apple’s release of new hardware last week, the company apparently also quietly dropped the prices of additional RAM and processor upgrades on its MacBook Pro line. Per AppleInsider, Apple’s Australian online store, as of Monday, had cut prices on MacBook Pros by up to $700 AUD. The 17″ model, which previously sold for $3,999 AUD is now $3,299 AUD.

Take a look around and if you see any other price reductions, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Upcoming MacBook Pro Notebooks Could Receive Quad-Core Processors

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Date: Tuesday, October 27th, 2009, 04:43
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Following up on yesterday’s piece regarding references to upcoming MacBook Pro notebooks discovered in the most recent developer build of Mac OS X 10.6.2, the cats at 9to5Mac have noted that Apple Store geniuses are starting to work with the new Core i5 and i7 Quad-Core processors that may make their way into the notebooks.

While nothing is definite, it’s looking like the release of OS X 10.6.2 and the refresh of the MacBook Pro might come in tandem, sooner than we think and have something fairly interesting to offer along the way.

Current Mac OS X 10.6.2 Seed Refers to Unreleased MacBook Pro Notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 26th, 2009, 04:58
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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The latest beta seed build of Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.6.2 update references a slew of new Apple notebooks. Per Spanish web site applesfera.com, entries exist in the 10C531 build that make references to “MacBook Pro 6,1″ and MacBook Pro 6,2,” neither of which exists in the market. The current MacBook Pro notebooks range between 5,1 and 5,5.

The move from 5 to 6 in the naming scheme points to these being significant revisions rather than minor refreshes. Both may be signs of early preparation for MacBook Pro portables unofficially expected at the start of 2010. Apple is likely to be one of the earliest adopters of Intel’s upcoming Arrandale processors, which in January should bring the Core i5/i7 architecture to more power-efficient dual-core chips that would fit in a thin-and-light notebook’s enclosure and require a new underlying platform.

If you’ve heard anything from your end or have any ideas as to what to expect, let us know in the comments.

Current Version of Boot Camp Will Lack Support for Windows 7 on Some 2006 Mac Models

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Date: Friday, October 23rd, 2009, 03:24
Category: iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Software

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In a recent memo to retail partners, Apple has announced that it will deliver support for Windows 7 in Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s Boot Camp utility by the end of the year via a software update, but exclude support for some Macs sold in 2006. Per AppleInsider, the drivers provide native support for Mac-specific hardware under Windows, such as a backlit keyboard, built-in iSight camera, trackpad, Bluetooth, graphics, networking, audio, and so on. Snow Leopard’s Boot Camp 3.0 also installs read-only HFS+ support for viewing Mac volumes under Windows.

According to the announcement, a series of Mac models “will not be supported for use with Windows 7 using Boot Camp,” specifically:

- iMac (17″, Early 2006)

- iMac (17″, Late 2006)

- iMac (20″, Early 2006)

- iMac (20″, Late 2006)

- MacBook Pro (15″, Early 2006)

- MacBook Pro (17″, Late 2006)

- MacBook Pro (15″, Late 2006)

- MacBook Pro (17″, Early 2006)

- Mac Pro (Mid 2006, Intel Xeon Dual-core 2.66GHz or 3GHz)

The reason for not officially supporting these models has not yet been officially stated. Because of how Boot Camp works, the only reason specific Mac models would not be supported is because compatible drivers are not available. This would not prevent Windows 7 from being installed on these machines, but could result in certain devices not working as expected while running Windows.

Third party drivers for the unsupported devices (if they exist) could solve any issues, and Windows 7 may offer to install drivers for devices it recognizes but does not have built in support for; it may even identify and download the drivers automatically.

Of the unsupported machines in the supplied list, the Early 2006 iMacs and MacBook Pro models have 32-bit Core Duo CPUs, but the other models specified feature 64-bit Core 2 Duos or Xeon processors, and no other 32-bit Macs (MacBooks, mini) are excluded. Apple has yet to release any comments about providing support for the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 only, so the support issue does not appear to have anything to do with these models’ CPU or firmware.

The only other common thread between these machines is that they all originally shipped with either no or disabled support for 802.11n wireless networking. However, late 2006 MacBooks also shipped with disabled support for 802.11n, and no Mac minis supported 802.11n until 2009, so this does not appear to be a factor either.

Apple is expected to clarify the issue when it releases the Windows 7 driver update for Boot Camp users.

RadTech Announces ClearCal Anti-Glare Sheets for iMac, MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 7th, 2009, 07:05
Category: Accessory, iMac, MacBook Pro

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Accessory provider RadTech announced the immediate availability of its ClearCal anti-glare film sheets for the 17-inch MacBook Pro and 20-inch iMac on Wednesday. Per The Mac Observer, In addition to cutting glare from Apple’s glossy displays, the film sheets also help reduce the visibility of fingerprints and streaks.

ClearCal sheets are reusable and can be cleaned with water.

The sheets’ sizes are available for the 13″, 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pro, along with the 20″ and 24″ iMac and the 24″ LED Cinema Display. Pricing starts at US$19.95.

Boot Camp Sound Bug Found for 13″ and 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro Notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, September 8th, 2009, 04:11
Category: MacBook Pro, Software

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A number of owners of Apple’s latest 13″ and 15″ unibody MacBook Pro notebooks have reported speaker failures when running Windows via Boot Camp according to an article on MacNN. The problems have affected many gamers who use Mac OS X for daily computing, then switch to Windows to play games. The problem appears to have begun with Boot Camp v2.1, which was launched in June. The recent Boot Camp 3.0 release, designed for Snow Leopard, does not seem to have helped resolve the issue.

Per testimonies on the Apple Discussion Forums, the latest 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros exhibit the issue with Windows XP, Server 2008 x64, Vista x32 and x64, and Windows 7 RC x32 and x64. Users have complained of very low sound volumes from the built-in speakers, even at full volume, along with a red light emanating from the speaker jack. Several systems are also unable to recognize microphone input. Although the specific source of the problems remains unknown, user reports suggest the Cirrus Logic CS4206A sound driver could be the culprit.

Forum posters (starting on page 10 of the forum) have posted workarounds that outline a user-hacked replacement for the Cirrus drivers which requires command-line work in Windows to resolve the issue. Frustrations have run high in the forums and the 270+ posts have not yet received any comments or help from Apple representatives in the three months the issue has been commented on.

Failure to address the issue in Snow Leopard’s Boot Camp 3.0 revision has also caused negative sentiment from posters, some of whom describe themselves as first-time Mac buyers who bought the new notebooks expressly because of Boot Camp support for their Windows games.

If you’ve seen this bug on your end or discovered your own fix or workaround, please let us know.