Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update 1.1 for 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro users

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:53
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

Never doubt a good firmware update.

Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook Pro Retina SMC Update 1.1 firmware update for its 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 504 kilobyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
- Resolves a rare issue where users may experience slow frame rates when playing graphics-intensive games.

- Includes bug fixes for Power Nap, wake from sleep and fan control.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via OS X’s Software Update features and requires a 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

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

Some 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina users report fan issues, SanDisk SSDs could be part of problem

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 11th, 2013, 07:29
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Well, God invented firmware fixes for situations like these…

Per Geek.com, a number of complaints has emanated from owners of Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro regarding overactive fans. The issue has been noted in our forums and is the subject of a lengthy thread in Apple’s discussion forums. From one report:

“My first instance of runaway fans was under the lightest of conditions, having only one browser open only a few tabs and a cool computer. The fact it was cold is what is so alarming. Out of nowhere the fans spun up to a roar, stayed there for a few minutes, then decelerated back down to idle. Every so often this happens, usually daily, and it’s horribly annoying on a high quality well engineered computer.
From the list of reports flowing in, users suspect that Apple’s recent shift to using SanDisk solid-state drives in the Retina MacBook Pro may have something to do with the issue, although it is likely a software issue rather than a hardware one.”

Apple support staff have offered mixed responses to the issue, with some customers receiving replacement machines while others have been assured that the behavior is normal. If the issue is indeed a software one as is suspected, Apple should be able to fix it relatively easily with an update pushed out to owners of the affected machines, but it is unclear whether Apple is working on a fix at this time.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Canadian thieves rob Vancouver-area Apple Store location using bear spray as weapon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, 08:15
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

If you’re going to steal thousands of dollars worth of Apple products north of the border, remember to bring along bear spray.


bear-attack-bear-spray

Per the National Post, thieves armed with bear spray hit the Oakridge Mall Apple Store in Vancouver just before closing in Monday, spraying roughly 40 people and making off with an unknown number of iPods, iPads, and notebooks.

The robbery, which saw three men bearing a caustic, cayenne pepper-based chemical attack the Apple Store. There were roughly 40 customers in the store, of which five would later need treatment by paramedics for exposure to the spray. The robbers are said to have fled by car.

Most of the valuable Apple electronics are likely to have been out of reach of the robbers, as Apple Stores keep most stock in hidden storage rooms behind closed doors. Vancouver police say that the thieves made off with only “a small number of electronics.”

Rumor: Apple could launch 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air in third quarter

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

The Retina display…it will expand to new models.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Per Macotakara, Apple is apparently in the process of preparing suppliers for the launch of a Retina MacBook Air in Q3 of 2013. The report appears to claim that both 11 and 13-inch of the MacBook Air will launch with Retina displays in addition to an upgrade from Intel’s new Haswell platform. Apple supplier Quanta is expected to begin receiving shipments of the new components in the second quarter.

The report goes again recent reports from analysts predicting a next-gen MacBook Air would land in Q2 or Q3 without a Retina display. We heard last year that Apple was working on MacBook Airs with Retina displays but sources indicated the power drawn from the Retina Displays combined with the thin and light form-factor of the MacBook Air may pose challenges for Apple and its product manufacturers.

It’s unclear what this would mean for Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Air notebooks. If today’s report is true, it’s always possible Apple could keep a non-Retina model of the Air around like it did following the launch of the Retina MacBook Pro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts updated specs, reduced prices for Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 13th, 2013, 07:45
Category: MacBook Pro, News

It never hurts to wait a bit.

Per AppleInsider, Apple said Wednesday that it’s making the MacBook Pro with Retina display faster and more affordable with updated processors and lower starting prices, starting at US$1,499 rather than US$1,699.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now starts at US$1,499 for 128GB of flash, and $1,699 for a new 2.6 GHz processor and 256GB of flash. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now also features a faster 2.4 GHz quad-core processor, while the top-of-the-line 15-inch notebook comes with a new 2.7 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of memory.

Apple today also announced that the 13-inch MacBook Air with 256GB of flash has a new lower price of US$1,399.

The revised units are available over on the Apple Store and immediately available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release all-Retina iPad, MacBook Pro lineups in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013, 08:09
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, MacBook Pro, Rumor

Even though it’s a rumor, there’s got to be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has made his Apple hardware predictions for the upcoming year, and expects a bevy of new iOS and Mac product releases will help the iPhone maker address a wider swath of the market

Kuo, who has seen previous success in predicting future Apple products, says the company will introduce a number of new iOS devices in 2013, including an inexpensive iPhone 5, upgraded iPhone 5S, Retina display-toting second-gen iPad mini and a redesigned fifth-generation iPad, among others. He goes on to say that Apple will retire the non-Retina MacBook Pro line and replace it with an all-Retina lineup at a lower price.

Kuo is quick to note that none of the product forecasts are expected in the first quarter of 2013 and says “many” will be introduced in the second half of the year.

According to the analyst, Apple will release both an iPhone 5S with updated internals as well as an inexpensive version of the current iPhone 5 design with a thicker plastic chassis available in six colors. The iPhone 5S, which Kuo believes will launch sometime in June or July, will have largely the same aesthetic as the existing model, but will boast a built-in fingerprint sensor, improved camera and more powerful A7 SoC. A slightly revamped “new design” iPhone 5 is expected to go on sale as a less-expensive alternative to Apple’s flagship handset at around the same time, with the affordable price tag attributed to a plastic exterior that will be available in multiple colorways.

Kuo believes a new fifth-generation 9.7-inch iPad will launch with lighter frame and a more refined look, borrowing the narrow bezels seen on the iPad mini. In turn, the smaller tablet will move to generation two and get a Retina display that sports the same 2,048-by-1,536 pixel screen resolution as the existing full-size iPad. By using an identical resolution, app makers won’t have to make software changes to fit a new native format. The same thinking was used when the iPad mini was released with a resolution identical to the iPad 2.

As for Apple’s MacBook, the analyst sees an end of life for non-Retina MacBook Pros, which will be replaced by an all-Retina lineup that eschews optical drives. Pricing should be reduced to help move units. The MacBook Air will see little change besides a bump in internal specs as sizing down the high-resolution Retina display is seen as too steep a challenge at this time. Because the Air will not see a significant design change, the tweaked models are expected to arrive earlier in the year, with the all-Retina MacBook Pro line coming in quarter three.

In respect to the iPod product line, Kuo isn’t expecting much in the way of revolutionary changes. With the fifth-gen iPod touch released, Apple will likely introduce a cheaper variant of the current design without a camera and less built-in memory to reach a target price of US$199.

Finally, 2013 is expected to be the last year in which the Apple TV is considered a “hobby,” but Kuo doesn’t believe the company will introduce a full-fledged television set in the next 12 months. The existing media streamer is likely to morph into a serious business — possibly a full-fledged HDTV — in 2014, as Apple already has the infrastructure to support such a device with iTunes, the App Store and iCloud services. What the company lacks, however, is experience in the industry, especially concerning the establishment of a reliable supply chain. Kuo looks to the much-rumored “iTV” as a source of growth in the coming years.

Workaround discovered for poor graphics performance/frame rates on 15-inch MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 08:54
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

In as much as you love your 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook, there are times where things aren’t always perfect. Per CNET, some Mac users are finding that some of the latest MacBook systems from Apple are sometimes showing drastic drops in graphics performance, which are particularly notable when playing graphically intensive applications like video games.

The issue seems to be that while at first launching the game will show the expected smooth performance, it may suddenly drop to a very low frame rate and be essentially unplayable. Usually when systems drop to low frame rates it suggests they are being overworked for some reason and are struggling to make the computations necessary for smooth gameplay, and as a result will usually be relatively hot as the graphics card is taxed; however, in these systems this is not the case and in testing some users have noticed that various monitoring tools show the system at a relatively idle state, suggesting the system is not being taxed much and instead is just not performing the computations at hand.

Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro systems ship with two graphics cards (a discrete Nvidia Geforce GT 650M for graphics intensive operations and an on-board Intel HD 4000 GPU for standard everyday tasks), which it switches between dynamically to get optimal energy savings and increase battery life. However, it appears that the problem at hand is with how the system is handling this switching behavior, where it will switch back to using the lower power Intel graphics and therefore not be able to manage the demands of fancier games.

The mighty Topher Kessler has listed how to reset the SMC and thus regain some of your graphics frame rate via the following steps:

- Shut down the computer.

- Plug in the MagSafe power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.

- On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.

- Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.

- Press the power button to turn on the computer.

After these steps have been performed, the system should perform as expected with graphics-intensive applications.

If you’ve tried this fix with your 15-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to update notebooks in June, retain same design with new models

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 28th, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

Rumor: Apple to update notebooks in June, retain same design with new models

Sometimes you just don’t muck with a good design.

Per DigiTimes, Apple will reportedly update the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air product lines in June 2013 with upgraded innards, but no major design changes are expected for either laptop range.

According to the article, Taiwanese supply chain sources said Apple recently issued requests for quotations (RFQs) for a number of notebooks, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, with the new models slated to reach consumers in June 2013.

Little information was offered regarding the revised MacBook Pro as the publication focused its report on the effect Apple’s MacBook Air will have on so-called Ultrabook makers next year. For 2013, Apple’s thin-and-light is said to be switching to a new processor platform, most likely Intel’s next-generation Haswell architecture.

As for design, sources say no major changes are planned for either product line. While the MacBook Pro line was the recipient of a design overhaul with the Retina display model, non-Retina versions still sport a unibody chassis largely unaltered since its debut in 2008. The MacBook Air’s enclosure was revamped in 2010, taking on a more angular look as Apple applied design cues learned from its development of the iPad.

DigiTimes also suggests Apple may cut MacBook Air prices ahead of the June launch, but such a move is unlikely considering the company has no recent history of discounting products prior to a newer version’s release. The publication made similar claims in May when it incorrectly predicted that Apple would introduce a US$799 version of the notebook in the third quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patents point to effort to reduce noise on MacBook Pro fan modules

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 20th, 2012, 09:02
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

You know the fans on your MacBook Pro?

They’re about to get quieter.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trio of patent applications discovered on Thursday reveal how the asymmetric fan blade spacing used in the newest MacBook Pro with Retina display models quiet the spinning impeller without sacrificing performance.

The three patent applications, all titled “Centrifugal blower with asymmetric blade spacing” and numbered sequentially (1, 2, 3) cover separate fan designs that feature asymmetrically aligned fan blades, two with 31 blades and one with 61 blades.

Apple first introduced its asymmetric fan design in June with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a subsequent teardown revealed that the laptop uses a 31-blade unit.

Typical fans incorporate a prime number of blades that are spaced at angles equidistant to each other, an industry standard aimed at reducing unwanted sound. At issue is the blade pass frequency (BPF) which produces harmonics from the pressure wave formed at the tip of each blade. The most noticeable source of noise is the pole pass frequency (PPF) tone, or the “vibration and resulting pressure waves created by the poles in the motor of the fan.”

Apple’s design calls for variably-angled blades that controls the spectral distribution of tones created by the fan. First-hand tests have found the new design to not necessarily quiet fan noise as much as create a less grating sound.

From the patent:
“Dispersing the energy of a tone over a number of discrete frequencies can make the tone seem less noisy to the listener by reducing the perception on the tonal BPF [blade pass frequency]. Spacing fan blades unevenly, while maintaining impeller balance, is one method of controlling pure-tone effects.”

According to the invention, the rearrangement of the fan blade angles cancels some of the noise usually heard in conventional portable computers but allows for the unit to still be balanced as the center of mass is located at the shaft of the impeller. The modified design also allows for the fan system to be smaller, thus permitting a thinner laptop as seen with the Retina MacBook Pros.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.1 firmware for late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 08:28
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

You might want to snag this.

Late Monday, Apple released its MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.1 firmware update for the late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 5 megabyte download, improves sleep performance, enhances Thunderbolt router support, fixes an HDMI display issue, and improves compatibility when using the 5GHz band in Wi-Fi.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via OS X’s Software Update features and requires a late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro running OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run.

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