O'Grady's PowerPage » MacBook

Apple patents describe possible convertible tablet, next-gen MagSafe power/optical connector

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, 05:46
Category: iPad, MacBook, Patents

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A pair of patents that went public on Tuesday reveal that Apple could be working on a device that converts from standard laptop form to tablet form as well as a magnetic connector that provides both power and an optical data connection.

Per freepatentsonline, a November 30 patent entitled “Application Programming Interfaces for Scrolling Operations” has surfaced, the patent depicting an Apple notebook that slides into tablet form as an example of a device that would take advantage of the patent’s scrolling operations.

The drawings first show a laptop with a traditional keyboard, body, display frame and display. Then, according to the patent, “the laptop device can be converted into a tablet device” by sliding the display across the keyboard.

Since the patent relates to scrolling operations, it would presumably not cover the convertible laptop to tablet form factor. Apple does, however, disclaim in the application that the patent contains “specific exemplary embodiments.”

“It will be evident that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative sense rather than a restrictive sense,” reads the patent.

In its recent revision. to the MacBook Air line, Apple took features from the iPad, such as “solid state storage, instant-on, amazing battery standby time, miniaturization and lightweight construction.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the ultra-thin laptop’s unveiling that he and his company had asked themselves, “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” With both a touchscreen and a keyboard, laptop and tablet configurations, these figures from the scrolling operations patent reveal the possibility of an even closer integration between the two products.

In another patent awarded Tuesday, Apple seeks to reduce the number of cables connected to a laptop device to a single connector that would provide both a power and data connection.

One drawing of the invention depicts what appears to be a MagSafe-like connector attached to a “power and data adapter” with optical, USB, Ethernet, and DVI ports. The adapter would function as both a power brick and a port hub.

Another drawing features a MagSafe connector that splits off into a fiber optic cable with a data adapter and a DC power cable with a power transformer.

The patent could be a first look at Apple’s planned implementation of Intel’s Light Peak optical cable technology. Intel is reportedly readying Light Peak for an early 2011 release, and Apple is expected to quickly incorporate the technology into its Mac line of computers.

Intel claims Light Peak has a bandwidth of 10Gbps and will scale up to 100Gbps over the next decade. “Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible,” states Intel on its website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on the patents, please let us know.

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

Posted by:
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.

Apple announces “Back to the Mac” media event for October 20th

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 14th, 2010, 05:41
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Rumor, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple announced that the company will hold a special media event next Wednesday to reveal its latest offerings in the Mac space, which may include new MacBook Airs, a preview of Mac OS X 10.7, and an unveiling of iLife and iWork ’11.

Per AppleInsider, the event is set to begin at 10:00 am Pacific time on Wednesday, October 20th in the Town Hall on Apple’s Cupertino Campus.

MacBook Air:
Persistent rumors out of the Far East have suggested Apple is gearing up to overhaul the MacBook Air line with a newly designed 11.6″ display, creating a more aggressively priced notebook for students and the business traveler. Those reports claim that Apple plans to ship around a half-million units before the end of the 2010 calendar year. The current MacBook Air sports a larger 13.3″ display.

Rumors of a MacBook Air with an 11.6: display first cropped up in July. It was said the redesigned hardware will be even slimmer and lighter, and will be powered by an Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

There’s also been a mixture of chatter regarding a much cheaper, thinner 11.6″ Apple notebook that would weigh as little as 2.7 pounds due to the possibility of new carbon fiber unibody construction.

iLife and iWork:
In addition to the introduction of a new MacBook Air, Apple’s iLife suite of digital lifestyle applications and its iWork suite of productivity software are also due for a revamp. The last update to both offers came in January of 2009.

At least one recent discovery has suggested that a iLife ’11 refresh will be written entirely in 64-bit code, will include a rewritten iWeb, and will drop the iDVD application. It has also been suggested that the software will be launched for iOS devices, like the iPhone and iPad.

Mac OS X 10.7:
Meanwhile, a copy of Apple’s official invitation for next week’s event appears to show a lion peering out from behind the company’s iconic logo.

This appears to suggest that Apple may provide the first preview of its next-generation Mac OS X 10.7 operating system given that all of its predecessors have been nicknamed after large felines.

Distributions of Mac OS X 10.7 have been making the rounds inside Apple under the internal code-name “Barolo” (named after the prestigious Italian wines from the Piedmont region) since early 2010, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Those same people have said that Apple initially hoped to preview the software during this past June’s Worldwide Developers Conference but was forced to relinquish those plans when it was forced to pull resources off the project temporarily to help finalize iOS 4.0 in time for the summer’s iPhone 4 launch.

Other possibilities for the event include possible processor and graphics speed bumps for the MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. For example, both the 13″ MacBook and MacBook Pro still lack Intel’s latest generation of Core i3 microprocessors.

If you have any thoughts on what the new announcements will bring, let us know and stay tuned for continued coverage of the event!

Apple releases MacBook SMC Firmware Updater 1.4 for older MacBook, MacBook Pro notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 03:04
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook SMC Firmware Updater 1.4 for older MacBook and MacBook Pro models solves a charging issue that takes place when using the latest MagSafe power adapters.

The update, an 880 kilobyte download, requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or 10.6.4 to install and run.

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

Older MacBook hacked into touch screen-equipped tablet

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, October 5th, 2010, 04:32
Category: Hack, MacBook

It’s been done before via Axiotron’s Modbook, but it’s being done cheaper.

Per PC World, older MacBook owner Matt of Enigma Penguin took it upon himself to convert the MacBook into a touch-based tablet with interesting results.

After taking the MacBook apart and removing non-functional hardware, Matt ordered a third party touch screen. Once it arrived, he removed the MacBook’s original display and cut the lid to accommodate the touch screen. After fiddling with drivers and other finalities, he’s got thing thing up and running (as mentioned in his blog). The device also uses Ink, the Mac OS X input alternative.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, take a gander at the video:



As always, feel free to hurl in your comments and let us know what you make of this.

Philadelphia school district avoids spying charges in 2009 MacBook case

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 05:05
Category: MacBook, News

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Per the Associated Press, a Philadelphia school district has avoided charges from federal prosecutors following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the MacBook spying case. US Attorney David Memeger claims investigators could not find any evidence of criminal intent by school employees.

Following up on a controversy from last year, the school district admitted to retaining thousands of screenshots from MacBook webcams provided to students. The images were reportedly used to help recover missing laptops, although several employees referred to the pictures as a “soap opera.” The tracking system was also said to have been activated on a number of occasions after the computers were recovered.

Although prosecutors declined to file charges, the school district was sued by a student and his family over invasion of privacy. The lawsuit has yet to be settled outside of court.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Magic Trackpad and Multi-Touch Trackpad Update 1.0, adds gesture support to some additional notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 28th, 2010, 06:48
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Apple on Tuesday issued an update to a number of recent notebooks, including the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, bringing inertial scrolling and three-finger drag gesture support to some trackpads.

Per AppleInsider, the Magic Trackpad and Multi-Touch Trackpad Update 1.0 was released Tuesday afternoon by Apple. The file is a 75.09MB update that requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 to install and run. In addition to adding inertial scrolling and three-finger drag in recent MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks, it also adds support for Apple’s newly released US$69 Magic Trackpad.

Per Apple, the following MacBook and MacBook Pro models now have both inertial scrolling and three-finger drag gesture:

MacBook (13-inch, Early 2009)
MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009)
MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008)

MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53 GHz, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)

Inertial scrolling, but not the three-finger gesture, is offered in four additional models:

MacBook Air
MacBook Air (Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008)

The new three-finger gesture was first discovered earlier Tuesday with hands-on tests of the Magic Trackpad. The capability allows users to quickly drag windows around. At the time, the feature was exclusive to the new hardware.

If you’ve tried the file and can offer any feedback, please let us know

OWC releases Slim ExpressCard/34 peripheral for MacBook notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 04:54
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Pro

Peripherals maker OWC has released a new eSATA ExpressCard adapter for MacBooks. The card, which is rated for 3GB/s, is hot swappable and ACHI compliant, requiring no drivers for any Mac notebook running Mac OS X 10.5 or higher.

Per MacNN, the card is said to be capable of 170MB/s read speeds and 120MB/s write speeds using external SSD-based eSATA drives and supports up to five disk drives on a JMicron JMB360 chipset. The ExpressCard is bootable for MacBooks with any Core 2 Duo chips, which cover all but the first generation.



The new eSATA ExpressCard requires Mac OS X 10.4 to install and run, with Mac OS X 10.5 or later required for hot-swapping. It also supports Windows 2000 and higher, including Windows 7. The card retails for US$40 but is currently on sale for US$33.

How-To: Work around Apple notebook blank screens

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 4th, 2010, 09:59
Category: How-To, MacBook, MacBook Pro

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As trusty and reliable as your MacBook or MacBook Pro may be, there are times where it will hate you and its screen will go blank. Sometimes this will take place as you’re working, other times after a restart or when waking up from sleep. The cool cats at CNET have assembled the following useful guide as to what may be the underlying concern and how to fix it:

Software issues:
The display going out could be a matter of a software configuration problem, either with the display drivers or with one of the active processes that interacts with them, such as the window server. There are a few ways you can overcome this. The first is to change the display configuration by either plugging in or unplugging an external monitor. This will cause the drivers to refresh the display output and desktop configuration; hopefully, this will reset the error. The second way is to try sleeping the system again by closing the lid and opening it. When you close the lid, you should see the battery and sleep indicator lights (green and white, respectively) turn on.

You can also use a key sequence to force the display to sleep and reset, which, hopefully, will force the display to reset properly and turn on. To do this, press and hold the Control and Shift keys, followed by the Eject key.

Lastly, if the display will not work even after rebooting, try loading into Safe Mode, especially if the display turns off after properly showing an initial gray screen. If safe mode works, you will need to troubleshoot the software setup by first uninstalling any recently installed drivers or utilities, and then by creating a new user account for testing purposes, since sometimes display problems can happen from an account-specific configuration problem. This will tell you if the problem is account-related or has to do with more global resources. If the problem persists in a new account, the next best step would be to boot off your Mac OS X installation DVD to see if the display works under a completely bare and fresh installation.

If the installation DVD works, then you will need to reinstall your OS by first reapplying the latest “Combo” update for your version of OS X (this is best applied when in Safe Mode), and then by run the installer from your OS X DVD and ensure that you have “Archive and Install” selected with the option to save user accounts and data (this is done by default in Snow Leopard).

If the display problems occur when booting from the installation DVD, it is likely you are suffering from a hardware malfunction and will need to troubleshoot the hardware setup.

Hardware issues:
Hardware issues that can affect the display output include firmware settings as well as the display hardware and controllers themselves. Many people have tried to reset the PRAM when they have issues such as the screen being blank when the computer is woken from sleep; however, many display settings are stored in the System Management Controller. Therefore, in addition to resetting the PRAM you may benefit from resetting the SMC on your machine. On most MacBooks you can do this by removing the power and battery, and pressing the power button for 15 seconds, but some models vary so look up how to do this for your particular machine.

Beyond firmware settings, you may have a problem with the display inverter or LED driver board, which is what runs the backlight on LDC displays. When this happens, the display should still be working, but will not be easily visible because of the lack of lighting. You can test this by shining a flashlight on the display at different angles, or preferably through the Apple logo on the back of the display. If you see graphics showing on the display, then your backlight is not working. If a restart or SMC/PRAM reset do not help, you will need to take the computer in for servicing.

Lastly, if you have recently had the computer serviced (especially if done by yourself), some of the display-related circuits may have been improperly connected or insulated upon assembly. Apple has foam and plastic insulation around circuits and connectors that can be shorted out by touching other components, so if you forget to put these back on when assembling the system, you can easily cause a component like the inverter to fail. Luckily this usually can be fixed by replacing the insulation, but you will need to have it serviced again to fix.

Work-arounds:
If you are unable to get your display working, you can still control your system in an attempt to save your work and safely shut it down. One way is to use Screen Sharing, which you may have enabled in the Sharing system preferences. You can then use Remote Desktop or Apple’s built-in Screen Sharing service to connect to and control your Mac.

Alternatively, if you have Remote Login enabled (SSH), you can use an SSH client on any other networked computer to log in and issue the “shutdown -h now” command to close down and turn off the computer. This will take familiarity with the Terminal, as well as knowing its IP address (unless you are on a Mac).

Here’s the basic procedure:
Launch the Terminal application with SSH support

Type the following command:
ssh USERNAME@Computer-Name.local

In this command, the username is the short account name on the system, and if you are using a Mac “Computer-Name.local” is the computer’s network name, such as Tophers-Desktop.local; however, it can also be the computer’s IP address.

Confirm connecting and supply your password (it will not be shown)
Issue the shutdown command by typing the following:
sudo shutdown -h now

This process will turn off the system, but will force applications to quit so you will lose unsaved data. However, it still is a better option than pressing and holding the power button to turn off the system.

If you’ve found any fixes or workarounds of your own, please let us know.

Refreshed MacBook dissected, 10-hour battery could be transplanted into older MacBooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 20th, 2010, 04:27
Category: MacBook, News

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You’ve got to love iFixit.

That being said, the firm has performed a complete teardown of Apple’s newest low-end MacBook and noticed that only the central processing unit, the graphical processing unit and the battery have changed since the last hardware iteration.

iFixit has stated that the battery itself is of special interest given that the battery is exactly the same shape as its former and all you have to do to get an extra 350 mAh for your existing plastic MacBook is to drop in a refreshed battery.

While the new cells weigh more and it’s likely the new silicon that’s actually responsible for 10 hours of battery life, but should your Li-ion pack fail under warranty, your older MacBook might be returned with more juice than you’d bargained for.

Kind of a cool thing if you ever dreamt of your older MacBook using a 10 hour battery…