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Apple announces free shipping, free gift wrapping for online orders

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 13:11
Category: News, retail


You can’t argue with Cyber Monday.

Or free shipping.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday announced that all orders for any product placed at its U.S. online store through Dec. 22 will ship for free, while customers in other countries can also receive free shipping for one day only.

The announcement was made on Apple’s online store on Monday, also known as “Cyber Monday,” or the first Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Apple does not have any Cyber Monday deals, though it did participate in Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year, last week.

Apple’s free shipping promotion through Dec. 22 applies only to the U.S., but customers in other countries — including Canada, the U.K., France, and Spain — receive free standard shipping on all orders placed Monday. The free shipping offer in those countries does not extend beyond Monday.

Monday’s free shipping offer does not extend to all other countries. For example, Apple’s official online store in Australia simply advertises that customers can receive free gift wrapping on iPod and iPad purchases through Christmas, on Dec. 25.

Assorted resellers of Apple products also offer Macs and other products at discounted prices with free shipping, including MacMall, MacConnection, B&H, Amazon, Best Buy and DataVision.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked Intel documents present ideas for Thunderbolt-based docking components

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 25th, 2011, 12:39
Category: Hardware, News


This could turn into something nifty.

Per VR-Zone, Intel is hoping to formalize a standard for docking on ultrabooks with Thunderbolt ports, leaked internal notes demonstrate. The implementation would combine the Thunderbolt port with a wider companion dock connector to handle other forms of data, such as Ethernet or USB, VR-Zone said. To keep the Ethernet connection alive for Intel’s vPro remote management or for Windows 8’s Connected Standby mode, however, the docking port would need to have direct access to the Ethernet chipset inside.

Intel also had suggestions for what the dock itself could have, including HDMI or Mini DisplayPort for video out, a USB hub, or even eSATA for fast external drives. Thunderbolt’s support for daisy chaining a total of six Thudnerbolt devices is an option, although it would require the widest bandwidth versions of Thunderbolt and may be rare.

Intel’s strategy would be primarily intended for business, where it’s expected that workers would dock the ultrabook at their desks and get an external display and desktop-like expansion with just one cable. It notably tries to downplay the use of USB 3.0, saying that the standard isn’t ideal for displays or certain kinds of links. Intel might have an economic incentive to discourage USB 3.0, however, since it can profit from its exclusivity on Thunderbolt controller chips where USB 3.0 is generic and won’t see Intel make much if any profit, even when its own hardware is in use.

Apple already has a form of Thunderbolt docking through its Thunderbolt Display and may end up having the superior option for simplicity: its lack of vPro lets it route audio, the display, Ethernet, FireWire, and USB through one cable. Intel’s approach would bring more of that experience to Windows users as well as provide some extras for the pro audience. Non-Mac systems with standard Thunderbolt aren’t due to show until at least early 2012, however, or roughly a year after Apple went first.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Additional Black Friday sales announced, Microsoft and Adobe put forth wares

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 25th, 2011, 05:46
Category: News, retail, Software

It’s Black Friday and there shall be savings.

Per AppleInsider, the shopping holiday has brought an assortment of discounts on essential Mac software, including up to 50% off Adobe’s products, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 for US$69.99, and VMWare Fusion for US$29.99.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011:
The best deals for Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac come from Amazon, MacMall and Buy.com. Amazon is selling Home & Student One Packs and Family Packs for US$50 off retail, US$69.99 and US$99.99, respectively. The site also has the Home & Business One Pack for the low price of US$151.99. Buy.com is selling the Home & Business Multi Pack for US$180.94.

Mac Virtualization Software:
For Mac Virtualization software that lets Macs run the Windows operating system alongside Mac OS, Amazon has the best deal on Parallels Desktop 7 at US$44.99. MacMall has the lowest price for VMWare Fusion 4, selling the software for US$29.99.

Adobe Products:
Adobe is offering as much as 50 percent off on instant downloads of its software through Nov. 29, though individual products may need to be added to the shopping cart for the discounts in the chart below to appear. Creative Suite 5.5 is available to commercial customers with savings of 30 percent on upgrades and 10 percent on full purchases.

The software maker is also providing a discount of US$250 on the full version of Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended and US$150 off the full version of Photoshop CS 5, while those upgrading from an earlier version will save 30 percent. Commercial customers can get 50 percent off the entry-level Elements versions of the Photoshop and Premiere applications, as well as US$100 off Lightroom.

Meanwhile, qualifying education customers can save up to US$1800 on Student and Teacher Editions of Creative Suite from Adobe’s retail partners.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VMWare releases Fusion 4.1.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 17:48
Category: News, Software


On Wednesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 4.1.1 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 180 megabyte download, can be found here and offers the following fix:

– Corrects an omission from the Fusion 4.1.0 release that affects running Mac OS X in a virtual machine. (Removes the ability to use Leopard and Snow Leopard virtual machines.)

Fusion 4.1.1 retails for US$49.99 and requires an Intel-based Mac, 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later (10.7 recommended) and a copy of Windows (if you’ll be installing Windows).

Microsoft looking towards digital delivery system for Windows 8 upgrades/installs

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 14:11
Category: News, Software


You may not be in love with Windows, but it does become handy from time to time.

Per the MSDN blog, Microsoft looks to be gearing up to release its next-generation Windows 8 operating system via digital release. In a post to the company’s official blog this week, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, detailed the setup experience users will see with Windows 8.

Sinofsky explained that Microsoft aims to satisfy two distinct types of customers in the install process: those who want to install with minimum hassle, and those who want to do a clean install with more options, control and customization. Microsoft’s simpler solution will allow users to simply launch a file that can be delivered via the Web, not unlike Apple’s Lion, which is available for purchase and install through the Mac App Store.

“In the past, if you wanted to buy an upgrade for Windows, it involved purchasing a boxed product from a retail outlet, taking it home, (sometimes being infuriated while trying to open the box,) and inserting a DVD,” Sinofsky explained. “However, buying boxed software is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule, with more and more software being purchased online as broadband penetration increases and large-size media downloads become more common.

“While we will continue to offer boxed DVDs, we are also making it easier than ever to purchase and install online. This includes starting the setup experience online as well, and having one continuous integrated experience from beginning to end.”

Microsoft’s Web setup will allow the company to “pre-key” the setup image that is downloaded to a unique user. This means users won’t need to enter the 25-digit product key that is currently necessary to install existing versions of Windows.

Sinofsky stopped short of saying that the Web install method will be the preferred way for users to install Windows 8, though the simplified process will likely make it ideal for most users. Through one application, Microsoft will scan a user’s system for compatibility, download Windows 8, and then install the operating system.

Apple has made it clear that the Mac App Store is the preferred way for users to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, though the company has made Lion also available on a USB thumb drive. But while Lion costs US$29.99 on the Mac App Store, its US$69 price tag when bought on a USB drive is more than double the price of the digital download.

Of course, Microsoft’s digital delivery method for Windows 8 is very different from Apple’s approach, in that Microsoft does not have a centralized software storefront akin to Apple’s Mac App Store. Users will have to load the dedicated Windows 8 Setup application to make the upgrade on their system, while the Mac App Store is available on all up-to-date systems running Apple’s previous-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Beyond digital delivery, Microsoft has made a number of other changes to help simplify and speed up the Windows 8 install process. Through a number of modifications to the upgrade engine, Microsoft says it has reduced a clean install time from 32 minutes for Windows 7 to 21 minutes with Windows 8.

The greatest improvement will be seen for power users who complete a “super upgrade,” which, in Microsoft’s tests, includes 1.44 million files and 120 installed applications. While a Windows 7 upgrade under that scenario would have taken 513 minutes, Windows 8’s advertised upgrade time is just 52 minutes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple specifies discounts for 2011 Black Friday sales

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail


As mentioned yesterday, Apple will be planning assorted discounts for this year’s Black Friday shopping holiday.

Per 9to5Mac, the discounts are in-line with last year’s prices with only modest discounts on their products. Price drops for their core products are as follows:

iPad 2: US$41 to US$61 Off

iPod nano: US$11 off

iPod Touch: US$21 to US$41 off

MacBook Air: US$101 off

MacBook Pro: US$101 off

iMac: US$101 off

Meanwhile, 3rd party accessories are also seeing some small discounts ranging from US$11-US$101.95 in savings for accessories such as iPad Smart Covers, iPhone battery packs and external hard drives.

These prices should be available for both online and local retail Apple store locations. For those who were planning to purchase from Apple retail anyway, it makes sense to wait until Friday. For those looking for more savings, other online retailers frequently their own Black Friday sales on Apple products as well. Depending on your location, those other online retailers may provide the added advantage of not charge sales tax on online orders. Apple’s online store does charge local sales tax on all orders due to its local presence in every state.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts Black Friday savings teaser, leaves iPhone out of potential deals to be had

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 08:16
Category: iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, News, retail


Come Friday, there shall be savings.

And probably shoving to get to those savings.

So, look, try to be polite and don’t shove other people for the savings, all right?

Per MacStories, Apple has placed a teaser on its web site, saying that it will be holding a “special one-day Apple shopping event” on Friday. Apple plans to offer discounts on iPad, iPod, and Mac lines. It made no mention of iPhone deals.

The teaser appears to show Apple offering the deals worldwide. As of this writing, the Black Friday deal teaser is being displayed on Apple’s Australia, Italy, and U.K. online stores.

However, there are a few caveats you should keep in mind. For one, Apple says that the deals will be available on its “Online Store,” seeming to indicate it might not offer the same discounts in its retail outlets. The company is also waiting until Friday to unveil the deals it will offer customers that day.

Apple has been holding special Black Friday events for years. But its offers haven’t always been so exciting. In 2009, for example, it took just US$101 off its MacBook Pro models and US$31 off its iPod Touch.

Apple product discounts don’t come along too often and those who want to save a few bucks might want to head back over to the Apple online store later this week to see what’s offered.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Users report losing Wi-Fi signal strength after updating to iOS 5.0, 5.0.1

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011, 05:35
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Because software updates are either a great thing or a terrible thing.

Per Engadget, a number of users have reported losing Wi-Fi after updating to iOS 5.0 and beyond in the Apple discussion boards.The majority of replies mention intermittent connectivity and/or a significant loss in signal strength. The issue remains unconfirmed by Apple, but it appears to span across a number of devices, including the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, along with the iPad (and possibly, the iPod Touch).

Through troubleshooting, one user was able to resolve the problem by reverting to iOS 4.3, then cause it to manifest — once again — by upgrading to iOS 5. The recent iOS 5.0.1 update failed to fix the matter as well.

Apple has yet to offer an official reply regarding this issue.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Recent Apple patent points towards shatter-proof, shock mounted iPhone glass

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 07:58
Category: iPhone, News, Patents


You can’t knock Apple for trying to make a sturdier product.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a recent Apple patent applications shows the company looking to create a “shock mounting cover glass in consumer electronic devices,” the invention claims a tunable shock mount sandwiched between the phone’s glass and other hardware. There’s also plans for a sensor that can distinguish a “drop event” from normal phone movements and an actuator to prepare the shock mount for impact. Given that it’s only at the application stage, we won’t be seeing bombproof iPhone displays any time soon, but here’s hoping it’ll become a product reality someday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T adjusts iPhone 3GS price to $0.99

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 21st, 2011, 07:08
Category: iPhone, News


Wait long enough and things will get, well, unbelievably cheap.

Per Electronista, after making the iPhone 3GS free with contract last month, wireless AT&T has now raised the price of Apple’s two-year-old smartphone to US$0.99.

The iPhone 3GS was originally announced as free with a two-year contract during Apple’s iPhone 4S unveiling in October. It was reported Friday that AT&T has now bumped up that price to 99 cents.

“iPhone 3GS is still available at an incredibly low price and we’re confident consumers will agree that this remains one of the best deals for a leading smartphone,” the company said in a statement.

The second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. has been the exclusive seller of the iPhone 3GS since it arrived in 2009. Sales of the handset have remained surprisingly brisk even after more than two years on the market. According to the NPD Group, the iPhone 3GS was the second-best-selling smartphone in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year, behind only its successor, the iPhone 4.

The reason for AT&T’s minor price hike remains unclear. In the past, Apple has, however, asked its partners not to advertise its products as “free” during promotions in order to prevent its brand from being diluted. It’s possible that the iPhone maker had a change of heart about the iPhone 3GS deal and asked for a nominal fee to be put in place.

Another explanation could be the existence of an obscure accounting rule that would require a token payment for the device. For example, Apple in the past had to adjust its accounting of the iPhone to a subscription method in order to steer clear of laws and policies put into place after the Enron scandal. There’s no indication that this is the case for the iPhone 3GS, however, and offers of free phones on contract have long been a practice among wireless carriers.

It has also been suggested that the new price is meant to curb overwhelming demand, but it seems unlikely that the extra US$1 would deter many prospective customers.

So, yeah…maybe you SHOULD be listening to your ancient/pragmatic relatives when they tell you to wait two years for the smartphone you’re interested in.