Leaked Blackberry product roadmap shows potential iPad competitor on the horizon

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Date: Monday, April 1st, 2013, 06:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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You may not love and adore Blackberry, but it looks like the company intends to stick around long enough to release a tablet competitor to the iPad.

Per @BB10Leaks and TechnoBuffalo, Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry appears to be readying another go at the tablet sector, as an image purporting to be a leaked product roadmap shows a potential iPad competitor slated for a late 2013 release.

The supposed product roadmap appeared Friday in a tweet and appears to show BlackBerry’s forthcoming products through the second quarter of 2014. In addition to the already released Z10 and its hardware QWERTY keyboard sporting counterpart, the Q10, the roadmap shows a tablet, a phablet, and a phablet-esque device with a hardware QWERTY keyboard of its own.


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The iPad competitor appears to be named the B10. The roadmap gives no details on its dimensions or specifications, but it looks to be a large tablet in the vein of Google’s Nexus 10 and Apple’s full-size iPads. Should the device materialize, it would represent BlackBerry’s second attempt at breaking into the tablet segment.

The Canadian manufacturer previously released a 7-inch PlayBook tablet, meant to provide enterprise-minded customers with a more portable alternative to Apple’s iPad, which dominated the tablet segment then as it does now. Poor software implementation and developer support, though, doomed the PlayBook to sluggish sales even as Apple’s tablet moved to greater heights. Eventually, then-RIM’s inventory of unsold PlayBook units caused the company to take a US$485 million charge.

With the launch of BlackBerry 10, though, the manufacturer has seen encouraging signs. BlackBerry’s most recent financial figures revealed one million Z10′s shipped since the device’s launch in February. That, in combination with drastic cost reductions, led to BlackBerry’s first profitable quarter in some time.

A new tablet would help flesh out the range of devices BlackBerry offers, making it a more capable alternative for customers looking outside of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Speaking earlier in March, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said that the company would have to do something “really substantial and meaningful… [and] profitable as well,” if it were to enter the tablet space again.

Should the leaked roadmap prove accurate, BlackBerry’s tablet will see release some time in either the third or fourth quarter of 2013. It would be followed shortly thereafter by a large-screened BlackBerry 10 device, apparently dubbed the U10. That device — likely a “phablet” in the vein of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II — may be the rumored Aristo device that surfaced late last year. Following the phablet’s release, another large-screened model would follow quickly thereafter, this one sporting a hardware QWERTY keyboard much like BlackBerry’s forthcoming Q10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple working on 4K HDTV unit for release in late 2013/early 2014

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Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, 05:16
Category: Hardware, News

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If there rumor’s still alive and kicking, then that says something.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is apparently still working on a TV set. The latest rumor surrounds the actual specifications of the TV set which sources claim will be 4K. For those that don’t know, 4K or Ultra HD offers two times the horizontal and vertical resolution of the current 1080p standard giving it an overall resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels; this would equal four times the resolution of 1080p.

The sources said that Apple and Foxconn Electronics have been in discussions for quite some time in terms of the TV’s mass production schedule, but that Apple has been considering where panel supply for the TV will come from, as Ultra HD TV panel makers, most of whom are based in Taiwan, are expected to be producing at nearly full capacity in 2013 in order to meet demand from China-based TV vendors.

Apparently Apple will look to LG to supply the panels for the 4K iTV and if it can prove its ability to supply the panels in the quantities required, Apple may release the iTV at the end of this year. The iTV is thought to offer not only Ultra HD resolution but also change the way that we interact with our TV sets. It is widely thought that Siri voice control and motion will play a major part in the TV’s user interface.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile iPhone 5 to feature Advanced Wireless Services feature, arrive unlocked

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Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013, 05:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The T-Mobile iPhone 5 will ship on April 12th and feature something different.

Per Engadget, the handset is being reworked straight from the factory to take advantage of the carrier’s Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) bandwidths, a modification that reportedly cannot be done with a simple software update.

Apple confirmed to the web site on Tuesday that the T-Mobile version of the iPhone 5 carries the same A1428 model number as the AT&T iteration, but has AWS enabled thanks to a factory tweak. The change can’t be duplicated by a firmware update, meaning current AT&T iPhone 5 owners must buy the newest version if they want AWS functionality.

As a consolation, the new A1428 model will be factory unlocked when it ships on April 12, the same day as T-Mobile’s launch date for the device. Apple will reportedly be selling the unit at full MSRP prices in a “SIM-in unlocked fashion.” While the handset has been customized for T-Mobile’s AWS bands in the U.S., AT&T customers will be able to take advantage of the slightly revamped model on their 4G LTE network.

The publication goes on to say that Apple is phasing out the older A1428 model in favor of the T-Mobile-compatible version, suggesting that AT&T iPhone 5 units sold after April 12 will support AWS.

T-Mobile announced on Tuesday that it will be offering the iPhone 5 as part of the company’s unsubsidized payment plan, which allows users to pay a low US$99 up front fee for a 16GB version of the smartphone, with the remainder of the unit’s cost spread out across 20 additional monthly payments of US$20.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut cheaper iPhone with plastic casing, no Retina display come June/July

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Date: Friday, March 22nd, 2013, 06:22
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

There’s gotta be a nugget of truth in here somewhere…

Per AppleInsider, analyst Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets issued a note to investors on Friday in which he said he’s received word that Apple plans to launch “multiple new phones” in the June-July timeframe this year. Specifically, he expects Apple to launch a next-generation flagship handset, a so-called “iPhone 5S,” as well as a more affordable handset.

“The low-end iPhone will have the same 4-inch form factor as the iPhone 5, but will have a plastic casing and no Retina display,” he said. “With a lower price point, AAPL will be able to target a growing and important part of the smartphone market (sub-US$400 price band).”

Daryanani believes Apple’s rumored low-end iPhone will carry lower gross margins than the iPhone 5 or an iPhone 5S. But he also expects that such a product would contribute another US$22 billion in revenue and more than US$5 in earnings per share in calendar year 2014, which he believes would add US$50 of value to Apple’s stock price.

In his projections, the low-end smartphone market has a total addressable size of about 500 million units in calendar 2014. He believes Apple could capture more than 15 percent of that market in the medium term, leading to what he said is a “conservative” estimate of 70 million units.

Daryanani also expects Apple to launch a new iPad mini and full-size iPad this year, while he said a full-fledged Apple television and so-called “iWatch” smart watch are “likely,” but the timing of their debut is “unclear.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone could feature improved camera, faster processor, could ship in June or July

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Date: Thursday, March 21st, 2013, 07:44
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make technology interesting.

Per DigiTimes, the next-generation iPhone components will begin shipping at the end of May, and the Apple’s new smartphone could show up sometime in the third quarter, matching with other reports that an iPhone 5S would be released in June or July.

Components for the next-generation iPhone will start shipping at the end of May with the new smartphone to have a chance of showing up in the third quarter, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

The new iPhone will not receive a major upgrade and may just be a slightly enhanced version of iPhone 5 (iPhone 5S), the sources said citing their latest specification data.

The’ sources claim the iPhone 5S would have a higher-end processor and a higher-megapixel camera, which match with other rumors about the phone.

Other recent reports say Foxconn is currently preparing to ramp production on the iPhone 5S and that it may come equipped with a fingerprint sensor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tom’s Hardware runs benchmark tests on Haswell prototype chip, finds modest performance gains for next-gen architecture

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Date: Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, 07:35
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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Intel’s new Haswell architecture is en route.

And its performance gains are about the same as those seen in the move from the Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge architectures.

A profile of a performance test of a prototype Core i7 Haswell chip by the mighty Tom’s Hardware suggests that it will offer a 7 percent to 13 percent performance gain over equivalent Ivy Bridge CPUs—a similar gain to that experienced with the move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge.


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The integrated HD 4600 GPU experiences an impressive speed boost of almost 30 percent, but the website noted that this still won’t allow for comfortable gaming on HD monitors, so gamers will need discrete graphics chips.

While performance gains reached up to 75 percent in the case of some specific tasks, the gains for typical desktop applications are relatively modest.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen, Retina Display iPad mini in 2013

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Date: Monday, March 18th, 2013, 07:28
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The next-gen iPad mini could be that much spiffier as well as arrive with a Retina Display screen.

Per CNYes and Macotakara, Apple is reportedly planning to ship 55 million iPad mini units in calendar 2013.

But Apple has also reportedly cut its shipment projections for its full-size 9.7-inch iPad, the report said, from 60 million units to 33 million. In all, Apple is rumored to have revised its expected iPad shipments downward from 100 million to 88 million.

Those numbers are identical to what was reported by the NPD Group in February, which claimed that full-size iPad sales “collapsed” in January. It’s expected that the 7.9-inch iPad mini will become the market leader this year, cannibalizing sales of the 9.7-inch iPad.

Monday’s report also indicated that Apple is planning to debut a new fifth-generation iPad with a redesigned aluminum alloy metal chassis. It’s expected that the new hardware will feature the a design similar to the iPad mini, with a thinner bezel and lighter frame.

But the report suggested that Apple is likely to face yield problems with its sixth-generation full-size iPad, much like the company saw in ramping up production of the iPad mini last year.

If Apple does launch new iPads in the third quarter of this year, it would be later than recent predictions have stated.

Prior to 2012, the iPad was updated by Apple on an annual refresh cycle. But late last year, the company surprised by launching the fourth-generation iPad about six months after the third-generation model debuted. The hardware was upgraded to an A6X processor and added the new, smaller Lightning port.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Class action lawsuit launched over alleged LG display flaws in 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:13
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If you feel like the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro has let you down, you’re not along.

Per 9to5Mac and Law360, since Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, there have been a growing number of complaints from customers experiencing issues with the product. By far the most reported problem is one that causes a burn-in or ghosting problem on the device’s display. This has resulted in a support thread boasting over 364,769 views.

Apple presently uses two display suppliers for the device, LG and Samsung, and it wasn’t until months later that many started speculating the source of the issue was with LG. Today, MacBook Pro user Beau Hodges has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple in a federal court in California alleging MacBook Pro customers have no way of telling which MacBooks have an LG display at the time of purchase. Hodges is apparently seeking unspecified damages for Retina MacBook Pro customers nationwide:

The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Many users report Apple replacing their LG displays with a Samsung-made display following the issues, but Apple has yet to confirm the problem publicly and some users with Samsung-made displays continue to experience graphic-related issues. Some reports indicated that Apple might have addressed issues with the Retina MacBook Pro in a minor refresh to the device last month, but many of the major problems still exist according to some consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for Smart Cover wireless charging system

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Date: Thursday, March 14th, 2013, 07:25
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, Patents

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It’s sort of a weird patent application, but apparently it’s been pushed through.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple on Thursday published an Apple patent application that details a system of inductively charging an iPad through the Smart Cover. The idea is that rather than plugging in the iPad, the Smart Cover would include an inductive power transmitter that would allow it to pair with an inductive power transceiver embedded into the iPad. The result is the Smart Cover would become a wireless charging station, connecting to an external power source, and allowing you to power your iPad in various positions. Apple also explained that it could use “ambient power gathering devices, such as solar cells, can be used to gather ambient power (such as sunlight) to be stored internally in the flap for later inductive transfer.”

A method for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

Apple described the advanced Smart Cover as including multiple power transmitters to allow the iPad to charge even when using the case, for example, as a stand to prop up the device. Alternatively, the cover could continue charging the device when in the closed position or when an iPad is placed on top:

The method as recited in claim 10, the method further comprising: determining that the tablet device is positioned relative to a flat surface at a viewing angle; and enabling a second wireless power receiver circuit only when it is determined that the tablet device is in the portable mode and is positioned relative to the flat surface at the viewing angle and the tablet device is configured to present video by the display. An apparatus for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: means for determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; means for enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and means for wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

13. The apparatus as recited in claim 12, the tablet device further comprising; a battery; a display; and a sensor arranged to detect an external stimulus only when the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the display.

The system described in the patent would be similar to wireless charging systems already available on the market, something that Apple’s Phil Schiller recently described as “more complicated” than Apple’s current solution:

As for wireless charging, Schiller notes that the wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes, he said. “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple now offering built-in VESA mounts for iMacs through its online store

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Date: Thursday, March 14th, 2013, 07:58
Category: Hardware, News

This could come in handy.

Per AppleInsider and German web blog iFun, Apple recently updated its online store to reflect availability of a new VESA mount-compatible iMac, with the tweaked version of the thin all-in-one costing in at US$40 more than standard models.


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The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) compatibility is likely to be a welcome addition for users who are already invested in the mounting standard.

When Apple first announced the redesigned iMac in October, it was discovered that, unlike previous models, the new machines could not be used with standard VESA mounts. In response to feedback from users disappointed in the change, Apple said it was taking the idea of adding the capability into consideration, but offered no concrete details as to when a solution would be made available.

From Apple’s description of the new VESA-compatible iMac models:
“The iMac with Built-in VESA Mount Adapter is ready to pair with your favorite VESA-compatible wall mount, desk mount, or articulating arm (sold separately). This iMac doesn’t include a stand, so a mount is required. If you don’t already have a mount, you can purchase one when you configure your iMac.”

The VESA models are not highly advertised on Apple’s Online Store, and are nowhere to be seen on the main product page, though a link at the bottom of the iMac configuration tool will take customers to a webpage dedicated to the new versions.

Apple is charging a US$40 premium for the ability to use VESA mounts with the iMac. The special configuration is on sale now with shipping estimates starting at 7 to 10 days.

If you’ve tried the new, thin iMac with a VESA mount and have any feedback to offer about the experience, please let us know in the comments.