Apple announces updated, slimmer, Ivy Bridge iMac

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:30
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

It may not have been the absolute centerpiece of the show, but it still looks nifty.

Per Macworld, Apple on Tuesday released a new, thinner iMac. The company reengineered the iMac’s internals and display, and Apple says the display system is 45 percent thinner and 8 pounds lighter.

The new iMacs are available in 21.5- and 27-inch models, with displays that support native resolutions of 1920-by-1080 pixels and 2560-by-1440 pixels, respectively. Previous models of the iMacs had a 2mm air gap between the glass and the display; that gap has been removed in the new iMac. Apple now laminates the display directly to the glass, and the company says the full lamination will improve optical quality.

Besides the new design, the other marquee feature of the new iMac is the Fusion Drive, which is a hybrid storage technology that combines flash storage with a hard drive. The Fusion Drive comes with 128GB of flash storage used mainly by the operating system to provide fast performance. The hard drive portion of the Fusion Drive is available in 1TB or 3TB capacities.

However, the Fusion Drive isn’t part of Apple’s standard configuration for the iMac—it is a build-to-order option. Apple has yet to release upgrade pricing for the iMac models with a Fusion Drive, though it’s worth noting that the 1TB Fusion Drive upgrade for the 2.3GHz Core i7 Mac mini is US$250.

As seen with the Retina MacBook Pro, Apple is relying on Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 for connectivity. The iMac has two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports, as well as a gigabit ethernet port. FireWire is no longer offered on the iMac, and users of FireWire devices will need an adapter.

The iMac also features a built-in FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, built-in Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The optical drive is no longer included, and the SDXC card slot that was located next to the optical drive can now be found on the back of the iMac, between the headphone jack and the USB 3.0 ports.

The 21.5-inch iMacs have only two RAM slots and support a maximum of 16GB of memory. The 27-inch iMacs have four RAM slots and support a maximum of 32GB of memory.

The new iMac is available in the following four configurations:
US$1299: 21.5-inch model with a 2.7GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 5400-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GT 640M graphics.

US$1499: 21.5-inch model with a 2.9GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 5400-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GT 650M graphics.

US$1799: 27-inch model with a 2.9GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics.

US$1999: 27-inch model with a 3.2GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GTX 675M graphics.

The 21.5-inch models will be available in November, while the 27-inch models will be available in December.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Fusion Drive, blends SSD and HDD technologies

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

This could be interesting.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple surprised its audience by announcing the Fusion Drive, a combination of SSD and HDD technologies. Fusion Drive is part of the new, just-announced iMacs, and is supported by OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). In concept, it’s similar to auto-tiering that is used in enterprise environments.



In practice, Apple is offering a 128 GB SDD with a 1 TB or 3 TB HDD drive that are combined with smart software. The OS will monitor which apps you use the most and runs them from the SDD. Apple claims that, when the system is idle, it uses 50 percent less power than a standard hard drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces updated, Ivy Bridge Mac mini

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:23
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

The Mac mini, it’s now equipped with Ivy Bridge goodness.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, besides a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple also updated its Mac mini line of desktops. The affordable Mac computer keeps the same boxy form factor, but soups up internals with a Core i5 or Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor (dual-core or quad-core configuration), integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 16 GB RAM and up to 1 TB hard drive or 256 GB SSD. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt port, four USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

The base model starts at US$600 with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of memory. It is available starting today. A server edition will be available for US$999.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for “always-on” low power geared towards mobile devices

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 07:40
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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This could lead to some interesting stuff.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a system in which the status of a portable device can be persistently displayed on-screen without having to turn on the display or primary backlight.

Apple notes that it may be necessary to check the status of a device, as many portable electronics simply shut off their displays when not in use as a method to conserve power. For example, an iPhone user has no way of knowing when their handset is on or off, or how much battery life is left, unless they turn on the main display.

While some solutions currently exist that display device status, they rely on technology that requires extra assembly and packaging, or takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the device.

In its U.S Patent No. 8,294,659 for a “Secondary backlight indicator for portable media devices,” Apple describes a system in which a low-power, location-specific backlight is used to illuminate certain areas on a device’s main display.

There are two modes covered in the invention, an “On” mode where the device’s primary backlight and display are activated, and an “Off” mode in which a secondary low-power backlight is activated when the primary backlight and display are deactivated.

Unlike other systems, the light is situated behind the primary backlight and display, and can be illuminated in sections. Instead of using cutouts in the device body, Apple’s patent calls for icon shapes to be removed from multiple transparent or semi-transparent layers of primary backlight’s system. When the low-power secondary backlight is turned on, the light emitted passes through the primary icon shaped regions of the primary backlight system’s layers to the cover glass, but are blocked by color filters that hold a plurality of icon shapes.

In one embodiment, the icons can change shape and size when needed, a good example being a battery life indicator:

“To vary the shape or size of each indicator, the shape and size of the color filters may be varied rather than the shape and size of the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. For example, color filters of different shapes and with different properties may be superimposed on each other. Thus, the shape of an icon on the display may depend on the color of light provided by the secondary backlight. This technique may also be used for icons that are displayed side-by-side.”

The icons can also be dynamic, creating a blinking effect by pulsing the secondary backlight, which can in turn save power.

Apple’s invention allows for multiple icons to displayed on the device at any given location, with the secondary backlight selectively guiding light toward “certain regions of the primary backlight such that only selected icons are shown on the display.”

It remains unclear if Apple will use the technology in an upcoming product, however space is already at a premium in the iPhone 5, making the addition of such a system questionable.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to offer livestream of media event today

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

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Today’s Apple media event starts in just a few hours.

And Apple will be streaming it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has added a new channel to its Apple TV set-top box called “Apple Events” that will live stream the company’s media briefing today. In addition, the event will also be streamed to iOS devices and Macs.

Users are invited to tune in at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to watch the “Apple Special Event” live. The presentation will be held at the California Theatre in San Jose.

In addition to a live stream of the event, Apple TV users can also watch Apple’s other past presentations, including the iPhone 5 unveiling, the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, and the introduction of the third-generation iPad with Retina display. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation model with software 5.0.2 or later.

For those on a Mac, the live stream requires Safari 4 or later on OS X 10.6 or later. On iOS devices, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later is required. The stream will be made available at this link later today.

Apple has on occasion offered live streams of its events, most recently in September of 2010. However, those events were streamed to Mac and iOS devices, not the Apple TV.

A week ago, Apple sent invitations to members of the press inviting them to see “a little more.” The company is expected to introduce a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Also potentially on tap today are new Macs, most prominently a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company may also introduce a new version of iBooks, and a revamped version of its iTunes desktop software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and happy streaming later on today!

Samsung may end LCD display contract with Apple in 2013

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Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, News

Maybe it’s time to see other people.

An article in the Korea Times suggests Samsung will sever its contract with Apple and will no longer supply LCD panels to the Cupertino company, starting in 2013. An unnamed senior source within Samsung told the newspaper that the company is not making enough money off the panels that it is selling to Apple.

“We are unable to supply our flat-screens to Apple with huge price discounts. Samsung has already cut our portion of shipments to Apple and next year we will stop shipping displays,” said the source.

Samsung is reportedly shipping fewer and fewer panels to Apple each quarter, with the Korean company expected to supply Apple with only 4.5 million LCD panels in the second half of the year. This is down from the 15 million panels that Samsung sent to Apple in the first six months of 2012. Samsung will reportedly turn to Amazon and its own handset division to make up for the loss of orders from Apple.

Apple sources components from many companies, including displays from LG and Sharp as well as Samsung.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro images show HDMI, Thunderbolt ports, SD card reader, other changes

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Date: Monday, October 22nd, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, photos, Rumor

If this is truly en route, then it looks like it could rock.

Per Weiphone and MacRumors, a series of leaked photos claiming to be of an as-yet-unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display show the purported laptop’s battery cell and external connectivity options, which include two Thunderbolt ports, an SD card reader and HDMI output.



The images also show battery cell array and other particulars of the rumored Apple notebook.

Surprisingly, the allegedly leaked machine looks to be in working order, and is shown running Windows 7 at 2,560-by-1,600 pixels, lending evidence to rumors in August that claimed display makers were producing screens with an identical resolution.

Also shown are multiple close-up shots of the purported machine’s logic board, 8GB of Elpida RAM and screen assembly.

While the legitimacy of the images cannot be confirmed, the parts do line up with rumors suggesting Apple will soon release a Retina display carrying version of its smallest MacBook Pro.

It was reported earlier in October that low yields of the expected 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s high-resolution display forced Apple to delay the device’s launch.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a small form factor iPad, dubbed “iPad mini” by the media, at a special event next week, with sources saying the company is also likely to introduce a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking to replace IR sensors with sonar technology in next-gen devices

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Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents

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Look at it this way: sonar’s been around for a while.

And it’s always been nifty.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday describes a system that may one day replace the infrared proximity sensors deployed in current iPhones with sonar-like technology.

Apple’s invention for “Passive proximity detection” negates the need for the current IR sensor, replacing it with a system that can detect and process sound waves to determine how far away an object is from a portable device.

Much like passive echolocation or a loose interpretation of passive sonar, the filing describes a system that takes two sound wave samples, a “before” and an “after,” and compares the two to determine if an external object’s proximity to the device changed. “Sampling” occurs when a transducer, such as a microphone, picks up ambient sound and sends a corresponding signal to the device’s processor for analysis.

The invention relies on basic acoustic principles as applied to modern electronics. For example, a microphone’s signal equalization curve from an audio source changes when the device moves towards or away from an object, which “variably reflect[s] elements of the sound wave.”

This effect may be noticed when sound is reflected by soft material as opposed to a hard surface. Generally, sound reflected off the soft surface will seem muted when compared to the same sound reflected off a hard surface located at the same distance and angle from an audio transducer and a sound source.

In one of the invention’s embodiments, two microphones are situated at different planes on a device, and detect the subtle changes in broad-audio-spectrum caused by interference when a sound wave interacts with an object.

To relate this to a common phenomenon, when a sea shell is held up to one’s ear a resonant cavity is formed that amplifies ambient sounds. This hi-Q filtering results in the ocean like sounds one hears.

In another example, response signals produced by two microphones located at either end of a device can be compared to determine if an object is nearer to one or the other. For example, when a user’s face is close to the top of a device, as is usual when talking on the phone, the microphone located near the ear will produce a different reactance ratio than the microphone located at the device’s base.

Basically, the signals from two transducers, or microphones, detect slight changes in ambient sound and sends corresponding signals to a processor which then compares the two to determine whether an object is in close proximity to either of the mics.

Monitoring of the microphones can be live or set to take samples at predetermined intervals, such as after a user begins to speak. Placement of the microphones can also be tweaked, and in some cases can be located next to each other.

Finally, a more active detection method is proposed, where an internal speaker generates noise, taking the place of ambient sound waves.

As portable electronic devices become increasingly smaller, the need to develop space-saving components, or to combine parts to serve a number of uses, becomes more pressing. Such is the case with Apple’s latest iPhone 5, a device that packs 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications, a battery that can last for days, a 4-inch Retina display, two cameras, and a litany of other features into a chassis only 7.6 mm deep.

Space is already at a premium with the iPhone, as evidenced by the new Lightning connector, which Apple’s Worldwide Marketing chief Phil Schiller said was needed to create such a thin device. Moving forward, the company is rumored to incorporate near field communications (NFC) for e-wallet payments, which will take up even more precious room.

It remains to be seen if Apple will one day employ the passive proximity detection technology in a consumer device, however the iPhone is a platform ripe for deployment as it already boasts three mics for noise canceling and call quality purposes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked “iPad mini” display component to feature same aspect ratio as traditional iPad

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Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Whatever comes out at the media event next Tuesday, it should be interesting.

Per Etrade Supply and Nowhereelse.fr, new photos claiming to show a display panel for Apple’s so-called “iPad mini,” with an aspect ratio identical to the screen on Apple’s traditional iPad.

Pictures of the component were published on Wednesday with the display panel measuring nearly 8 inches across diagonally, and is 162 millimeters long, 124 millimeters wide.

While the resolution of the screen cannot be determined from the component, earlier rumors had suggested the display will be 1,024 by 768 pixels. That’s the same resolution as the iPad 2, which would allow applications designed for the iPad to run natively on the iPad mini without modification.

Some recent iPad mini mockups had prompted speculation that the device could have a 16-to-9 ratio closer to that of the newly released iPhone 5. But the panel pictured on Wednesday has a 4-to-3 aspect ratio, matching that of the 9.7-inch iPad.

iPad mini mockups may appear to have a slightly longer display because they show a device with a thinner bezel to the left and right of the screen when held in portrait mode. It’s expected that Apple’s new iPad will have a thinner bezel to allow it to be held more easily with one hand.

Also included among the pictures is a battery claimed to be from Apple’s iPad mini. The model number listed is “A1445,” and it’s rated as 3.72V, 16.7Whr, and 4490mAh.

The latest battery picture is joined by a previous leak that surfaced over the weekend, showing the same 16.7 watt-hour battery. The purported iPad mini part suggests Apple’s battery will offer more energy than the cells found in Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

Apple is set to hold an event next Tuesday, Oct. 23, where it is expected to unveil the iPad mini. Invitations sent to members of the press this week promised that the company has “a little more to show you.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces “a little more” press event for October 23rd, hints at iPad mini, other new products

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Date: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News

It always helps when Apple schedules an actual media event around its new products.

Per The Loop, Apple on Tuesday sent out invitations for a media event that will be held in one week, where the company is expected to launch a handful of new products, headlined by a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Apple will hold the event at the California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. The venue is a change from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where Apple announced the iPhone 5 along with its updated iPod lineup last month.

The invitations sent out members of the press feature the top of Apple’s iconic logo against a background of colors. The tagline is “We’ve got a little more to show you,” hinting at the company’s so-called “iPad mini.”

Earlier Tuesday, AppleInsider was first to report that 24 new, different iPad configurations are set to be released by Apple. Four models — described as P101, P103, P105 and P107 — were detailed via stock-keeping units ranked as “good,” “better” and “best,” each with two color options, presumably black and white.

Inventory of the entry-level “P101″ model is expected to be greatest at launch, suggesting Apple plans to focus on a low barrier to entry for its new, smaller iPad. One retail inventory list that surfaced last weekend suggested an 8-gigabyte model could cost around US$249.

The iPad mini is expected to feature a smaller bezel than the full-size iPad, and could run a screen resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels that would allow it to run native iPad 2 applications without any modifications. It is also expected to have forward and rear facing cameras, as well as the new smaller Lightning connector found on the iPhone 5 and latest iPods.

But the smaller iPad isn’t going to be the only device showcased by Apple next week, rumors have suggested. The company is also said to be planning to unveil a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display onstage at next week’s event.

Whether or not it receives stage time, a new iMac could also be in the cards for next week. Rumors have circulated in the reseller community that the updated desktop could debut one day after the iPad mini event, on Oct. 24.

And the diminutive Mac mini, Apple’s small desktop computer and least expensive Mac, is also overdue for an update to Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Supply of the Mac mini has been constrained at third-party resellers since earlier this month, which is often one of the first signs that a product refresh is forthcoming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available as well as up to the minute coverage of the event next week.