Warranty firm performs “drop tests” on iPad mini, third-gen iPad, Nexus 7, comes up with winner

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:35
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You can feel confident dropping your brand new iPad mini.

But you probably shouldn’t go dropping your iPad mini.

Per a series of informal tests performed by third-party electronics warranty firm Square Trade, Apple’s new iPad mini outperformed both Google’s Nexus 7 and the third-generation iPad.

A total of three tests were performed by protection plan provider Square Trade, two using a specialized apparatus that dropped the three tablets from a height of four feet, and one where the devices were simply dunked in a container of water for ten seconds.

Unlike other tests, the iPad mini experiment utilized a machine to drop the tablets at the same time under similar conditions. In the two tests, the devices were dropped on their corners and front faceplate. The iPad mini fared the best out of the three for the corner drop, suffering only minor aesthetic damage with no screen cracks, while the edge of the Nexus 7’s display showed some trauma and the full-size iPad suffered major cracks from the point of impact.

Up next was the face-down test, in which the Nexus saw slight fissures in its display glass, while the screens of the iPad mini and third-gen iPad were significantly fractured. The test did not attempt to turn the devices on after they were dropped.

Finally, the tablets were turned on and submerged in water for ten seconds, after which they were taken out and inspected. The iPad mini appeared to function normally, while the 9.7-inch iPad’s home button malfunctioned and seemed to respond sluggishly to touch input. It is unclear how the Nexus performed as the device was quickly glossed over as it had started a reboot during the process, and was declared “unresponsive” by the tester.

Taking all three drops into consideration, the firm gave the nod to the iPad mini.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, let us know what you make of the video:



Apple introduces Lightning to Micro USB adapter to North American customers

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:02
Category: Hardware, News

You can’t knock a useful adapter.

Per AppleInsider, alongside the iPad mini, Apple on Friday introduced the Lightning to micro USB adapter, a tiny dongle first available in Europe, to the U.S. market.

Initially built and released in tandem with the iPhone 5 in Europe to fulfill the European Commission’s regulation that all smartphones sold in the region be micro USB compatible, the US$19 adapter has now become available in North America.

Previously, those iPhone, iPod and now iPad users needed to buy the component through third-party resellers or directly from an Apple Store in Europe if they wanted to charge and sync their devices via micro USB. As there is no official standard in the U.S., manufacturers offer their products in a variety of charging methods, causing many consumers to build up a stockpile of various cables and chargers. The Lightning to micro USB adapter looks to do away with at least one of those cables.

Apple’s adapter is compatible with the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, seventh-generation iPod nano, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini. According to the company’s website, the dongle is able to both charge and sync devices, though it is unlikely that audio line out is supported as the Lightning protocol is completely digital and would require an embedded digital-to-analog converter to function.

The US$19 adapter can be purchased directly from store.apple.com, with shipments available to ship in one to three days.

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

iFixit completes iPad mini teardown, finds Samsung LCD, similar design elements found in iPhone 5

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 08:12
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, News

There’s some cool stuff inside the iPad mini and the coolest-of-cats over at iFixit performed their usual teardown magic to find what said cool stuff was.

Per the teardown, iFixit found the device has a large metal plate behind its screen held in place by 16 screws. Similar plates were found in the iPhone 5, as well as the new fifth-generation iPod touch, which led the repair experts to conclude the plate is a “new iDevice design convention.”

Upon removing the thin panel, the first exposed integrated circuit is the Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi module — a component that is also found inside the iPhone 5.

The integrated circuits controlling the display reveal the LCD panel was built by Samsung. Apple is said to be looking to buy components from companies other than Samsung, which is a chief rival, but the Korean electronics maker was also the sole supplier of LCD panels for the third-generation iPad Retina display earlier this year.

The disassembly also confirmed that the iPad mini does have stereo speakers. By replacing the 30-pin dock connector with the smaller Lightning port, Apple has “just enough space” to squeeze in a second speaker.

Antennas are also found atop each speaker in the iPad mini, presumably for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The speakers are held in place by what iFixit said are some of the smallest screws they have ever seen.

The Lightning connector was also found to be soldered to the logic board in the iPad mini, a change from the dock connector in the third-generation iPad that would make repairs “very expensive.”

The full list of chips found on the logic board are:
– Apple A5 processor

– Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

– Apple 343S0593-A5

– Apple 338S1116 — an unknown chip found also found in the fifth-generation iPod touch; appears similar to Apple 338S1117 found in the iPhone 5

– Fairchild PCHPS FDMC 6676BZ

– Fairchild BC7BE F0MC 6683

If you’ve gotten your hands on an iPad mini and have any feedback, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

iFixit tears down fourth-gen iPad, finds similar design, updated processor, components

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:04
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

The fourth-gen iPad is faster with a better camera and a Lightning connector, but it’s apparently still the same beast as the third-gen iPad.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a teardown of Apple’s new tablet and found that the tablet’s internal design has remained essentially untouched when compared to the previous iteration.

Hours after iFixit tore down the iPad mini, the firm did the same with Apple’s new 9.7-inch tablet to find that the iterative component changes didn’t warrant a redesign of the chassis or internal layout.

The tablet dissected by iFixit happened to be using an LG-sourced Retina display, not a Samsung panel like those first seen with the initial rollout of the third-generation iPad. At the time, it was reported that LG Display was ramping up production of their own high-resolution displays and began shipment months later. Samsung is still thought to be one of the main suppliers for the 9.7-inch panels, though Apple has recently made moves to diversify its supply chain.

Most of the significant changes were seen in the device’s logic board, which now boasts an A6X processor clocked at 1.4GHz with quad core graphics and 1GB of memory. Components on the backside of the board, such as the Broadcom touchscreen controller, were identical to the third-generation iPad.

Full list of chips found on the logic board:
– Apple A6X SoC

– Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

– Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec

– 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC

– Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier

– QVP TI 261 A9P2

It appears that Apple chose not to utilize the space afforded by its switch to the Lightning connector, as the extra room is left unfilled. In fact, the Lightning connector is placed in a frame that is the same size as the outgoing 30-pin unit.

The other notable change is the tablet’s upgraded front-facing camera, which gets a spec bump from 0.3 megapixels to 1.2 megapixels, granting it the FaceTime HD moniker.

Unveiled alongside the iPad mini at a special event in October, the fourth-generation iPad is available today at only at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, as preorders for the device sold out on Tuesday.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new fourth-gen iPad and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

ARM lays out specs for 64-bit Cortex-A50 mobile processors, sets release date for 2014

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Date: Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, 06:15
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

No matter how nifty your devices are, it’s the next-gen stuff that smacks of awesome promises.

Per AppleInsider, processor company ARM on Tuesday unveiled new its next-generation of high-performance, power sipping 64-bit chips — CPUs that could power future devices from companies like Apple as soon as 2014.

ARM’s new Cortex-A50 processor series is based on the ARMv8 architecture. The series will initially include the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 processors with new energy-efficient 64-bit processing technology.

ARM said its new system-on-chips will be available for use in products ranging from smartphones to servers. The new chips will be 64-bit-capable, but will also support 32-bit software.

ARM said the addition of 64-bit execution to its A50 chip line will “enable new opportunities in networking, server, and high-performance computing.” The new chips are expected to boost smartphone and tablet speeds while also reducing power consumption.

The Cortex-A57 will be the most advanced high-performance applications processor, while the Cortex-A53 has the distinction of being the world’s smallest 64-bit processor, and ARM’s most power-efficient application processor.

Currently, Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV are all powered by custom chips based on ARM’s reference designs. Apple’s work in this area has grown over the years, as the new A6 chip in the iPhone 5 represents Apple’s first custom-designed CPU core.

The A6 chip is based on Apple’s own ARMv7-based processor design, and is not based on ARM’s Cortex-A9 or Cortex-A15 designs. The chip features a gigabyte of RAM with two CPU and three GPU cores, and Apple’s first-ever control of the design allowed the company to customize the performance as they chose.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OWC Aura Pro fits into 13-inch MacBook Pro via included drive caddy

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 20:16
Category: hard drive, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

This could be nifty.

According to an entry on the OWC blog, the OWC Aura Pro solid state drive fits just fine in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s drive caddy (something new that wasn’t in the 15″ model), and so far everything seems to be running quite solidly.

Albeit there’s still a battery of tests to conduct, the drive seems to work well in the new notebook with no side effects.

Not a bad thing for an SSD unit that’s about US$200 cheaper than Apple’s drive, as mentioned by the mighty Jason over on the Apple Core

If you’ve tried the OWC Aura Pro in your brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit teardown of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro finds reconfigured battery layout, Samsung flash drive and soldered RAM

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 08:16
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The long-awaited, mucho-lusted-after 13-inch MacBook Pro has arrived.

And dissected by the cool cats at iFixit.

During its investigation, the company found that Apple redesigned the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s battery to “cleverly” hide the solid-state drive underneath the device’s trackpad assembly, iFixit discovered in its disassembly of the new notebook. There’s even an empty space next to the SSD, which the repair site found to be “very un-Apple.”

The solutions provider attempted to fit a 9.5 millimeter Crucial solid-state drive into the space under the trackpad, but it couldn’t be closed. They suggested that a thinner 7-millimeter or 5-millimeter hard drive could fit in the space, which could allow upgrades for even greater capacity than Apple’s flash memory can allow.

The flash storage in the 13-inch MacBook Pro taken apart by iFixit is a Samsung MZ-DPC2560/0A2 unit rated at 3.3 volts and 2.39 amps with 256 gigabytes of storage.

The disassembly discovered that the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has the same AirPort card as its 15-inch counterpart, while the heat sink has been slightly scaled down to fit into the smaller notebook. Apple has also once again used fans with asymmetrical blade spacing to reduce fan noise.

And like the 15-inch model, the RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, meaning no upgrades are possible. Apple does not offer any more than 8 gigabytes of RAM on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The chips found on the system’s logic board are:
– Intel Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor (Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz).

– Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM (8×4 Gb front and back for a total of 64 Gb or 8 GB).

– Intel BD82QS77 platform controller hub.

– Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller.

– Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller with integrated ARM core.

– Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM.

– SMSC USB2512B USB 2.0 Hub Controller.

– Cypress Semiconductor CY8C24794-24L programmable SoC.

– Maxim MAX15119 Apple-specific IMVP7 CPU/GPU power controller.

– Cirrus Audio 4206BCNZ audio controller.

– Texas Instruments TPS 51980.

Another strange inclusion found in the notebook is a flash memory chip on the trackpad board. The same feature is also found in the 15-inch model, but iFixit doesn’t know why a trackpad would require flash memory.

Where repairability was concerned, iFixit found that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a slight improvement over the 15-inch model in terms of recyclability and repairability, specifically with relation to the removal of the device’s batteries. Still, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display could only earn a repairability score of 2 out of 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

2012 Mac mini teardown, benchmark results revealed

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 07:27
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

Apple’s made some cool changes to its most affordable computer.

Per Macminicolo and Mac mini vault, a series of teardowns and benchmark tests of Apple’s newly released Mac mini, finding that the small format desktop’s performance is approaching that of legacy Xserves and 2010’s Mac Pro.

Announced on Tuesday at a special event, the new Mac mini is largely seen as an incremental update from last year’s model as it doesn’t feature a new design like the super thin iMac, however the internal upgrades are substantial enough to significantly boost the tiny computer’s performance.

The company noted in a blog post that the most substantial additions to the new machine are Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors and the option to configure up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM straight from Apple. The entry-level offering now comes with 4GB of memory, which was found to be a major improvement as the previous 2GB standard configuration was just barely enough to run OS X Mountain Lion.

Also of note is Apple’s new Fusion Drive, a hybrid device that uses a solid state drive to maximize read/write times and an HDD to maintain high storage capacity. As Fusion is only offered on the mid-tier Mac mini, Macminicolo believes the US$799 model will be the most popular out of the lineup.

The firm performed a Geekbench benchmark test of the new unit, and found its score to be expectedly superior to previous models.



During the teardown, the companies found that not much has changed besides a different fan design, the move to Hitachi HDDs, and updated antenna connections.

The company also performed an identical Geekbench test, and found that its out-of-the box unit running OS X 10.8.1 (Build 12B2080) scored 7433, compared to a 2011 Mac mini updated to OS X 10.8.2, which scored 6583.

Apple’s new Mac mini is already for sale and starts with a standard $599 configuration powered by an Intel 2.5GHz dual-core i5 chip, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD and integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. The most expensive Mac mini comes with OS X Mountain Lion Server, a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, Two 1TB HDDs and Intel HD 4000 graphics.

If you’ve snagged a newly-released 2012 Mac mini and have any feedback to offer about the unit, please let us know in the comments section.

Apple Store now offering Lightning to VGA, HDMI adapters

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 08:58
Category: Hardware, iPad, Lightning, News

You’ll never go broke selling the adapters that people need.

Per Engadget, Apple’s online store has begun offering up some of the accessories as of yesterday.

First up are the Lightning adapters, with a new Lightning to VGA Adapter and Lightning Digital AV Adapter selling for US$49 each. While these are available for purchase today, at the Apple online store shows an available to ship date of two to three weeks.

A new US$19 12W USB power adapter (which connects directly to the Lightning port) has also appeared for the 3rd and 4th generation iPads, bumping the previous version’s 10W — meaning your tablet might get charged a bit quicker.

The new adapters can be found here.

As always, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

iPad 2 left without Siri support after iPad mini launch

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

As nifty as the iPad 2 is, it’s getting left behind where some features are concerned.

Per AppleInsider, while it was announced on Tuesday that the new iPad mini is compatible with Apple’s Siri voice recognizing assistant, however owners of the now long-in-the-tooth iPad 2 still won’t be able to access the feature.

With the announcement, it appears that Siri will never make it to the iPad 2, as the tablet was only mentioned in passing in a brief a comparison to the new iPad mini.

Looking at the technical specifications, the iPad mini boasts a number of improvements over the iPad 2, including upgraded cameras, extended wireless capabilities, and perhaps most important to some, a lower price tag.

What is identical, however, is the A5-series chip found in both tablets, a version of which is also used in the fifth-generation iPod touch. Unlike the iPad 2, however, the iPad mini and iPod touch sport Siri functionality.

It is unclear why Apple decided to once again pass over the iPad 2, though it could portend the inevitable axing of the product from the tablet line as it is more expensive and less capable than its newly-released sibling. The tablet is likely to be kept on as a “budget” model to the fourth-generation iPad, and could be phased out when the next full-size tablet is launched sometime next year.

The only feature trumped by the second-generation iPad is the size of its display, though as Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller pointed out, the mini’s screen resolution is identical to the 9.7-inch iPad 2’s, except condensed into a 7.9-inch format. According to those on hand at the event, the higher pixel density is noticeable, though not quite up to par with the full-size iPad’s Retina display.

Given that almost every new device coming out of Cupertino being Siri-capable, the iPad 2 stands out as a lonely carry-over product that is past its prime.