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.

Apple announces iPad mini, fourth-generation iPad, offers extended returns for recently-purchased third-gen iPads at select locations

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:15
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You’ve been hankering for this.

And now you get to be somewhat angry at Apple for having bought a third-generation iPad, oh, six months ago.

Per Macworld, Apple unveiled the long-rumored iPad mini along with a fourth-generation of the standard model.

The iPad mini is 7.2mm thick—23 percent thinner than the new, fourth-generation iPad—“thin as a pencil,” as Schiller put it. It weighs 0.68 pounds, which is half the weight of the previous iPad.



The iPad mini is available in white with silver or black with slate black, much like the iPhone 5.

In determining what size to make the iPad mini’s screen, Schiller said, Apple engineers worked to make the device smaller, but not “so small that it stops being incredibly useful.” The iPad mini screen measures 7.9 inches diagonally. Like the iPad 2, the iPad mini employs a 1024-by-768 resolution, meaning all existing iPad apps work with the iPad mini, too.

Schiller said that the iPad mini is great for the same tasks that the full-size iPad is good for: games, Facebook, Web browsing, email, GarageBand, iWork, and so on. “I could sit here and list 275,000 examples” of what the iPad mini is good for, Schiller said, referring to the number of iPad-optimized apps in the App Store.

Compared to Android tablets, Schiller said, the iPad mini is vastly superior. Apps are custom-built for the iPad, but on Android tablets, apps are often blown-up phone apps that aren’t optimized for the device.

Inside the iPad mini, Schiller said, “the technologies…are equal to or better than the iPad 2.” The iPad mini uses Apple’s dual-core A5 chip. It has a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel iSight camera on the back. It gets the same LTE capabilities as the fourth-generation iPad with LTE, and faster Wi-Fi, too. Of course, it uses the Lightning connector. Apple says that, like the other iPads in the lineup, it still offers ten hours of battery life; the company boasts that the iPad mini uses the largest and thinnest battery Apple’s ever made.

The iPad mini will be available in a variety of configurations. The 16GB model will retail for US$329, the 32GB model will retail for US$429, and the 64GB model will retail for US$529. If you add in the option for cellular connectivity, those prices increase by $129. Pre-orders for the iPad mini will start on Friday, October 26. The Wi-Fi versions will ship starting on November 2, in many countries. Two weeks later, they’ll start to ship the iPads with cellular—first in the U.S., and then later around the world.

Apple also introduced a lineup of new Smart Covers for the iPad mini. The polyurethane Smart Covers custom-designed for the iPad mini are available in pink, green, blue, light gray, dark gray and (Product) red for US$39. Existing Smart Covers and Smart Cases work with the fourth-generation iPad. Among the new Lightning accessories Apple unveiled on Tuesday are cables for connecting cameras and SD cards.

Schiller also took the wraps off the new fourth-generation iPad. The new iPad uses the Apple A6X chip, a new chip that further improves upon the speed performance of the A6; the company claims that it’s twice as fast as the A5X, with double the graphics performance. It gets the same ten hours of battery life as the third-generation iPad.

New to the fourth-generation iPad is a FaceTime HD front-facing camera and a Lightning port that replaces the 30-pin dock connector of old. And the Wi-Fi is twice as fast as in the previous generation.

Like the third-generation iPad, the fourth-generation iPad comes in black in white. It keeps the same pricing: The base 16GB model starts at US$499, with 32GB at US$599 and 64GB at US$699. Cellular-ready models are available for US$130 extra, at US$529, US$629, and US$729 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively.

For those of you somewhat kicking yourselves for having just bought a third-generation iPad, assorted Apple Store retail locations are extending their return policy. Tablets bought within the last 30 days that show no signs of wear and tear can be exchanged for the new model.

For more information as to which Apple Store locations are offering the extended exchange, be sure to call around to see which policies are in effect.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

applelogo_silver

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

applelogo_silver

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!