Rumor: Apple may debut fifth-gen iPad in March, borrow from iPad mini design elements

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Date: Monday, December 24th, 2012, 08:15
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

If you were waiting a while to see if there might be a new generation of iPad coming out the door in a few months, you get to feel both proud and smug.

If you just bought a brand new iPad, you might want to want to gently throttle the friend who waited a bit for the next-gen iPad.

Per Japanese blog Mac Otakara,

Apple is reportedly preparing a thinner, lighter fifth-generation iPad model ahead of a March unveiling, only five months after the most recent version was released in October, claims Japanese blog Mac Otakara.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the web site claims the 9.7-inch tablet will surface in March with a new look more in line with the iPad mini.

The exact dimensions of the purported iPad were not divulged by the source, but they did expect the tablet to be thinner and lighter than the current iteration. As with most Apple products, and those of OEMs in general, designs have been trending toward shrinking the device while cramming in as much technology as possible. With the third and fourth-generation iPad, however, the chassis was actually slightly thicker than its predecessor as more internal space was required to hold the circuitry that powers the unit’s Retina display.

While the rumor fits with recent whispers that Apple may be moving to an aggressive half-year product refresh cycle, as seen with the fourth-generation iPad, the company has consistently worked with a year-long rotation for its iDevice lines since their respective introductions.

No mention was made of the 9.7-inch model’s internal specifications, but the publication did note that an upgraded iPad mini is already in the works. The smaller tablet will reportedly fit an all-new 7.9-inch Retina display over hand-me-down innards like the A6X processor from the current full-size iPad. Separate reports have echoed the second-gen iPad mini rumors, though a prospective launch timeline has yet to be established.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patents point to effort to reduce noise on MacBook Pro fan modules

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Date: Thursday, December 20th, 2012, 09:02
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News, Patents

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You know the fans on your MacBook Pro?

They’re about to get quieter.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trio of patent applications discovered on Thursday reveal how the asymmetric fan blade spacing used in the newest MacBook Pro with Retina display models quiet the spinning impeller without sacrificing performance.

The three patent applications, all titled “Centrifugal blower with asymmetric blade spacing” and numbered sequentially (1, 2, 3) cover separate fan designs that feature asymmetrically aligned fan blades, two with 31 blades and one with 61 blades.

Apple first introduced its asymmetric fan design in June with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a subsequent teardown revealed that the laptop uses a 31-blade unit.

Typical fans incorporate a prime number of blades that are spaced at angles equidistant to each other, an industry standard aimed at reducing unwanted sound. At issue is the blade pass frequency (BPF) which produces harmonics from the pressure wave formed at the tip of each blade. The most noticeable source of noise is the pole pass frequency (PPF) tone, or the “vibration and resulting pressure waves created by the poles in the motor of the fan.”

Apple’s design calls for variably-angled blades that controls the spectral distribution of tones created by the fan. First-hand tests have found the new design to not necessarily quiet fan noise as much as create a less grating sound.

From the patent:
“Dispersing the energy of a tone over a number of discrete frequencies can make the tone seem less noisy to the listener by reducing the perception on the tonal BPF [blade pass frequency]. Spacing fan blades unevenly, while maintaining impeller balance, is one method of controlling pure-tone effects.”

According to the invention, the rearrangement of the fan blade angles cancels some of the noise usually heard in conventional portable computers but allows for the unit to still be balanced as the center of mass is located at the shaft of the impeller. The modified design also allows for the fan system to be smaller, thus permitting a thinner laptop as seen with the Retina MacBook Pros.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPad mini to include higher resolution display

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Date: Friday, December 14th, 2012, 08:44
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The nice thing about rumors: there’s a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to be focusing on upgrading the resolution of its recently released iPad mini to Retina display specifications, with the changes said to be arriving in the next generation of the small form factor tablet’s next generation.

The Taiwanese publication cited sources from the backlighting industry as saying Apple’s next-gen iPad mini will boast a higher resolution display. It is not yet clear if the 7.9-inch tablet will feature a screen on-par with current Retina offerings, but “market observers” said a HiDPI display is likely the next step for the mini.

If the rumors are true, the next-generation tablet will move to a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, which would yield a higher pixel density than the full-size iPad’s 264 ppi due to the discrepancy in screen size.

Sources also said Apple will be modifying the 9.7-inch iPad’s existing LED backlighting system, going from dual light bars to one in an effort to cut weight and slim down the tablet’s profile.

Although DigiTimes has a spotty record when it comes to forecasting upcoming Apple products, the publication’s sources in the display industry are a bit more reliable. In October, it correctly noted that AU Optronics would be tapped as a suppler of the current generation of iPad mini displays, while a second report said weak yields were delaying the release of the iPad mini, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and the new iMac.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple meeting with Asian manufacturers, testing multiple HDTV designs

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Date: Wednesday, December 12th, 2012, 08:26
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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An Apple HDTV should be en route, they’re just selecting the optimal one.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s most recent efforts have focused on a collaboration with struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp.

According to the Journal’s supply chain sources, Apple has been testing “a few designs” for a large format HDTV, though the publication warns that the Cupertino, Calif., company may not actually build the device.

“It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing,” said one source.

Apple has reportedly been working on prototype designs for years, but the recent collaboration with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., better known by its trade name Foxconn, and Sharp may signal that the TV is edging closer to production.

The rumors are in line with previous reports regarding Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou’s investment in Sharp’s Sakai LCD plant, which netted Hon Hai a 37.6 percent stake in the facility’s operator. In November, Apple too was said to have invested some US$2.3 billion to keep Sharp alive as the firm is a key supplier of displays used in iDevices and other products.

In an interview with Brian Williams of NBC’s Rock Center, Apple chief executive Tim Cook stoked the “iTV” fire when he was asked about the company’s next big thing.

“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Hints of an Apple-built TV have been circulating for years, and reports have claimed inside knowledge that the final product will be anything from a full-fledged HDTV to a revolutionary set-top cloud-enabled cable box, but sources have yet to offer tangible evidence in support of their claims.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook drops additional hints at revolutionary television set

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Date: Thursday, December 6th, 2012, 06:09
Category: Hardware, News

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When Tim Cook hints at something, the speculation begins…

Per an interview with NBC’s Rock Center, Apple CEO Tim Cook has rekindled speculation that his company plans to build a full-fledged television set in the near future, with comments disparaging current television sets as outdated pieces of technology.

During the interview, the CEO was asked what’s next for Apple, and he hinted that the company has big plans for the living room.

“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Cook’s comments are the most aggressive yet in hinting that Apple is working on a television set — a product that has been rumored to be in the works for years. Previously, the CEO has also used the words “intense interest” to refer to its Apple TV set-top box, an existing television accessory that streams movies, TV shows and other content.

Rumors of an Apple television have persisted for years, but they picked up considerable steam late last year when the authorized biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was published. In that book, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “finally cracked” the secret to building a television.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said.

Then in January, a report from USA Today claimed that Apple’s lead designer, Jony Ive, had a “slick” 50-inch prototype television set housed inside his secure California design studio. It claimed that Apple is looking to build televisions sized 42 inches and larger with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has long been a proponent for an Apple television. In November, he predicted that such a product would be one of three core launches for the company in 2013, joined by a refreshed iPhone and updated iPad lineup.

Munster believes Apple’s television will be priced between US$1,500 and US$2,000, with screen sizes between 42 and 55 inches, and would go on sale in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple hiring dozens of Israel-based former Texas Instruments chip engineers

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Date: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, Processors, Rumor

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Never doubt the power of hiring the best engineers you can find.

Per The Next Web, Apple has reportedly hired a number of former Texas Instruments engineers living in Israel, with the new employees said to bolster the tech giant’s research and development resources in the region.

Sources familiar with Apple’s developing Israel-based operations have stated that the company has been hiring “dozens” of engineers to work in the cities of Haifa and Herzliya, the latter of which being the home base of purchased the flash memory maker in December of 2011.

The sources went on to say that Apple is picking up former TI employees who were laid off in a culling of 250 jobs at the company’s Ra’anana location, which itself is part of a larger global workforce cutdown of around 1,700 employees. According to TI Israel’s website, the Ra’anana campus was responsible for wireless connectivity solutions like WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS and OMAP products. OMAP, or Open Multimedia Applications Platform, is a type of system-on-a-chip developed by the Texas-based company currently being used in portable devices like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

Apple in April was reported to be gearing up for a major hiring campaign to fill spots at its Israel R&D center located in Haifa’s Scientific Industries Center, which boasts a collective of high-tech companies like Google, Intel and IBM. The recent TI Israel hires won’t be the first for Apple, as former Deputy CEO Etai Zaitsman is said to be working on the Haifa initiative headed up by Aharon Aharon, a veteran of Israel’s tech industry.

In May, users discovered a number of listings on Apple’s job board for SoC engineers located in the Haifa and Herzliya Pituah regions of Israel.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit completes 21.5-inch iMac teardown, discovers new hardware, lower repairability factor

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Date: Monday, December 3rd, 2012, 08:44
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

The new Apple hardware is out, and as is custom, the cool cats at iFixit have dissected it.

In its latest teardown report, repair firm iFixit gave the 21.5-inch iMac a “repairability score” of three out of a possible ten, citing a hard to replace display and lack of easily-upgradable RAM, while the Online Apple Store sees ship-by dates pushed back to over a week.

After the iMac rolled out to customers worldwide on Friday, iFixit took an in-depth look at Apple’s redesigned all-in-one and found the unit to be “an exercise in disappointment” as far as repairability is concerned.

The firm’s first major complaint was the new display that is now glued to the iMac’s chassis rather than being attached by screws and covered by a removable magnetic front glass, as is the case with legacy models. While the screen is the identical to the one used last year, Apple used a lamination process to bond the front glass to the display, allowing less reflectance and deeper color saturation, though the strategy only allows for the use of glue to attach it to the computer’s thin body.

Second on the list of complaints is the lack of upgradability. While users can change or replace the hard drive, RAM and CPU, they will have to remove the screen and logic board to do so as all integral components are located on the back side of the board. It should be noted that in its review of the 27-inch version, CNET mentioned that the larger-screened machine has an access port for RAM replacement.

There was some good news, however, as the redesigned iMac now uses dual-microphone technology for better FaceTime call audio, as well as a more robust ribbon cable for the built-in camera. Also of note is that the large central heat sink, which only uses a single fan to keep internal temperatures within operational limits, is attached to a spring-loaded Intel socket carrying the CPU, meaning the processor is somewhat easy to replace.

Less than a day after brick-and-mortar Apple Stores and authorized resellers started sales of the 21.5-inch iMac, the standard 21.5-inch iMac is shows a lead time of seven to ten business days, up from the one to three days quoted when the company activated orders through its online storefront late Friday.

The apparent supply shortage for the smaller iMac echoes the soon-to-be-released 27-inch model, which is experiencing similar delays as orders are now expected to to go out in three weeks to a month.

CEO Tim Cook warned during Apple’s quarterly conference call in October that thee would be a significant supply shortage for all iMac models, however the specific reason for this remains unknown.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on a brand new iMac, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Updated 27-inch iMac sells out quickly, ship times slip to 3-4 weeks for customers

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Date: Monday, December 3rd, 2012, 08:29
Category: Hardware, iMac, News, retail

It’s new, it’s snazzy…and now it’s really, really hard to get.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s big-screen 27-inch iMac looks to be in extremely limited supply this holiday, as the estimated shipping time has already lengthened less than 24 hours after the new all-in-one desktop went on sale.

Apple’s online store originally advertised that the new 27-inch iMac would ship to new orders within two to three weeks. But just hours after the slimmer iMac became available, new orders are now advertised to ship in three to four weeks.

The revised shipping estimate suggests that new orders may not arrive in time for Christmas, which is just three and a half weeks away.

The three-to-four-week wait applies to both the 2.9-gigahertz model, which sells for US$1,799, as well as the 3.2-gigahertz model, available for US$1,999.

For those interested in the 21.5-inch model, both the 2.7- and 2.9-gigahertz varieties remain available to ship in one to three business days. Units may also available at Apple’s retail stores for those who want to pick one up right away.

The first benchmarks for the 27-inch model show that its new Ivy Bridge processor will offer more than a 50 percent speed boost with certain tasks. Tests of the 21.5-inch model have also been shown to be about nearly 25 percent faster than their predecessor.

The redesigned iMac boasts an aluminum that is only 5-millimeters thick at its edge and also features a reengineered display which Apple claims reduces reflections by 75 percent. Speed has also been increased thanks to new quad-core Intel silicon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics processors, the latter of which is said to deliver up to a 60 percent boost in performance.

Also new is the Fusion Drive, a hybrid hard drive solution that combines the performance of solid-state media with the capacity and affordability of a hard drive. Apple solution couples 128-gigabytes of flash memory with a standard hard drive to create a single storage volume that intelligently manages frequently-used files and programs to optimize performance.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iMacs begin to surface in Australia, now available for online ordering in the U.S.

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Date: Friday, November 30th, 2012, 08:27
Category: Hardware, iMac, News, retail

You know that new, thin, redesigned iMac you’ve been hankering for?

The Aussies got it first.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday kicked off sales of its totally redesigned iMac all-in-one desktop, and customers in Australia are among the first to get their hands on Apple’s newest all-in-one desktop.

The new computer has begun appearing in Apple Stores and authorized resellers on Friday local Australia time.

A quick check with various Australian retail locations found iMac supply was unsurprisingly concentrated at stores in larger cities like Sydney, while smaller outlets such as Canberra had yet to receive their allotments. This is in line with a statement from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who noted that there would be a “significant shortage” of iMacs in the fourth quarter.

Apple announced on Tuesday that it would be launching the revamped iMac on Friday, Nov. 30, just making the November ship-by date promised when the device was unveiled in October.

Starting Friday, the 21.5-inch model will be available through Apple’s online and brick-and-mortar stores, as well as authorized dealers. Apple will also open up orders for the 27-inch model on through its online storefront, however those units won’t ship until December

The 21.5-inch iMac features a 2.7-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics for a suggested retail price of $1,299. A faster 2.9-gigahertz model will be offered for $1,499.

The larger 27-inch iMac will have a 2.9-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 and GeForce GTX 660M graphics for US$1,799, while the 3.2-gigahertz model comes with GTX 675MX graphics and will cost US$1,999.

Update: The new iMacs just went on sale in the U.S. Apple Online Store. Take a gander and please let us know what your estimated delivery date is expected to be.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iMac to go on sale Friday, November 30th

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Date: Tuesday, November 27th, 2012, 08:19
Category: Hardware, iMac, News, retail

If you’re hankering for the new, thinner iMac, just wait 72 hours.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday announced that its all-new iMac desktop will launch this Friday, Nov. 30, meeting its deadline to launch before the end of the month.

The 21.5-inch model will be available through Apple’s online store, Apple retail stores and select authorized resellers. The 27-inch variety will begin shipping in December, but orders will begin at Apple’s online store on Friday.

The 21.5-inch iMac will feature a 2.7-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia GeForce G6 640M graphics for a suggested retail price of US$1,299. A faster 2.9-gigahertz model will be offered for US$1,499.

The larger 27-inch iMac will have a 2.9-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 and GeForce GTX 660M graphics for US$1,799. The high-end 3.2-gigahertz model with GTX 675MX graphics will cost US$1,999.

The redesigned iMac has an aluminum and glass enclosure that is 5-millimeters thin at its edge. It also features a reengineered display that Apple has said reduces reflections by 75 percent.

The new iMac also sports 8 gigabytes of 1,600-megahertz memory, along with a 1-terabyte hard drive and standard Intel Core i5 processors that can be upgraded to a Core i7. The new Nvidia GeForce graphics processors also promise up to 60 percent fast performance.

The all-in-one iMac desktops also sport Apple’s new hybrid Fusion Drive, which gives customers the performance of flash with the capacity of a hard drive. This is accomplished by combining 128 gigabytes of flash with a standard hard drive, creating a single storage volume that intelligently manages files to optimize read and write performance.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.