Apple announces September 12th media event

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Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012, 17:07
Category: Hardware, iPhone, iPod, MacBook Pro, News

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You’ve been waiting for this for about a year now.

Per The Loop and MacRumors, Apple has sent out invitations for a media event scheduled for next week Wednesday, September 12. The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and is scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern. The tagline on the invitation is simply “It’s almost here.”



The image sort of says it all, as a conspicuous “5″ appears in the shadow, the company being expected to deliver a long-awaited iPhone 5 handset. Apple’s iPod lineup is also rumored to be seeing an update at one of the two events, while rumored iMac updates and the launch of a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are likely to appear separately.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and full coverage of the event come September 12th.

Apple awarded carbon fiber manufacturing patent, could make future MacBooks lighter, more shock resistant

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Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012, 07:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Patents

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The way your new MacBook notebook is manufactured is about to change.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a carbon fiber molding process that could one day be used to produce parts made from the lightweight material, like laptop casings or mobile device chassis.

The patent, number 8,257,075, for a “Carbon composite mold design” describes the systems and methods needed to manufacture “aesthetically pleasing” parts from carbon fiber and other resin based composites.

While the applications of carbon fiber composite materials are many, Apple specifically notes that the invention can be used to “form outer housings for a laptop computer or other similar device.” The patent may prove useful as an increasing consumer demand has pushed the industry toward slim and sleek portables with relatively heavy large screens. For example, the weight of the much-rumored next-generation iPhone’s expected 4-inch screen could be offset by a carbon fiber monocoque.

It seems that the invention is aimed at larger devices like Apple’s MacBook line, however, much like Sony’s carbon fiber Vaio Z thin-and-light series.

The patent is described as follows:
“As but one example, it would be particularly helpful if portable electronic device housings and components could be stronger and more durable than what is now typically provided in plastic parts that are formed via ordinary plastic injection molding processes. In particular, it would be beneficial if laptops, notebook computers, and other relatively large and heavy portable computing devices could have outer housings that are better able to protect the entire device from drops and other mechanical shocks.”

The patent notes that traditional resin-based composites are made by layering resin-impregnated sheets of into or over a mold, which then cures under increased heat and pressure. Removal of the part can prove a hassle as the resins stick to the mold surfaces, which often requires manual prying and peeling from an operator. As a result, surface blemishes and other defects often occur.

Apple’s proposed method looks to enable the mass-production of carbon fiber parts that have a consistent visual appearance by streamlining the manufacturing process.

The invention calls for a two-part mold, one a cavity and another portion “adapted to mate with the first,” allowing composite parts to be formed in between. After curing, ejector pins located on one or both of the mold portions are used to separate the material from the mold body.

In another embodiment, a mold can have one or more internal fluid lines to help with cooling, a permanent release coating, and guide pins to accurately align the fiber sheets. Either a fluid or gas-actuated ejection system can also be employed for easy removal of the cured parts.

While Apple has shown no signs of using the advanced carbon fiber molding techniques in any future devices, the company may very well choose to do so in its push toward lighter and stronger products.

So, if nothing else, your future MacBook could become lighter, stronger and perhaps shoot lasers at those who oppose you.

Which is never a bad thing.

Next-gen iMacs expected for holiday season, may lack Retina Display

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Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012, 07:52
Category: Hardware, iMac, Rumor

Yes, the potential of a new iMac is cool…but it might not have a Retina display.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s iMac will reportedly receive a hardware redesign before the end of the year, but the desktop won’t receive a high-resolution Retina display.

Two new iMac models in sizes 21.5 and 27 inches were detailed on Friday by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities as two of the eight new products Apple is reportedly preparing to release this fall. Kuo, who has a reliable track record, believes the new 21.5-inch iMac will debut in September, while a larger 27-inch iMac is expected to debut in late October.

According to Kuo, the new iMac will not feature a Retina display this year, but he expects the new Macs to “still prove attractive to consumers.” Interest in the new models, beyond the anticipated Ivy Bridge processors, will come from what Kuo said will be a “brand new design.”

Display quality on the new iMacs will reportedly be improved with a new “full-lamination process,” attaching the display panel to the protective cover glass.

This new production method apparently comes at a cost, though: According to Kuo, the larger 27-inch iMac has a lower yield rate with the new full-lamination method. Thus, Juo expects the 27-inch iMac to debut 6 to 8 weeks after the 21.5-inch model.

Another big seller in the holiday season, Kuo believes, will be the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. He has predicted that Apple will aggressively price the new MacBook Pro under US$1,300, which will help drive strong demand at launch.

Kuo’s predictions call for Apple to ship nearly 1.5 million iMac units in the fourth quarter of calendar 2012. With all other Mac models thrown into the mix, he believes Apple will ship a total of 5.5 million units in the holiday shopping quarter.

If Apple can achieve that number, it would likely ensure a new sales record for the company. Apple’s previous best quarter for Macs came in the holiday season of 2011, when the company sold 5.2 million Macs in a three-month span.

Only time will tell, so hang tight and we’ll bring you additional information as it becomes available.

Apple’s 27″ iMac retail supply dwindling, Ivy Bridge update expected soon

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Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012, 07:45
Category: Hardware, iMac, Rumor

There’s a chance of spiffy new iMac goodness on the horizon.

And that’s never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, with Apple’s iMac lineup due for an upgrade to Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors, stock of the larger 27-inch all-in-one desktop has become even more depleted ahead of a possible refresh.

Availability of the 27-inch iMac is now limited at most retailers seen in the AppleInsider pricing guide. In particular, the low-end 2.7-gigahertz model is currently out of stock at Amazon, MacMall, MacConnection, Best Buy, and J&R. For now, the desktop remains in stock at B&H.

Availability of the high-end 3.1-gigahertz model is slightly better. That configuration is currently sold out at Best Buy and J&R, while limited stock is available at Amazon.

A shortage of 27-inch iMacs was also noted on Friday by MacRumors which found that the base-level machine is currently sold out at 120 of Apple’s 249 U.S. retail locations, while the high-end configuration is unavailable at 135 retail stores.

While supply of the 27-inch iMac has dwindled, there are no such signs of constrained inventory for the 21.5-inch model. Both Apple’s retail stores and authorized resellers show the smaller iMac model to have adequate availability.

Supply of the 27-inch iMac first began to dry up last month, as resellers started to see limited availability of the big-screen desktop. Supply constraints at Mac resellers is often one of the first signs that Apple is drawing down inventory ahead of a product update.

The iMac line’s most recent refresh arrived over a year ago, in early May of 2011. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in July that he expects Apple to refresh its iMac lineup with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors as soon as September.

Earlier this month, internal configuration files in Mountain Lion were discovered to make apparent references to unreleased new generations of the iMac, as well as the Mac Pro. The new iMac was labeled as (iMac13,0), while the Mac Pro was identified as (MacPro6,0).

In addition, a new 13th-generation iMac identified as “iMac 13,2″ has already appeared in Geekbench benchmarks. That machine was seen running Mountain Lion with an Intel Core i7-3770 processor clocked at 3.4-gigahertz with 4 gigabytes of 1600-megahertz DDR3 RAM.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Evidence of unknown iPad models surface in developers notes, speculation of forthcoming “iPad mini” grows

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Date: Friday, August 31st, 2012, 06:39
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

When in doubt, there’s always some interesting stuff in the logs.

Per the cool cats at MacRumors and his own blog, developer Marco Arment he noticed the two “curious entries” in Instapaper’s device stats on Friday, positing the device identifiers could offer clues to the supposed tablets’ internal hardware.

As a side note, Arment said, “There were also a few iPhone5,1 devices, but that’s not a surprise — that’s almost certainly next month’s new GSM iPhone,” but didn’t give specifics.

While Arment concedes the unknown “iPad2,5″ and “iPad2,6″ identifiers can conceivably be spoofed, he has “never had a device show up [on the logs] that didn’t end up being a real, about-to-be-released Apple device.”

Arment goes on to explain that when Apple first launched the iPad 2 in 2011, the Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA versions were tagged with the internal designations iPad2,1, iPad2,2 and iPad2,3, respectively. Alongside the release of the New iPad in March, Apple unveiled a quietly updated iPad 2 Wi-Fi model with a new A5 processor manufactured on the 32nm process, identifying it as “iPad2,4.”

It is possible that the new “iPad2,5″ and “iPad2,6″ devices discovered by Arment could simply be GSM and CDMA versions of the iPad 2 carrying the 32nm A5 chip, but the developer believes such a move would be unusual so late in the product’s lifecycle.

If the unknown devices turn out to be a smaller iPad, Arment said, the Apple-assigned identifiers suggest “the iPad Mini is, effectively, an iPad 2″ with an A5 processor and 512MB of RAM.

“This is all speculation, of course,” Arment writes, “but I’m convinced: like the leaked Dock connector, this move is so ingenius that it’s most likely to be what Apple has really done.

Apple is rumored to debut the so-called “iPad mini” at a special event in October. Many expect the tablet to sport a 7.85-inch screen and boast a design resembling an iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jury rules in Apple’s favor, Samsung ordered to pay $1.05 billion fine for patent infringement

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 17:16
Category: Hardware, Legal, News

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It went on for months, it got about as ugly as a legal case could possibly get, but in the end, the jury mostly sided with Apple.

Per Wired and Mac|Life, the verdict came in on Friday with Samsung being ordered to pay US$1.05 billion in damages for violating Apple’s patents for its iPad tablet design.

The court ruled that Samsung had infringed upon patents relating to user interface design (like scrolling and multi-touch), as well as physical design. Samsung could not convince the court that it hadn’t taken its design ideas from Apple’s iPad.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the case while Apple has stated that the company will file for injunctions against Samsung products it believes currently violate its patents.

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

Analyst: Apple producing 13-inch Retina Display screens, may launch 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro this fall

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You love the MacBook Pro with the Retina Display.

Get ready for it in a smaller size.

Per CNET, an analyst citing upstream supply chain sources claims that a high-resolution display bound for a rumored 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is now in production, with initial output volumes expected to be higher than the current 15-inch version.

According to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim, the display purportedly being produced for the smallest MacBook Pro features a resolution of 2,560-by-1600 pixels, compared to the current iteration’s 1,280-by-800 pixel screen.

“The supply chain indications are that it’s for a MacBook Pro 13.3 — not a MacBook Air,” Shim said.

The analyst goes on to say Samsung, LG Display and Sharp are all churning out the new 13-inch panel to meet a higher initial volume compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display’s launch in June. Stock of Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop quickly dwindled as supply couldn’t meet demand due to low display yield rates, and only recently has the company been able to catch up, with shipments now quoted at two to four business days.

“With 15.4 it’s production of a few hundred thousand units versus one to two million for the 13.3,” Shim said. He prefaced the estimates by noting volume depends on yield rates, noting that if the manufacturers are able to reach rate of 70, 80, or 90 percent, output of the 13-inch panel will likely be in the “million and a half range.”

Shim also pointed out that the manufacturing capabilities of the three different suppliers can factor into how many displays will be ready for assembly.

“With Samsung, if you look at the new [Retina] iPad, they had fewer issues reaching the higher resolution requests from Apple,” he said. “They were the first vendor to get to volume with that panel.”

The production timeline could point to a fall debut for the rumored 13-inch Retina display-packing MacBook Pro, which is in line with previous reports that Apple would be launching the laptop in September.

Sunday’s rumor comes on the heels of multiple sightings (1, 2) of an unknown MacBook Pro seen on online benchmarking site Geekbench.

Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is identified as “MacBookPro10,1,” while the legacy 15-inch model is “MacBookPro9,1.” The “10,2″ identifier, first spotted in the logs of an online battery testing site, hints at a Retina version of the 13-inch laptop as the recently updated non-Retina version carries the “MacBookPro9,2″ designation.

While it is unclear when Apple will decide to launch the purported device, the company is expected to debut the next-generation iPhone at an as-yet-unannounced Sept. 12 event. Further rumors suggest a smaller iPad will also be launched in October ahead of a revamped iPod touch and iPod nano.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon to hold media event on September 6th, expected to unveil new Kindle models

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Date: Friday, August 24th, 2012, 06:11
Category: Hardware, News

Apple’s not the only company with a nifty tablet out there.

And there’s some cooler stuff on the way.

On Friday, Amazon announced that it will hold a media event on Sept. 6, prompting speculation that the company plans to unveil a new lineup of Kindle tablets and e-readers.

Per AppleInsider, Amazon sent out a cryptic invitation to members of the press that simply reads “Please join us for an Amazon Press Conference.” The event will be held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.

Amazon is expected to be planning a number of new Kindle devices for launch before the end of the year. New hardware could potentially include multiple new versions of its Kindle Fire touchscreen tablet, as well as new e-ink Kindle readers.

One report from July claimed that Amazon will launch at least three new Kindle Fire models this fall: A version with a 1,024-by-600-pixel display and no camera, a 1,280-by-800 model with a camera, and a 1,280-by-800 version with both a camera and 4G LTE connectivity.

It’s also been suggested that Amazon could continue to sell its existing Kindle Fire at an even lower price point of US$149. The first-generation Kindle Fire was announced in late September of last year, and currently sells for US$199, but now faces strong competition from Google’s identically priced Nexus 7.

The Kindle Fire debuted to a strong start, but demand for the device quickly collapsed, as customer satisfaction with Amazon’s low-priced device was about half that of Apple’s third-generation iPad, according to research from ChangeWave.

Beyond the Kindle lineup, another potential device that Amazon could unveil at its media event is a smartphone. Various reports have suggested that the online retailer is considering building its own smartphone to compete with devices like Apple’s iPhone and handsets that run the Google Android operating system.

Amazon’s Sept. 6 event will come less than a week before Apple is expected to hold its own media briefing to unveil its next-generation iPhone. Rumors have pegged such an event to take place on Sept. 12, with the new iPhone becoming available in the U.S. on Sept. 21.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s talks with Korean wireless carriers suggest LTE support for next-gen iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, August 15th, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You’ve been waiting for the iPhone to support the Long Term Evolution (LTE)/4G protocol for a while.

It looks like you might get your wish.

Per Korea Times, SK Telecom and KT, two official Korean iPhone wireless carriers, have both been in talks to offer LTE connectivity on Apple’s next handed, officials from both companies reportedly told the Korea Times under the veil of anonymity.

Although industry trends and the inclusion of LTE in this year’s iPad models both point to an LTE-capable iPhone next month, supporting the technology isn’t as clean cut as supporting existing 3G networks, which all operate within a 2.1-gigahertz frequency.

“KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone,’’ said one senior KT executive, who asked not to be identified. Meanwhile, SK Telecom is also reportedly pushing for the same treatment for its 800-megahertz frequency LTE network. It sent this week an official to Apple’s Cupertino-based headquarters in hopes of hammering out a deal.

The number of LTE subscribers in Korea reached 8.4 million by the end of July, with 4 million of them choosing SK’s network and another 1.4 hinged to KT’s. The two iPhone providers, along with rival carrier LG Uplus, have been heavily promoting LTE devices on their network to much success.

The carriers fear, however, that sales of the new iPhone will suffer in much the same way that sales of Apple’s new iPad have lagged behind in the region because Apple has thus far refused to support the local carriers’ frequencies in the LTE-equipped versions of the tablet.

“KT is eager to narrow the market gap with SK Telecom and even LG Uplus in the fight for LTE-enabled devices,” said another KT source. “If the talks with Apple produce visible results, then we will rise as the top LTE service provider in Korea.”

Apple had balked at the inclusion of LTE connectivity in previous generations of the iPhone because because the first wave of LTE chipset were a bit too large and power-hungry for the company’s liking. Since then, more advanced designs from chipmakers like Qualcomm have mitigated those concerns.

In the US, Verizon LTE network uses a 700-megahertz frequency, while AT&T operates both 700-megahertz and 2.1-gigahertz LTE networks.

For its part, Sprint’s utilization a 800-megahertz frequency for LTE saw it left out of Apple’s LTE iPad plans earlier this year but subsequent reports claim the carrier has already forged a deal with Apple to make sure the omission doesn’t carry over to the launch of the so-called iPhone 5 next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Geekbench scores of purported 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro leaked

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Date: Friday, August 10th, 2012, 14:54
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

You have to love leaks.

And you have to love leaks about really cool upcoming products even more.

Per MacRumors and AppleInsider, the GeekBench scores for an unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro notebook with Retina display designated by the ambiguous identifier “MacBook Pro 10,2″ has appeared over on the Primate Labs web site.

The profile of the machine accompanying the Geekbench scores includes the same Intel Core i7-3520M Ivy Bridge processor clocked at 2.9 gigahertz as the earlier sighting, but indicates the notebook was outfitted with 8GB of RAM and is running a newer, yet unreleased build of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.1.

The “10,2″ model designation makes it distinct from the existing 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro 9,x models Apple released in June and instead associates it with the slim new 15-inch Retina Display model Apple internally designates as its “MacBook Pro 10,1″ model.

Given that Apple canceled its 17 inch offering (apparently due to limited sales, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities correctly predicted in April), this would strongly suggest the new model will be the rumored 13 inch version of the Retina Display MacBook Pro.

The appearance of 8GB of RAM is also noteworthy because the new design of the Retina Display MacBook Pro solders its memory chips directly to the logic board (below, highlighted in green) rather than offering user-upgradable sockets. The previous appearance of this new 13 inch model only indicated 4GB of RAM.

The unreleased new MacBook Pro model joins a new iMac and Mac Pro model designation that were recently discovered, with the new iMac similarly appearing in Geekbench results.

Per the results themselves, here you go and some things (like the idea of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display) remain pretty sexy: