Apple releases Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter to online storefront

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Date: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012, 06:44
Category: Hardware, News

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Hey…adapters are always useful.

Late Tuesday, Apple added its new Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter for newer Thunderbolt-equipped Macs at a US$29 price on the Apple online store.

The new adapter is estimated to ship in one to three business days. It allows users to connect their Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to a FireWire device with the small and compact cable.



The connector provides a FireWire 800 port that supplies up to 7 watts for bus-powered peripherals like hard drives and audio devices and can utiize two separate 10Gbps links — one for displays and one for PCI-Express device traffic — for throughput of up to 10Gbps between Thunderbolt-capable devices and a compatible Mac.

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

Crucial unveils solid-state drives for older Mac notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 14:34
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

You should add more solid-state drives to more things, as they are awesome.

Per Macworld, accessory provider Crucial today announced a new solid-state drive (SSD) targeted at users who want to upgrade older computer systems with a flash drive that boasts a price well under US$1 per gigabyte of capacity.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD, which is being manufactured by partner Micron, may not sport top flash-drive speeds. But it outpaces any consumer hard drive by more than twice the performance. The new 128GB SSD sells for US$100; a 256GB model can be had for US$190.

The price of consumer-class SSDs had been expected to drop to US$1 per gigabyte this year. SSD prices further slipped precipitously because of market oversupply. For example, NAND flash memory maker Toshiba recently slashed its production by 30 percent in order to deal with oversupply issues.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD uses the more widely used but older SATA-2, which has the 3 Gbps interface that most pre-2011 computer systems sport for internal drive connectivity. SATA-3 offers 6 Gbps, but only the latest systems (such as the new MacBook Pro) come with it.

Crucial said its v4 SSD has sequential read/write speeds of 230 MBps and 190 MBps, respectively. To put that in perspective, a top-of-the-line hard disk drive, such as Western Digital’s 7200-rpm Scorpio Black, has maximum read/write speeds of around 104 MBps and 101 MBps.

By comparison, an Intel top-of-the-line 520 Series SSD boasts peak read/write speeds of 550 MBps and 520 MBps, respectively. So the new Crucial SSD rests nicely in the middle.

The v4 SSDs are available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities with suggested retail prices of US$50, US$70, US$100, and US$190, respectively. The SSDs can be purchased now through global channel partners, or direct through Crucial’s website.

The Crucial v4 SSD comes with a three-year limited warranty, and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X systems.

Apple buys fingerprint recognition company AuthenTec for $356 million

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 14:22
Category: Hardware, News

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This could turn into something interesting.

Per Reuters, Apple has signed a deal to buy a Florida-based company, AuthenTec, at a price of US$8 per share or about US$356 million. That’s a premium of 58 percent over AuthenTec’s Thursday closing value. While largely unknown to the public, the firm makes fingerprint sensor chips used in computers, and various other forms of security software and chips for cellphones; some of the company’s clients include Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Samsung. Notably, the company also produces chips involved in near-field communication (NFC) technologies.

For a long time rumors have suggested that Apple is working on adding NFC support to the iPhone, and talk has revived for the sixth-generation model. NFC could have several uses; while the main one would likely be e-wallet/ticketing transactions, it might also be used to enable device-to-device file transfers, or carrying settings between multiple computers.

According to Bezinga, AuthenTec’s board unanimously approved the takeover earlier this week. The deal still isn’t fully complete, however, because it requires majority shareholder approval, as well as a few other steps.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple hires chip former AMD engineer John Bruno, looks to be expanding mobile devices

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Date: Friday, July 20th, 2012, 05:29
Category: Hardware, News

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Give the man a chance and he’ll probably invent something truly cool.

Per SemiAccurate, former AMD chip architect John Bruno, known for his contribution to the chip maker’s Trinity Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), now lists himself as a “System Architect at Apple” via his LinkedIn profile.

While Bruno’s new position has not been officially announced, the profile change is thought to reflect Apple’s ongoing efforts to design high-performance, energy-sipping mobile processors for use in its iDevice line of products.

Bruno’s management of AMD’s second-generation APU project, dubbed Trinity, is well known and it is speculated that he may take a similar role at Apple. As a side note, Apple was rumored to be using the original AMD Fusion APU in its Apple TV in 2010, but the final product ended leveraged the proprietary ARM-based A4 processor.

Originally an employee of ATI, Bruno joined AMD in 2006 when the company acquired the graphics card manufacturer in 2006. He was ultimately axed amid wide-ranging job cuts last year that saw the departure of other high-level SoC engineers. Since being let go, Bruno has been “off the radar” and wasn’t reported to be attached to any major tech companies until Wednesday’s report.

Apple has long been rumored to be looking into moving its entire portable product line, including laptops, to the ARM platform but Apple leadership remains mum on the prospect. The tech giant was reported to be testing an ARM-based MacBook Air model in 2011, though the machine has yet to materialize. Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned in February that the need for ARM-based thin-and-lights was not part of the company’s “post-PC” strategy and said the niche would soon be filled by the iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to incorporate thinner screen, in-cell technology

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 08:33
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

That screen on your current iPhone 4S? It might just get a bit thinner.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s next iPhone “currently being manufactured by Asian component makers” will arrive this fall with a thinner screen than ever before, thanks to the combined might of Sharp, LG Display and Japan Display Inc.

“The technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer,” explains DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase on the new in-cell technology. “The absence of the layer, usually about half a millimeter thick, not only makes the whole screen thinner, but the quality of displayed images would improve.”

In-cell technology comes at a convenient time for Apple as rival Samsung is pushing “organic light-emitting displays” as a key feature of its latest Galaxy S III Android handset, which features a 4.8-inch OLED screen, yet is even thinner than the current iPhone 4S.

“A thinner screen in the next iPhone could make the whole device slimmer, or make extra room available for other components such as batteries,” the report reveals, which could be crucial if rumors that the handset will use 4G LTE data prove true.

“But in-cell touch screens are harder to manufacture than conventional LCD screens,” the report continues. “The people familiar with the situation said that LCD makers are finding the manufacturing process challenging and time-consuming as they scramble to achieve high yield rates.”

The next iPhone is widely expected to include a 4.0-inch display, which is made possible by elongating the vertical height of the handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

27-inch Thunderbolt display exhibiting noise issue with 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro, MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

Firmware updates were invented for a reason…

Per Electronista, a number of MacBook Air owners are experiencing audio issues when they connect their laptops to Apple’s Thunderbolt display and complain of static, distortion and crackling emanating from the speakers built into the 27-inch screen’s chassis.

The problem usually presents itself intermittently after a few hours’ use when sound from Apple’s new 2012 MacBook Air, which was announced during WWDC in June, is routed through the Thunderbolt display’s speakers.

It should be noted that as of this writing a single report claiming the same issue was found on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, though it seems to be an isolated case not associated with the MacBook Air matter.

An Apple Support Communities thread started on June 23 is now six pages long though the issue seems to be affecting only a small number of users. Owners of both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air have reported identical problems, though some experience the issue more frequently than others.

The exact cause of the problem remains unclear though it could be related to how the thin-and-light’s firmware handles audio output. Sound played directly through the MacBook Air’s internal speakers are unaffected by the supposed bug meaning the issue lies in the interconnect.

Forum members have speculated that the adaptor needed to connect Apple’s new MagSafe 2 power connector to the Thunderbolt display’s power cord is somehow related to the static. This seems unlikely, however, as owners have unsuccessfully attempted to switch adaptors and run the laptop without plugging in to the Thunderbolt display’s power connector.

Most users have found that a workaround involving the switching between audio outputs solves the issue for a short time while others note that terminating and restarting an offending application gives temporary relief. Unplugging and replugging all connections also seems to remedy the problem.

Apple is aware of the issue though no official response has been released.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to launch third-gen iPad in China on July 20

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Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012, 07:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

Apple on Tuesday announced that its new third-generation iPad will debut in mainland China next week, on Friday, July 20.

Per AppleInsider, the new iPad will be available in China through the Apple online store, select authorize resellers, and by reservation from Apple retail stores. Customers can make reservation requests beginning Thursday, July 19 for pickup the following day between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white for a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16GB model, US$599 for the 32GB model and US$699 for the 64GB model. The iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of US$629 for the 16GB model, US$729 for the 32GB model and US$829 for the 64GB model.

In addition, Apple will also offer the iPad 2, its 2011 model, for US$399.

The July 20 launch date announced on Tuesday is a full week earlier than recent reports had suggested the new iPad will debut. Availability of the new iPad in China will come quickly after Apple reached a US$60 million settlement with Proview for the right to use the “iPad” brand name in China.

The Wi-Fi-only variant of the new iPad gained regulatory approval in China back in late March. Then a month later, in May, the 3G version was also certified for sale by the nation’s government.

It was speculated that the trademark dispute with Proview was the main reason the new iPad had not yet debuted in China. Last year, the iPad 2 launched in China on May 6, debuting a month and a half earlier than the new iPad will be introduced in 2012.

Apple’s new third-generation iPad initially launched in 10 places around the world on March 16, including Hong Kong, but not mainland China. Other launch territories in March were the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and the U.K., as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to produce 7-inch iPad in Brazil, currently aiming for fall release

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Date: Monday, July 9th, 2012, 06:38
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Something nifty could be happening south of the border.

Per Macotakara, Apple is working on a smaller format iPad that will be assembled in Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn’s Brazil factory starting in September for a holiday release.

According to the story, a “reliable Chinese source” said that while CNC machine testing for Apple’s much-rumored 7-inch tablet has completed in China, the actual production of the unit will take place at Foxconn’s plant in Brazil which is currently tasked with building iPhones and certain iPad models.

The source goes on to further detail the manufacturing plans and, contrary to recent whispers, quotes September as the expected production start date which will ramp up in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season.

While consensus remains on the tablet’s 7.85-inch screen size the form factor is somewhat up in the air as the source said the new device will be more akin to a third-generation iPod nano than a shrunken iPad. The prototype device is reportedly the same height as Google’s recently-announced Nexus 7 but is slightly wider and manages an iPod touch-like thickness that is said to be slimmer than Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Also on tap for the “iPad mini” is 3G wireless connectivity, though the source claims to have seen a handling list of carriers slated to receive the device and it seems not every provider that currently sells the iPad will have access to the device at launch.

The Japanese publication’s source also agreed with a previously reported rumor that claimed a next-generation iPhone would debut in September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may revise backlight for third-gen iPad before holidays

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Date: Friday, July 6th, 2012, 12:43
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

The nice thing about rumors: sometimes they’re true.

Per DigiTimes, Apple may be readying a minor update of the iPad ahead of the holiday season, an unverified report from the same publication claims that Apple is interested in returning to a one-LED backlight module solution instead of the two-LED design used in the current iPad.

DigiTimes claimed on Friday that Apple was making the revisions to reduce the heat output of the iPad.

“The extra LED is reportedly adding to overheating and that using one LED will help solve overheating issues since more backlights along with more power to heat those backlights is causing overheating,” the report read.

The publication’s sources said that switching back to the one LED module would not affect “luminosity and clarity” of the iPad display.

Separate reports also out of the Far East have claimed that Apple will include IGZO technology from Sharp in the next iPad. The iPad maker was rumored to go with an IGZO display for its third-generation tablet, but Sharp was reportedly unable to produce sufficient volumes in time. IGZO displays are expected to allow for a thinner design with better battery life.

DigiTimes claimed on Thursday that Apple would release an iPad with “small revisions” before the end of the year. The earlier report suggested that Apple would change the battery to avoid overheating problems and also enlarge the lens hole on the device.

Shortly after Apple’s latest iPad was released, some reviews claimed the device ran noticeably hotter than its predecessor. Apple, however, insisted that the tablet was operating “well within” its thermal specifications.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to feature quad-core processor

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Date: Friday, July 6th, 2012, 07:14
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You have to admit: a quad-core ARM processor in your new iPhone would qualify as nifty.

Per a Thursday report from DigiTimes, Apple’s next-gen could feature a quad-core processor according to industry sources. Other details on the rumored processor, including clock speed or graphics processing capabilities, were not presented.

Last year’s iPhone 4S features a custom dual-core processor clocked at 800 megahertz, dubbed by Apple the “A5.” That chip was first introduced months earlier in the iPad 2, where it ran slightly faster at 1 gigahertz thanks to a larger form factor with a bigger battery.

With the third-generation iPad launched this year, Apple didn’t unveil a true next-generation chip, choosing instead to name the processor the “A5X,” suggesting an evolutionary upgrade over its predecessor. That CPU is based around Samsung’s 45-nanometer low-power architecture, also found in the A5 CPU in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.

The main change with the A5X was an updated integrated graphics processor. While the CPU remained dual core, the GPU was upgraded to quad core in order to push the 3.1 million pixels found on the tablet’s high-resolution Retina display.

If Apple does build a quad-core ARM CPU for its next iPhone, the upgrade could presumably be significant enough to earn the chip the “A6″ distinction. DigiTimes said Apple’s expected introduction of a quad-core iPhone will help “heat up” competition with other quad-core smartphones.

Samsung, HTC, LG and Meizu all launched quad-core smartphones in the second quarter of 2012, most notably Samsung’s Galaxy S III, the latest flagship handset for Google’s Android mobile operating system. However, the quad-core Galaxy S III has thus far only been available in international markets, while the 4G LTE-capable model released in the U.S. features a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor. Next week, Samsung will launch a quad-core LTE Galaxy S III, but only in Korea.

More quad-core smartphones are expected to be introduced in the second half of 2012, thanks to volume production of chips from Qualcomm.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.