Rumor: Apple expected to phase out 17-inch MacBook Pro in upcoming hardware generation

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Date: Friday, June 8th, 2012, 08:15
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The 17-inch MacBook Pro had a great run, but it may not be long for this world.

Per AppleInsider, With a new MacBook lineup said to be on the way, Apple is expected to discontinue its 17-inch MacBook Pro this year, and might even ax the Pro lineup entirely in favor of the “new MacBook” in 2013.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI said in a research note that Apple is still planning to retire the 17-inch MacBook Pro in 2012. He expects only the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will receive updates from Apple this month.

A discontinuation of the 17-inch MacBook Pro is expected to be part of a major shakeup in Apple’s notebook lineup. Kuo also indicated on Friday that Apple is apparently planning to introduce an entirely new MacBook lineup next week, with new models positioned between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro sized at 13 and 15 inches.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro would be a logical choice for Apple to retire, as the premium professional notebook only accounted for 1.7 percent of the company’s notebook sales in the first quarter of 2012. The most popular option, Kuo said, was the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which took 46.9 percent of sales, followed by an 18.1 percent share for the 13-inch MacBook Air, and 16 percent for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Kuo believes that Apple even plans to go beyond the 17-inch model and potentially discontinue the entire MacBook Pro lineup, replacing it with new 13- and 15-inch notebooks he has referred to as simply the “new MacBook.” If the new MacBook proves popular enough, he thinks Apple could reduce its notebook lineup to just four products: the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs, and the new 13- and 15-inch MacBooks.

But given a “high sales weighting” for the MacBook Pro, Kuo admitted it would be “difficult” for Apple to quickly discontinue the MacBook Pro. He expects the product will remain on the shelves until 2013, at which point Apple is seen as “likely” to reduce supply of the MacBook Pro to help boost sales of the new MacBook.

The new MacBook series is expected to be a merging of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups. Apple’s new laptops are believed to feature a thinner design and will lack optical disc drives, but will offer more power than the MacBook Air.

Kuo first suggested in April that Apple could discontinue the 17-inch MacBook Pro this year, citing falling shipments of the top-of-the-line notebook. He was the first to indicate in 2011 that Apple planned to phase out its 13-inch polycarbonate MacBook.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen Mac Pro units to feature Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and 8-core Xeon X5 CPUs

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Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, Rumor

This could be snazzy.

Per MIC Gadget, Apple’s anticipated Mac Pro update will feature Intel Xeon E5 series processors with either six or eight cores, as well as native support for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.

The new Mac Pro desktop tower has been given a codename of K5B according to the report. It will also reportedly feature 1600MHz memory with 8 channels, SATA III/SAS 6-gigabyte-per-second drive connectivity, and PCI-Express 3 native support for video cards.

Intel’s new Xeon E5 workstation-class chips first hit the market in early March. They are based on the Sandy Bridge micro-architecture that first found its way into the remainder of Apple’s Mac lineup last year.

This year, Apple’s MacBook Pros, MacBooks Airs, iMacs and Mac minis are expected to be upgraded to Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. But the Mac Pro won’t be getting Ivy Bridge processors with this update because those chips “handle voltage far worse than their 32nm Sandy Bridge brethren,” according to the report.

The new SATA III/SAS native connectivity is expected to be a major boost for speedy solid-state drives, while native PCI-Express 3 support with 40 lanes per socket will enhance RAID arrays and video cards. The onboard memory controller has also reportedly been moved to the CPU itself, which will allegedly result in a “massive leap” in performance.

And along with standard USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt support, memory is said to be likely to see an upgrade to 1600MHz, an improvement from the 1333MHz memory in Apple’s previous-generation Mac Pros. The new desktops are also expected to have 8 physical memory lanes, allowing for 25 percent more memory.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to slim down to 7.9 mm, could feature front-facing HD camera

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:25
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s hard to knock an interesting rumor.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Mingchi Kuo said in a note to investors that in addition to the move to HD, he believes Apple will also employ a flip-chip (FC) solution for the front-facing camera on the upcoming iPhone. The camera’s position would be moved to the middle, he said.

Kuo noted that an HD front camera would better suit the 4-inch display that he expects Apple’s sixth-generation handset to have. Currently, the front-facing camera of the iPhone 4S is capable of VGA resolution.

As for the rear-facing camera, Kuo said Apple will likely retain the 8-megapixel camera while improving the aperture range to go up to f/2.2. The iPhone 4S has a maximum aperture of f/2.4. The analyst also predicted that the rear camera on the next iPhone will be noticeable thinner, “making it the most challenging iPhone design yet.”

According to his analysis, the new iPhone’s rear camera will have a CCM of 5.55mm and a lens TTL of 4mm, down from 6mm and 4.8mm on the iPhone 4S. Apple’s suppliers will reportedly face “unprecedented challenges” producing the rear camera component because of the changes to the design.

Kuo issued a report in April claiming that Apple will slim down the iPhone to 7.9mm or less. The iPhone 4S has a depth of 9.3mm. The use of an in-cell touchscreen display is expected to shave as much as 0.4mm off the phone.

Sony, which provides the CMOS for the iPhone 4S, announced this January that it had developed a thinner next-generation CMOS. Last month, camera parts allegedly bound for the next iPhone surfaced online. If the parts were indeed authentic, they would suggest that Apple plans to redesign the cameras for its sixth-generation handset.

Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone this fall in either September or October. Some reports have claimed that the device will feature a redesigned form factor and 4G LTE connectivity.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Belkin previews Thunderbolt Express Dock, offers September release date

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 07:50
Category: Hardware, News

Thunderbolt came out last year, now it’s time for the nifty peripherals.

Per Engadget, Belkin is showing off new upgrades to its Thunderbolt Express Dock even before it’s hit store shelves. The new upgrade brings three USB 3.0 ports, ditching the aging USB 2.0 ports that were shown off in the version at this year’s CES. An eSata port was also added, bringing a significant US$100 price hike on the updated version, making it US$399.

Overall, the Thunderbolt Express Dock features 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 FireWire 800 port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 eSata port, 1 3.5mm-out port, 1 3.5mm-in port, 2 Thunderbolt ports (1 upstream, 1 downstream for daisy-chaining up to 6 additional Thunderbolt devices), and a MiniDP to HDMI Adapter. Additionally, Belkin announced a US$44.99 Thunderbolt cable that is 3-feet long and can daisy chain up to six devices. Yesterday, Matrox announced a Thunderbolt dock priced at US$249, and while it doesn’t have as many ports, it is a lot cheaper — and looks more retro.



Perhaps most importantly, Belkin also offers another Thunderbolt port so you can daisy chain up-to six more Thunderbolt parts to your rig. The Dock launches in September, while the cable launches in July.

In other Thunderbolt news, Drobo has teased new Thunderbolt-powered arrays that are set to be shown off at this year’s Computex. With Thunderbolt, Drobo says it has the “potential to provide a 10x increase in performance.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Purported next-gen 13-inch MacBook specs image excludes Retina Display

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 06:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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You might not be too enamored with this.

Per Macotakara, an image claiming to show specifications for an unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro shows the notebook equipped with an Ivy Bridge processor and USB 3.0 ports, but without a high-resolution Retina display.

The image could easily have been faked. Even so, the questionable image shows hardware specifications as they would usually appear on the box of an Apple notebook.

The image claims the computer will feature a 2.5 gigahertz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 3 megabytes of L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.1 gigahertz. It also features 4 gigabytes of 1600 megahertz DDR3 SDRAM, a 500 gigabyte 5400-rpm hard drive, and the new Intel HD Graphics 4000 found in the latest Ivy Bridge processors.



The purported specifications also show the MacBook Pro with a 13.3-inch LED backlit glossy widescreen display with a resolution of just 1,280 by 800 pixels. That resolution would not qualify as an Apple-branded Retina display, as the company is expected to debut new MacBook Pros with higher resolution screens at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

In addition to having a traditional spinning hard drive, the list of features also suggests the 13-inch MacBook Pro will have an 8x slot-loading SuperDrive for CDs and DVDs. Apple’s next MacBook Pros are instead expected to be a significant redesign that will ditch the optical drive for a thinner design like the MacBook Air.

However, the alleged MacBook Pro update does feature two high-speed USB 3.0 ports, in addition to a Thunderbolt port, SDXC card slot, and FireWire 800 port.

The size and weight shown on the spec sheet has the MacBook Pro sized at 12.78 by 8.94 by 0.95 inches and 4.5 pounds. Those are identical to the current 13-inch MacBook Pro sold by Apple.

If legitimate, it’s possible the specifications could show a low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro that Apple intends to release. That model could lack some of the features of the higher end models, like a thinner design and Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Matrox releases DS1, allows Thunderbolt-equipped Macs and PC notebooks desktop range of ports

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Peripheral

You can’t knock a good peripheral device.

Per AppleInsider, Matrox on Sunday unveiled its new DS1 Thunderbolt docking station, which allows users to add multiple peripherals like an HDMI display, a full-size keyboard and a mouse to a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac or PC and will be available this September for US$249.

The DS1 also includes a gigabit Ethernet port that provides connectivity to wired corporate networks at data transfers 18 times faster than Wi-Fi. In addition, it has a high-speed USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a microphone input, and a speaker/headphone output, all of which can connect to a Thunderbolt MacBook or Ultrabook with just one cable.



The Matrox DS1 will be showcased at the Computex Taipei 2012 event at Intel’s official booth, located at M0410 in the NanGang Exhibition Hall.

Also set to arrive in September is Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock, which was announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. It will also turn a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac into a full-fledged desktop workstation with an HDMI port, FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5-millimeter audio port, one gigabit Ethernet port, and two Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining to another Thunderbolt device.

Apple also offers the Thunderbolt Display, which lets users plug in one 10Gbps Thunderbolt cable to drive a monitor, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel releases 14 low-voltage Ivy Bridge CPUs

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Date: Friday, June 1st, 2012, 05:30
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

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It’s just a question of when Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors arrive within an updated MacBook Air notebook.

Per Engadget, Intel on Thursday announced 14 new Ivy Bridge processors, four of which are ultra-low voltage chips that could find their way into Apple’s updated MacBook Air lineup.

All of the ultra-low voltage lineup has two cores and four threads running at 17 watts thermal power design, along with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000.

Leading off the new batch of Intel’s third-generation processors is the i7-3667U, with a CPU base frequency of 2 gigahertz running as fast as 3.2 gigahertz with Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Max Frequency, and 4 megabytes of L3 cache. Next down the lists the i7-3517U, which has a base speed of 1.9 gigahertz that ramps up to 3 gigahertz, along with 4 megabytes of L3 cache.

The lower-end Core i5 ultra-low voltage Ivy Bridge CPUs are led by the i5-3427U, which has a base frequency of 1.8 gigahertz that runs as fast as 2.8 gigahertz with Intel Turbo Boost, with 3 megabytes of L3 cache. And the lowest ultra-low voltage CPU announced Thursday is the i5-3317U, with a base frequency of 1.7 gigahertz, max frequency of 2.6 gigahertz, and 3 megabytes of L3 cache.



All of Intel’s Ivy Bridge “Ultra Processors” have support for PCIe Generation 3, as well as Intel’s Secure Key, OS Guard, AES/TXT/vPro and Virtualization technology.

The MacBook Air lineup was last updated nearly a year ago, in July of 2011. The notebooks were equipped with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors, and gained backlit keyboards and Thunderbolt ports.

Also announced by Intel on Thursday were a handful of dual-core traditional mobile chips that could find their way into other products in Apple’s Mac lineup, specifically the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, or the Mac mini. The Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors run at 35W TDP, feature four threads, include Intel HD Graphics 4000, and range in speed from 3.1 gigahertz to 3.6 gigahertz with Intel Turbo Boost.

Intel launched its first batch of Ivy Bridge processors in late April, declaring them the “world’s first 22-nanometer product.” A total of 13 high-end quad-core chips were released in the first round, and it’s believed some of them could make their way into Apple’s updated MacBook Pro lineup.

Rumors have suggested that Apple plans to launch new Macs at its forthcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which will kick off on June 11. Some reports have indicated that Apple will unveil new MacBook Pros and iMacs at the event, but little has been said of an impending MacBook Air refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone schematics surface, show possible 4″ display, repositioned FaceTime camera

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 08:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to build something, you probably need a schematic.

Per 9to5 Mac, a set of black and white schematics of what are purported to be the next-generation iPhone have been discovered. The schematics show assorted new features of the device such as the redesigned speaker grills, and repositioned earphone jack and FaceTime camera, exact display dimensions are still unknown. The plans show what appears to be the next-generation iPhone front glass with enough room for the much rumored, roughly 4-inch display.

On Wednesday, new schematics have surfaced via Cydia Blog that show a diagonal opening of just slightly over 4-inches. The designs also show the repositioned FaceTime camera above the earpiece.



Although calculations of the display show an opening less than .1 of an inch over 4-inches, the display could likely measure a flat 4-inches diagonally as the front panel is typically slightly larger than the display itself.

All this is up in the air right now, but hey…schematics!!!

Apple TV OS may surface at WWDC

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Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012, 06:00
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor, Software

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Even an HDTV may need its own custom operating system.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple may show off an updated version of its Apple TV operating system at next week’s World Wide Developer Conference.

The new version is expected to be packed with more features, and will be the version of the OS on Apple’s rumored upcoming HDTV, the report says. Apple is reportedly talking to manufacturers about using a new “control out” application programming interface that allows accessories to work with the new Apple TV operating system and television. The idea is to allow users to control any component with an Apple remote.

The article also stated that Apple won’t be showing the HDTV at WWDC. The show is expected to feature an updated version of its iOS mobile platform, and likely the debut of updated MacBook notebooks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins manufacturing first batch of HDTV units

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:20
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

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Apple’s HDTV units might be en route relatively soon.

Per China Business News, Apple this month is reported to have begun production of the first prototypes of its much-anticipated connected television sets at one of its overseas manufacturing facilities ahead of a general production ramp expected to begin late in the 2012 calendar year.

The news, which was attributed to “informed sources”, was picked up and translated by the WantChinaTimes web site earlier on Monday.

In particular, the publication cited its sources as saying that this initial build plan is taking place in one of Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants as a trial production run, which typically produces a small number of assembly-line-quality prototypes for Apple to put through its design test verification stages. No further details were reported.

While Apple’s foray into the big-screen, connected TV business has been a popular topic of discussion amongst industry watchers for several years, few — if any — reliable details surrounding the project have surfaced outside of a claim by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ secret to a simple HDTV.

Jobs’s vision for a connected TV, disclosed vaguely to Isaacson prior to his passing last October, would see the device synced with all of a user’s devices, and with Apple’s iCloud service.

The simplified HDTV would reportedly spare users from having to use complex remotes for multiple devices like DVD players and cable boxes. More specifically, Isaacson wrote in the best-selling biography that Jobs “wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”

Earlier this month, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his manufacturing firm was “making preparations” for an Apple television, but development or manufacturing had not yet begun. But days later, Gou issued a statement to reporters in which he backtracked on those claims, stating that “[a]ny reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.