Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped displays to customer base

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011, 03:03
Category: Hardware, News

This had to come eventually.

Per MacRumors, Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display to its retail stores and resellers this week, while individual pre-orders are said to have shipping estimates of Sept. 15.

The new displays are arriving this week and will be available for purchase “very soon.” Meanwhile, Electronista noted that it has heard of Sept. 15 shipping estimates for online pre-order customers.

Apple unveiled the US$999 27-inch LED display, billed as the world’s first display to take advantage of the new Thunderbolt I/O technology, in July, promising availability within 60 days. The display requires a Mac with a Thunderbolt I/O port.

The Thunderbolt Display features a 16:9 edge-to-edge glass design with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle made possible via IPS technology. It also includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, a FireWire 800 port and a Thunderbolt port.

Up to five additional Thunderbolt devices can be daisy chained to the display. Additionally, eligible Macs, such as the MacBook Pro, can run two Thunderbolt Displays.

Apple and Intel co-developed the Thunderbolt standard, combining the chipmaker’s Light Peak technology with the Mini DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt currently supports two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions and is expected to eventually reach speeds of 100Gbps.

The first Thunderbolt external RAID storage options arrived on the Apple online store in June. LaCie was scheduled to release the more consumer-oriented Little Big Disk Thunderbolt drive in “Summer 2011,” but has yet to announce a more specific release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on a Thunderbolt display, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

iFixit releases dual hard drive kit for 2011 Mac mini units

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 24th, 2011, 05:32
Category: hard drive, Hardware, Mac mini, News

This might prove useful.

Teardown specialist and accessory manufacturer iFixit has announced that the company has released its Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit. While the kit doesn’t come with an additional hard drive, it provides you with the tools to install one, including a proprietary SATA hard drive cable, four shock-absorbing mounting grommets, four mounting screws, a Mac Mini Logic Board Removal Tool, a 26-Piece Bit Driver Kit, and a handy spudger.

Users can install either a solid-state or traditional spinning hard drive, depending on your preferences.

Though iFixit lists this repair as “difficult,” the company does provide a 38 installation guide along with the product.

Users can purchase the Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit from iFixit’s website for US$70 and you’ll need a 2011-era 2.33GHz, 2.5GHz, or 2.7GHz Mac Mini (Model A1347).

Samsung looking to release 512GB solid-state notebook hard drive

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 11th, 2011, 06:11
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

You love having a solid-state hard drive, but you’ve had to put your Mac’s files on a crash diet to fit everything on there.

This might be the solution.

Per Electronista, Samsung announced its 2.5-inch PM830, capable of holding as much as 512GB, twice as much as most SSDs, but also has the headroom to maximize its speed. The drive can reach up to 500MB per second in reads, 350MB in writes, and has an SATA 3.0 connection to make sure it reaches its potential.

The Korean firm estimates that the SSD can cold boot in about 10 seconds and transfer five DVDs, or nearly 24GB, in under a minute. All of the extra density comes from Samsung’s newer 20 nanometer flash memory, which with a toggle DDR link makes better use of space without slowing down. Security can be locked down through 256-bit AES encryption.

Along with the 512GB version, 128GB and 256GB capacities are available today. Currently, the drives are limited to pre-assembled “premium” notebooks and even tablets. Samsung has vowed to make an aftermarket version that owners can drop in themselves, but it hasn’t committed to a release date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple expands buyback/recycling program for old iPhones, iPads and Macs

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, 04:03
Category: Hardware, News

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If you have elderly Mac stuff, you can still get something for it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has enhanced its recycling program to add a new “reuse” option that pays owners of existing iPhones, iPads, Mac or PC desktop or notebook computers a fair market value for their old equipment, paid via an Apple Gift Card.

The company continues to offer a variety of recycling programs: a place to dump unwanted electronics of any kind at its Cupertino, California head quarters (which it has operated since 2002); free recycling of Mac batteries at any of its retail stores; and free pickup and disposal of any brand of computer or display contracted through WeRecycle!, which user can obtain a free prepaid shipping label from at www.werecycle.com.

Users who own an iOS device or a computer from any manufacturer can obtain a credit for the fair market value of that device, calculated by PowerOn, a third party company Apple has contracted with to run the reuse program.

While recycling old products dismantles them and harvests valuable components such as metal, plastic and glass for recycled use in new products, reuse is an even greener option, as it extends the useful life of products that have value in the second hand market.

“If your product qualifies for reuse — meaning it has monetary value — you’ll receive an Apple Gift Card equivalent to its fair market value as determined by PowerON,” Apple states on its new recycling program website.

“You can use the gift card for eligible purchases at any U.S. Apple Retail Store or the U.S. Apple Online Store. If your product does not have monetary value, we’ll recycle it at no cost to you.”

Users can get a preliminary valuation for their old devices online, then arrange to ship them to PowerOn at no cost. The company will then contact the user if the apprised value is different than what was quoted online, a figure based on the user’s own description of the product’s condition.

If the user chooses not to accept the final value, it will be returned at no charge. Otherwise, PowerOn will arrange to credit the user via an Apple Gift Card within three weeks of receipt. The company also securely erases all data remaining on the devices while preparing them for resale.

PowerOn’s estimated value of a functional, first generation iPad in very good condition is US$165, for example. Users may likely be able to find their own second hand buyer for relatively new products in good condition, and fetch a higher price.

However, for older devices with some damage or dysfunctional features, the reuse option may provide an easier, more convenient option that still recoups some value they can then reinvest in new Apple gear.

OWC launches Data Doubler DIY Kit for Unibody MacBook, MacBook Pro systems

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, 02:02
Category: Accessory, Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Pro, News

On Tuesday Other World Computing announced the immediate availability of its OWC Data Doubler 1.0 DIY Kit for adding up to 2.0TB of internal storage capacity to Apple’s “Unibody” MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

The US$174.99 MSRP OWC Data Doubler 1.0TB DIY Kit is now available and features a Data Doubler optical bay converter bracket, a Samsung Spinpoint M8 1.0TB 9.5mm hard drive, a detailed step-by-step Mac notebook model specific installation guide, a five piece toolkit, free online ‘How To’ installation videos, and is fully compatible with the following Macintosh® notebook computers:

- MacBook 13″ “Late 2008” ‘Unibody’ and later models (All)

- MacBook 13″ “Late 2009” ‘White Unibody’ and later models (All)

- MacBook Pro 13″ “Mid 2009” ‘Unibody’ and later models (All)

- MacBook Pro 15″ “Late 2008” ‘Unibody’ and later models (All)

- MacBook Pro 17″ “Early 2009” ‘Unibody’ and later models (All)

The OWC Data Doubler gives “Unibody” MacBook and MacBook Pro owners the flexibility to uniquely configure their computer’s internal drive array. Any SATA 2.5″ hard drive or SSD of up to 9.5mm (Super Slim) height can be mounted onto the bracket with the entire assembly then user installable in a “Unibody” MacBook or MacBook Pro optical drive bay. 9.5mm SATA 2.5″ hard drives are fully “Plug and Play” recognized via the Apple Disk Utility program with standard configuration options just like any typical drive including, but not limited to:

- Creating an individual volume with its own desktop icon.

- Combining a new drive with the existing internal drive for one larger
volume (SPAN).

- Combining a new matching drive with existing internal for high-
performance RAID-0 Stripe volume.

- Configuring a new drive as a Time Machine™ backup drive.

- Formatting one drive for the Mac OS and the other dedicated for Windows.

- SuperSlim Enclosure Converts Optical Drive Into External Solution

The OWC Data Doubler is now available for immediate purchase.

If you have any feedback about OWC’s product lines, let us know in the comments.

Review: Adonit Writer2

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:28
Category: Accessory, Hardware, iPad, Review

By Pierce Case

For over a year now, iPad users have wanted an alternative to their virtual keyboard.

Now there is because Adonit just announced the release of the new Writer 2 for the iPad 2. The Adonit, an idea brought to reality by two guys who were from Apple and Microsoft, was presented to the venture capital gurus at Kickstarter.com, who provided the funds to make this idea a reality.

Now all those people who have wanted such a option (and do a lot of writing for blogs) can breathe a sigh of relief — the Writer2 for the iPad 2 is now available.

The only difference between Adonit’s Writer and the Writer 2 is in its size. Still, I’ve been testing for the last three days and there are some great things about it. The keyboard is amazing to type on and the device is easy enough to set up (users must configure their iPad 2 to use the wireless Bluetooth). Simply throw in three triple AAA batteries (you need to insert them in the top right hand side by unscrewing the special bolt, tighten it up with a penny or nickel, press the top left hand round button and you’re ready to go.

During the testing period I got to really admire the time these guys put into designing this. There is a custom lever to raise the keyboard up and down so your typing needs can be met. I brought the Writer2 out to a restaurant to test it out and people were just blown away with it. You basically now have the ability to really get some serious work done with the Writer 2.

A slew of keyboard shortcuts allow you to get what you want out of your apps. A square button on the top left of the keyboard allows you to use the virtual keyboard if you want. I was also impressed with the comfort and design of this Writer 2 which also wins brownie points for being made out of environmentally responsible material.

The Writer 2 retails for US$99.00 and from my firsthand experiences, has turned out to be an amazing product that many iPad2 users out there will enjoy.

Its time has come.

In fact, this review was done on the Adonit Writer2. Now that is what I
call amazing.

Pros:
- Keyboard can be adjusted to the way you type. This translates to a
better experience for each person.

- Smart pad cover built into it protects the front screen.

- Goes to sleep automatically if you close it completely.

- Keyboard shortcuts allow you to get in and out of your apps.

- Well made enough to feel comfortable carrying it around, despite its light weight.

Cons:
- Runs on AAA batteries but lasted for three days of testing given off-and-on use.

- Ran into problems with locking the battery port, but eventually got the hang of
it.

- If you don’t completely cover the case the screen will stay on.

iFixIt performs teardown of Apple’s Thunderbolt cable, discovers receiver/transceiver system inside

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 30th, 2011, 04:25
Category: Hardware, News

When in doubt about a new piece of hardware, take it apart and study it.

Once again, the guys at iFixIt performed a full teardown of a new Apple item, this time dissecting Apple’s just-released $49 Thunderbolt cable to reveal an “active cable” with transceiver chips on each end.

iFixit took apart the new cable on Wednesday and discovered two Gennum GN2033 Thunderbolt Cable Transceiver chips, other much smaller chips and “tons of little resistors” tucked into the metal connector.

The teardown experts were prompted by a tip from ArsTechnica, who had been told by a support technician for storage maker Promise that Apple’s Thunderbolt cable is a “smart cable” with internal firmware.

Apple released the Thunderbolt cable on Tuesday, alongside the first compatible peripherals–external RAID systems from Promise, which range in price from US$999 to US$1,999. Early tests of the Promise systems have revealed blazing fast write speeds of up to 700MB/s, as much as 21 times faster than FireWire and USB 2.0.

The Gennum web site describes the cable’s transceiver chips as a requirement for the cables due to “the unprecedented speed of the new Thunderbolt technology places unique demands on the physical transmission media. The GN2033 provides the sophisticated signal boosting and detection functions required to transfer high-speed data without errors across inexpensive Thunderbolt copper cables.”

Sources within the telecom industry told ArsTechnica that active cables are usually used at data rates in excess of 5Gbps. Chips at either end are calibrated to the attenuation and dispersion properties of the wire in order to “greatly [improve] the signal-to-noise ratio.”

Intel has also reportedly chosen to use active cabling for “future optical-based iterations of Thunderbolt,” the report’s source added. Though passive optical cabling is more common, active optical cables could allow fiber optics to be coupled with electrical cabling for power transmission. Additionally, “current electrical ports can be forward compatible with future optical cables” if active cabling is used, said the source.

On the more consumer end, LaCie has promised a Thunderbolt solid-state drive is coming this summer. A recent demo of the drive reached read speeds of 827.2MB/s.

Intel and Apple worked together to develop the specification, with Intel providing its “Light Peak” technology and Apple offering its Mini DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt drives two separate 10Gbps links, one for displays and one for PCI-Express devices, and could reach speeds of up to 100Gbps when the cables transition from copper to optical.



Similar to Apple’s experience with its in-house developed FireWire standard, the company has a fine line to walk in making Thunderbolt a unique value-add for Macs while still driving widespread adoption of the standard to ensure a large enough market for a range of third-party peripherals. Currently, the Mac maker is the only supplier of Thunderbolt cables.

Earlier this week, Sony announced a new VAIO Z laptop that implements a proprietary version of Thunderbolt. The electronics giant pulled a similar maneuver with its custom version of FireWire, called i.Link.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Initial tests show promising Thunderbolt speeds, ability to boot off new port

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 30th, 2011, 04:26
Category: Hardware, News

A newly published series of test results from the cool cats at AnandTech shows Apple’s newly adopted Thunderbolt technology blows FireWire 800 out of the water with data transfer speeds to an external RAID system at 700MB/s.

After the release of Apple’s Thunderbolt cable on Tuesday, early impressions have begun to surface on the Web. The AnandTech staff got their hands on both the US$49 cable and the US$1,999 Promise Pegasus R6 system and have subsequently stated that they are able to write to the 12TB RAID array at nearly 700MB/s while on a notebook. The speed obliterated that of the commonplace USB 2.0, as well as FireWire 800.

In his testing, Anand Shimpi also revealed via Twitter that external drives can be booted from via Thunderbolt. This makes it possible to have a full install of OS X, which includes all your files and apps, stored on a Thunderbolt external drive. This in turn would allow you to take your computer everywhere you go, and run it on another Thunderbolt-equipped Mac.

Per Macworld’s test of the new cable with the same RAID system, their detailed results show Thunderbolt is between 4 and 21 times faster than FireWire & USB 2.0. When compared to both on a 2.2GHz Core i5 Macbook Pro, Thunderbolt could write a 2GB file at 210.5 MBps.

On the other hand, USB 2.0 could only stretch to 29.7 MBps, a result that is 7.09 times slower. FireWire 400 could write the file at 30.2MBps, 6.97 times slower & FireWire 800 wrote the file at 47MBps, or 4.47 times slower.

Also Tuesday, Apple issued a series of 10 questions and answers related to Thunderbolt. Most of the information presented was already announced, like the fact that the cable offers two independent channels of 10GBit/s.

One new bit of information from the series of answers is a possible drawback for high-end Macbook Pro users: A PCI Express Card in the Express Card slot cannot be operated if the system is connected to a Thunderbolt device. Apple recommends disconnecting the device if you are going to use the Express Slot.

The full list of info is included below:

1. What is the maximum bandwidth supported by Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m)?

Thunderbolt utilizes two separate 10Gbps links—one for displays and one for PCI-E device trafffic—for throughput of up to 10 Gbps between Thunderbolt capable devices and your Mac. Some devices not made by Apple may support different bandwidth rates; consult any documentation that came with your Thunderbolt-enabled device for information specific to your device. Choose the Disk Activity tab in Activity Monitor to read current disk activity statistics, which may be helpful to determine disk activity with storage devices using Thunderbolt. Some storage devices may have a maximum transfer rate lower than the bandwidth potential of Thunderbolt.

2. What is the proper way to insert a Thunderbolt cable into my Thunderbolt-capable device or Mac?

The Thunderbolt symbol should be on the top of the connector. You can plug either end of the cable into a device or Mac; the connectors on each end are the same. Do not force the Thunderbolt cable into your Thunderbolt-capable device or Mac computer’s Thunderbolt port.

3. How do I confirm a Thunderbolt-enabled device is connected to a Mac?

Open System Profiler and examine the Thunderbolt tab for a list of any connected Thunderbolt devices.

4. Can I use a Thunderbolt cable to connect a Promise, La Cie, or other third-party storage device that uses Thunderbolt?

Yes. You can use a Thunderbolt cable to connect any Thunderbolt-enabled device or Mac.

5. Is there a maximum supported length for using Thunderbolt cables with Apple products?

Thunderbolt cables should not exceed two meters for maximum performance. Apple Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m) is two meters in length. Some Thunderbolt devices include an extra port you can use to connect other Thunderbolt devices downstream with additional Thunderbolt cables.

6. Why is there a black screen when I use a Thunderbolt cable to connect to an Intel-based iMac that supports Target Display Mode?

Although a Thunderbolt cable will fit into Mini DisplayPort connections, only Mini DisplayPort cables can be used to in Target Display Mode with an iMac (Late 2009) or iMac (Mid 2010) connected to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac; iMac models produced before 2011 do not support Thunderbolt cables or devices. If you have an iMac (Late 2009), make sure you have the 27-inch SMC iMac Firmware Update 1.0 installed to avoid issues waking from sleep in Target Display Mode.

7. What do I do if my Mac doesn’t have a Thunderbolt option in System Profiler and no connected devices seem to be recognized?

For Mac computers with Thunderbolt, run Software Update to install any available updates to use Thunderbolt devices with your Mac.

8. I’ve installed all available updates, but no Thunderbolt devices are recognized when I connect them with Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m).

Try using a different a Thunderbolt cable, using a Mini DisplayPort cable, or—in the case of a storage device—try using another supported connection method, such as USB or FireWire.

9. Can I use Target Disk Mode with a Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m) and a third-party storage device that uses Thunderbolt?

Yes. The Thunderbolt logo should appear with the FireWire logo when you start up a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac and have a Thunderbolt storage device connected. If you have both a Thunderbolt and a FireWire storage device connected and enter Target Disk Mode, the Thunderbolt-enabled device will be the default. If you disconnect either a Thunderbolt or FireWire storage device after successfully entering Target Disk Mode, the corresponding icon should disappear from the display.

10. Can I use Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m) with supported versions of Microsoft Windows on a Thunderbolt-capable Mac with Boot Camp?

Yes. Learn more about using Thunderbolt with your Mac running Windows with Boot Camp.

If you’ve played with the new Thunderbolt port or have any comments, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple developing iOS-based HDTV for late 2011 release

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011, 07:35
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

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Sometimes you have to turn a hobby into a full-time job.

Per DailyTech, Apple is rumored to be working on an iOS-powered connected TV, possibly for release as early as this fall.

A former Apple executive, speaking anonymously, said the company plans to “blow Netflix and all those other guys away” by bundling Apple TV + iTunes inside a physical display, DailyTech reports. Apple is reportedly teaming up with a major supplier to provide the rebranded television sets, the source noted.

When questioned why an OEM would cut into its sales by providing Apple with units, the source said, “If you have to be competing with somebody, you want to be competing with yourself.”

The tipster indicated a planned fall launch, while noting that the product could get pushed to next year because of Apple’s “high standards.” A fall launch could coincide with the launch of the next-generation iPhone, as well as iOS 5 and iCloud.

“You’ll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV. It’s perfect,” the source said. According to the unverified report, the iOS-driven televisions would support third-party apps.

Rumors of an Apple Smart TV have existed for years, with Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster repeatedly forecasting the product. Munster has suggested that an Internet-connected TV from Apple may have a starting price in the range of US$2,000.

In March, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said Asian suppliers had told her Apple had built a Smart TV prototype. According to Huberty, an Apple-branded TV could add as much as US$4 billion per 1 percent share of the TV market Apple is able to capture over the next two years.

Then, in April, Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities said “data points” from a China electronics trade show suggested Apple could launch an HDTV set possibly by the end of the year. “Our research suggests this Smart TV would go well beyond the miniature US$99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers,” White said.

Though Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last year that the Apple TV set top box product is “a hobby” for the company, sales of the US$99 second-generation model have improved over the first-generation. After the company sold 250,000 units in the first six weeks of availability, Jobs said Apple was “thrilled” with the figures.

Apple went on to sell 1 million Apple TVs within three months of the device’s launch. However, analysts have estimated that a million units per quarter would amount to a “fairly immaterial” $400 million in annual revenue.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities said in April that Apple TV sales had reached 2 million, reportedly selling 820,000 units in the March quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Supply chain sources indicate updates to various Macs in coming months

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 03:03
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When in doubt, check the supply chain.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Shaw Wu has conferred with sources along Apple’s supply chain and has noted that Apple plans to refresh the rest of its Mac lineup, which would include the MacBook, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and MacBook Air, “in upcoming months.”

Not included on Wu’s list are the MacBook Pro, which underwent a refresh in February, and the iMac, which saw a new version on Tuesday. Both products saw a transition to Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and the addition of the new high-speed Thunderbolt input/output port.

Wu believes the MacBook refresh is especially important because the entry-level notebook represents roughly one-third of Apple’s portable business, which itself has grown to 73% of all Mac sales. The last update for the MacBook came in May 2010.

As for the other Macs, the Mac Mini was most recently refreshed in June 2010, while the Mac Pro saw an update last July and the MacBook Air received a substantial upgrade last October. Wu sees the upcoming Mac refreshes as offsetting “a very minor cannibalistic impact” that the iPad 2 could have on Apple’s Mac business.

In February, a report claimed that Apple will replace the MacBook Air’s aging Core 2 Duo chip with the current Sandy Bridge processors in June.

In his note, Wu told investors that Tuesday’s iMac refresh stands as “a worthy upgrade” and should help “reinvigorate” Mac’s desktop business, which has declined to 27% of Macs shipped. Sales of Mac desktops actually dropped by 12% year over year last quarter, compared to 53% year over year growth for portable Macs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.