Apple discussion board headings confirm update iLife, MacBook Air products

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Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 04:35
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

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With only hours to go before the company’s “Back to the Mac” event, updates to Apple’s official online forums reveal at least some of the products due to be unveiled at today’s “Back to the Mac” event, including iLife ’11 and a new MacBook Air.

Per AppleInsider, new sections on the Apple Discussions page added Wednesday include iMovie ’11, iPhoto ’11, and GarageBand ’11, all part of the iLife software suite. There is also a forum titled “MBA (Need official name)” which will likely be the discussion home for the newly redesigned MacBook Air.

Finally, a mystery space on the forums points to but does not reveal what product it represents. It simply carries the title “Reserved 10 20.”

Last week, the following details were located and confirmed regarding an updated MacBook Air notebook:
- A smaller 11.6″ display.

- 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (with a 2.33GHz option possible).

- 2GB of memory in the base configuration.

- No optical drive.

- Mini DisplayPort, USB, and SD card reader on the left side; USB and power on the right.

- The trackpad has been updated to match that of the new MacBook Pros.

- Although smaller due to the 11.6″ display, it’s still about the same thickness as the current MacBook Air.

- A black power key now sits immediately to the right of a smaller eject key on the MBA’s keyboard — the round aluminum power button is gone. A design decision that might support the MBA’s rumored instant-on capabilities though our source didn’t see this functionality exhibited (possibly because it was running OS X 10.6.4).

We’ll know the full details in a few hours, so stay tuned and we’ll bring you everything we can get our mitts on.

Review: 120GB Mercury Extreme Pro 2.5″ Notebook Drive

Posted by:
Date: Sunday, October 10th, 2010, 12:35
Category: hard drive, Hardware, Review

Maybe it’s part of getting older.

When the idea of solid state hard drives first emerged a few years ago, there was some hesitancy on my part.

Not quite the smashing of all available nearby looms, but some hesitancy.

This was a new thing, a hard drive made entirely of flash memory with no moving parts whatsoever and thus mysterious. And after years of fighting with both ATA-IDE drives (including occasionally realigning the pins with a pen when they bent) and SATA-based hard drives, you become hesitant to change.

Beyond my own hesitancy came the idea of sheer capacity. Yes, various hard drive companies had been offering solid state options for a while, but when they first hit, their capacities were a fraction of what you’d find on a conventional hard drive with moving parts. Yes, a MacBook Air with a quiet solid state hard drive seemed cool when it first came out, but when your capacity topped out at 40 to 80 gigabytes, this put pause on being an early adopter.

Still, 120 gigabytes didn’t seem like something to sneeze at and with my 2008 white plastic MacBook’s conventional SATA hard drive slowing down during iMovie work, there seemed to be no time like the present to try an alternative.

The result: I’m going to be reluctant to have to ship Other World Computing’s 120GB Extreme Mercury Pro SSD drive back in a couple of days.

Having done the classic hard-drive-swaperoo of taking the new drive, putting it in an external carrier, cloning the old hard drive’s data to the new drive and then swapping the new drive in, the drive booted cleanly and without issue. In the following months, the drive has run a bit quieter than its conventional SATA alternative and felt just as brisk as a conventional notebook hard drive.

Even if the drive itself doesn’t blaze along at a professional grade speeds (there’s always been something cool about a high end 10,000 RPM desktop hard drive tearing through Photoshop and Final Cut processes without slowing down in the least), the Mercury felt like something you could install and forget about. Yes, this was a new thing, my very first flash hard drive. Still, once installed, it fell into the background, ran completely reliably no matter what was thrown at it and never seemed to slow.

Granted, this isn’t the most exciting news in the world, but it does offer a promise for the encompassing technology itself. Even if conventional SATA notebook drives still offer a larger capacity and these are the early years of flash-based notebook hard drives, there’s something reliable here. As strange as the idea of a hard drive without moving parts may be (upon removal from the box, the drive itself weighed next to nothing, almost if if you’d received a fake cardboard hard drive in the mail), the end product works reliably enough to install into grandma’s Apple notebook if need be (provided it supports SATA hard drives), makes sure all her old files have been cloned over for her to use and you’re off to the races.

No, this isn’t groundbreaking, but it is cool, fun to install and reliable in the end. The drive installs, it works briskly and you can put it in the back of your mind and get on with the rest of your day, remembering to feed your pets instead of wondering why your hard drive appears to be groaning loudly or, worse, scraping one of its data platters during day to day operation.

And at the end of the day, none of these are terrible things.

Give it a gander.

The 120GB Mercury Extreme Pro retails from US$289.99 and is available now.

Hitachi releases updated desktop, notebook hard drives, offers up to 750 GB capacities

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Date: Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, 08:10
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Electronics maker Hitachi announced its new 375GB per platter, 5400-rpm and 7200-rpm, 2.5″ hard drives: the Travelstar 5K750 and Travelstar 7K750 on Wednesday.

Per Macworld, Hitachi has stated that the drives offer the industry’s highest capacities in a standard 9.5 mm two-disk design.

The Travelstar 5K750 and 7K750 drive families are the first Hitachi hard drives that feature Advanced Format, which increases the physical sector size on hard drives from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes, or 4KB—eight times larger. Hitachi’s previous generation drive was the Travelstar 7K500, which had maximum areal density of 370 Gbits per square inch. The new platters have an areal density of 472 Gbit per square inch.

Hitachi’s 5400-rpm Travelstar 5K750 drives feature an 8MB buffer for caching and a Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gbit per second interface for fast data transfer rates. The drive consumes 0.5 watts while idle and 1.4 watts power during read/write operations, which Hitachi said contributes to longer battery life in notebooks and other unplugged applications.

Hitachi’s 7200-rpm Travelstar 7K750 drive has a 16MB buffer, which allows quicker access to data and faster system performance, especially for multi-tasking and other high-performance office and home applications. It uses 0.5 watts idle and 1.8 watts during read/write operations.

The Travelstar 7K750 is a self-encrypting drive using Hitachi’s Bulk Data Encryption (BDE) specification, which encrypts data using protected keys in real time. It also speeds and simplifies the drive re-deployment process. By deleting the encryption key, the data on the drive is rendered unreadable, thereby eliminating the need for time-consuming data-overwrite. The drive is said to be “independent of OS so that a BDE hard drive can be used on an Apple Macintosh system. However, because Apple systems do not support the ATA security feature set, a BDE drive will function only as a standard drive in an Apple system.”

Both of the new Travelstar hard drive families come in capacities of 500GB, 640GB and 750GB.

Travelstar 5K750 Retail Hard Drive Kits will be available next month with a suggested retail price of US$130. The drive will be shipping to system manufacturers for qualification by the end of the year. The 7200-rpm Travelstar 7K750 family will be available in Q1 2011. Pricing for that drive has yet to be announced.

OWC releases additional Do-It-Yourself upgrade kits for Apple notebooks, Mac minis

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Date: Friday, April 2nd, 2010, 07:15
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

Peripherals provider and all-around-useful company Other World Computing (OWC) has announced the release of over 50 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Storage Upgrade Kits for Apple’s notebooks and Mac mini computers.

Per Macsimum News, suggested retail pricing starts at US$67.99 for a model that consists of a 2.5-inch SATA hard drive up to 1TB, an OWC brand FireWire and/or USB 2.0 bus powered 2.5-inch portable external enclosure, and a five piece installation tool kit.

With an OWC DIY Storage Upgrade Kit, Mac and PC notebook users and Mac mini users can upgrade their computer’s internal hard drive to a new larger capacity and/or faster speed, transfer their data to the new drive, and then continue using the “old” drive by installing it into the provided OWC enclosure for a “new” pocket-sized external drive.

Toshiba rolls out 750GB, 1TB notebook hard drives

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 25th, 2010, 05:26
Category: hard drive, Hardware

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Electronics manufacturer Toshiba announced the release of its MK7559GSXP (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) notebook drive Wednesday night. Per Electronista, the 2.5″ notebook drive is the first to hold 750GB but reach the same 9.5mm height as most slimmer notebook hard drives. As such, it can provide the capacity expected of a desktop hard drive but fit into thin-and-light notebooks like the MacBook Pro as well as all-in-one desktops and digital media hubs.

Despite featuring about 17% more capacity, the new SATA II drive consumes about 14% less power than the 640GB predecessor it’s set to replace and could extend the theoretical battery life. The units spins at just 5,400RPM, but its very high density, two-platter design may compensate for the perceived drop in access speed.

In tandem with the thin drive, Toshiba is rolling out the MKxx59GSM line, which brings 750GB and 1TB drives but in a taller three-platter, 12.5mm profile more suited to desktop replacement notebooks and other computers where thinness isn’t an absolute priority. Either rotates at the same speed but is slightly less energy-efficient.

All three of the disks are due to start sampling for system builders in April and should enter mass production soon afterwards.

Rumor: Apple Could Release Verizon iPhone at Jan. 27th Media Event, Additional Tablet Specs Emerge

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Date: Thursday, January 21st, 2010, 05:03
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

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Albeit a new generation iPhone isn’t expected until June, Apple could use its January 27th media event at the Yerba Buena to announce a Verizon handset next week.

Per AppleInsider, Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek has stated that he expects Apple to announce a Verizon iPhone as well as introduce iPhone OS 4.0. The Verizon iPhone could fall under the category of Steve Jobs’ “One More Thing…” used at the end of his product announcement speeches.

Misek said he believes tiered data plans are imminent with most wireless carriers in the U.S., but his checks with industry sources indicate that a Verizon-capable iPhone would still carry an unlimited data plan. He also said that the new handset will run on both CDMA and GSM networks.

“Together with our semi-conductor partners, we have ascertained that there is a reasonable chance the Asian supply chain is prepping for mass production of a new iPhone in March, for availability in late Q2, likely June,” he said.

In addition, he predicted the new handset will have different pricing than Apple’s current model. However, he said, sources have not provided any details on prices.

Misek also stated that he expects Apple to release an LTE-capable “4GS” iPhone in June 2011.

Per Apple’s long-anticipated tablet, analyst Ashok Humar of Northeast Securities has stated that he believes the tablet will be available in a subsidized model through Verizon at launch.

Kumar has offered his thoughts as to the tablet’s specs, which he believes will be manufactured by Samsung and will be based on the Cortex-A8 ARM architecture, rather than the new Cortex-A9, with a speed of about 1GHz.

As for a Verizon-compatible iPhone, Kumar disagrees with Misek that the handset would be a world phone capable of both CDMA and GSM networks. Kumar has stated that dual-mode chips from Qualcomm will not likely see enough availability for a June iPhone launch. Instead, Kumar expects a separate CDMA-only phone to be introduced in 2010, alongside the existing GSM-only models.

Six days and we’ll see what’s what, homegeese. Six days.

iFixIt Posts Teardown Gallery, Video for White Unibody MacBook

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 22nd, 2009, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook

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On Tuesday, the ultimate nerds over at iFixIt published a full teardown gallery of Apple’s new white unibody MacBook laptop that is in turn replacing the low-end US$999 white polycarbonate MacBook notebook.

Some of the major changes include:

- Polycarbonate unibody construction.

- Display featuring LED backlighting.

- A multi-touch glass trackpad.

- Integrated battery.

- No more FireWire or IR port.

- No external battery indicator.

- No Mini-DVI port, replaced by a Mini DisplayPort.

iFixit has highlighted several interesting aspects of the new design:

-The new battery is only 5 more watt-hours than the previous version’s yet it adds two hours of run time, meaning the machine is markedly more efficient.

-The battery is actually lighter than the older model.

-Unlike the earlier model, AirPort and Bluetooth share the same board, and all three antenna cables route into the display, meaning a possible improvement in Bluetooth range.

-The MacBook has exactly the same GPU and CPU as the baseline 13″ MacBook Pro.

Since a picture’s worth quite a few words, take a gander at the video:



Head on over, take a gander and if you pick up a new unit for yourself, let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Apple Releases Magic Mouse, Says Goodbye to Mighty Mouse

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, 04:20
Category: Hardware, News

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If you weren’t sure what to make of Apple’s 2005 Mighty Mouse design, it’s not a concern anymore. Per Macworld, Apple left its 2005 Mighty Mouse design behind and introduced a wireless Magic Mouse that incorporates a multi-touch surface on its top side.

The new mouse, which ships standard with the new iMac models announced today, does more than let you right- and left-click. Users can use a single finger to scroll around in any direction in supported applications.

The Magic Mouse also supports swipe gestures, though not the same ones you’ll find in Apple’s multi-touch trackpads. Swiping left with two fingers in Safari will move you back a page, and in a stack of images in iPhoto, swiping left or right with two fingers will take you to the previous or next photo, respectively.

Users can still pick up a wired version of the Mighty Mouse (which has now been rebranded as the “Apple Mouse after the company lost its rights to use the “Mighty Mouse” trademark earlier this month). In addition, the Magic Mouse uses laser tracking instead of optical tracking to make it usable on different types of surfaces.

The Magic Mouse is powered by two AA batteries, and Apple says they’ll power the mouse for approximately four months. The device can detect when it’s not in use and manage power appropriately—a power switch on the bottom can turn it on or off.

In addition to being packaged with the new redesigned iMac, the Magic Mouse is available on its own for US$69. It requires Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later with Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0.

Apple Releases Unibody MacBook to Replace White MacBook Design

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Date: Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, 04:21
Category: Hardware, MacBook, News

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Apple Inc. on Tuesday announced an updated, unibody version to its low end MacBook notebook. The new model, available immediately, is still covered in white polycarbonate but features the same unibody construction and bright LED-backlit screens as Apple’s other laptops, as well as the same glass multi-touch trackpad found in the MacBook Pro line.

According to Macworld, the new 13.3″ MacBook still retails for US$999, but is powered by a 2.26GHz processor. It also features 2GB of 1066MHz RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics chip, and a 250GB hard drive.

The new notebook weighs in at 4.7 pounds compared to 5 pounds for the old design and now features a non-swappable battery. Apple says that will boost battery life for the MacBook to seven hours, up from five hours in the previous model; it also means users will have to pay US$129 for replacement batteries from Apple. As a result of the battery change, the bottom of the laptop has no feet—instead, the entire bottom surface is rubberized, save for eight screws.

The redesigned MacBook case introduces at least one other change from the previous model—the FireWire 400 port is gone and Apple’s MacBook Pro offerings are now the only Apple portables with FireWire ports.

If you want to vent your spleen about the new notebook, let us know in the comments.

Apple Releases Performance Update 1.0 Patch for Certain Macs

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Date: Thursday, October 15th, 2009, 03:46
Category: Hardware, Software

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Early Thursday, Apple released Performance Update 1.0, a firmware fix for Macs experiencing occasional hard drive stalls under the Mac OS X 10.5 and Mac OS X 10.6 operating systems.

The patch, a 300 kilobyte download available via Software Update, affects the following machines:

- MacBook Air (Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53GHz, Mid 2009)
- iMac (20-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009)
- MacBook (13-inch, Early 2009), MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009)
- MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008)
- iMac (24-inch, Early 2009)
- iMac (20-inch, Early 2009)
- Mac mini (Early 2009)

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or Mac OS X 10.6.1 (for the Snow Leopard version) to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update, please let us know how it worked in the comments.