Black Friday prices appear for Apple iOS-based devices

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Date: Friday, November 26th, 2010, 05:16
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPod, iPod Touch, retail

It’s begun.

Per the mighty AppleInsider and its iOS price guide, Apple is offering savings for the shopping holiday, though the company has sold out of its US$79.99 Apple TV deal and may be running low on its US$199 8GB iPod touch inventory.

iPods:
Meanwhile, Amazon.com is offering US$29 off the 8GB iPod touch. The online big-box reseller on Thursday held the best prices on the remained of Apple’s iPod line but has since raised its prices. As such, Apple’s Black Friday sale is extending the best discounts the rest of the iPod touches (up to US$51 off), as well as the iPod nano (up to US$21 off).

iPads:
Unfortunately, supply concerns have prompted Apple not to authorized resellers to take orders for the iPad online, so the product is not yet included in the price guide. Although iPads are listed on Amazon, they are priced above MSRP and sold online through other parties. Therefore, the best deals on iPads (US$41 off) come from Apple, in addition to the MiFi bundle deals offered by Verizon.

Stay tuned for additional Black Friday details as they become available and if you’ve heard of any good deals on your end, please let us know.

Apple, authorized resellers offer Black Friday savings on desktop Macs, notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 26th, 2010, 05:40
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

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Black Friday has begun and so have the discounts.

Per iPodNN, Apple is presently offering US$101 off certain Macs, albeit authorized resellers are offering up to $150 off white MacBooks, $270 off MacBook Pros, $180 off iMacs, $130 off MacBook Airs and $100 off Mac minis.

Apple’s Black Friday sale offers US$101 off MacBook Pros, iMacs and 13-inch MacBook Airs, in addition to US$41 off iPads, up to US$21 off iPod nanos, and up to US$41 off iPod touches, plus a handful of accessory deals. In every case but the iPad, however, resellers have well undercut Apple, as can be seen in AppleInsider’s Mac Pricing Guide, below.

White 13-inch MacBooks:
For its part, MacConnection (Black Friday sale) maintains the lowest price on the sole white MacBook, blowing out units at US$849.99 (a US$149 discount).

MacBook Airs:
Long-time reseller MacMall has teamed up with AppleInsider to offer its readers an additional, exclusive 2% discount off Apple’s new family of MacBook Airs when using the links in this article or the price guide. Unlike MacConnection, whose deals are tied to mail-in-rebates, MacMall’s Black Friday savings all run off instant discounts, meaning the prices you see on the reseller’s website are the prices you pay, no rebates needed.

The exclusive coupons on the Airs bring the bringing the 1.40GHz 11″ MacBook Air 64GB to US$929.04 (US$70 savings), the 1.40GHz 11″ MacBook Air 128GB to US$1,116.22 (US$83 savings), the 1.86GHz 13″ MacBook Air 128GB to US$1,174.04 (US$125 savings), and the 1.86GHz 13″ MacBook Air 256GB to US$1,468.04 (US$131 savings).

MacBook Pros:
For MacBook Pros, MacConnection continues to extend the best deals across the board with its mail-in-rebates. Among the standouts are the 2.66GHz 13″ MacBook Pro for US$1,299 (US$200 savings), the 2.4GHz 15″ MacBook Pro for US$1,599 (US$200 savings), the 2.53GHz 15″ MacBook Pro for US$1,579 (US$240 savings), and the 2.53GHz 17″ MacBook Pro for US$2,029 (US$270 savings).

iMacs:
MacConnection is also offering the 3.06GHz 21.5″ iMac for US$1,049.00 (US$150 savings), the 3.20GHz 21.5″ iMac for US$1,349 (US$150 savings), the 3.20GHz 27.0″ iMac for US$1,529 (US$170 savings), and the 2.80GHz 27.0″ iMac quad-core for US$1,819.00 (US$180 savings).

Mac minis:
MacConnection is also offering the 2.40GHz Mac mini for US$599 (US$100 savings), with a strict limit of 1 per customer. Amazon, however, has matched the US$599 pricing without imposing a limit. For the 2.66GHz Mac mini Server, MacMall, Amazon, and B&H Photo have the lowest pricing at US$954 (US$45 savings).

Mac Pros:
When it comes to Mac Pros, a handful of resellers are offering similar pricing on the 2.80GHz 4-Core and 2.40GHz 8-Core models. For its part, MacMall has taken US$400 off the high-end 2.66GHz 12-Core Mac Pro

It should also be noted the both MacConnection and MacMall are offering free shipping and free printers with each Mac purchase. MacMall is also offering a free copy of Parallels Desktop 6 with each Mac purchase. Both offers are tied to rebates.

If you’ve seen any memorable Black Friday Mac deals in your area, please let us know.

Apple may be relaxing liquid/spill-damage repair policies

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 11th, 2010, 05:41
Category: Hardware, News

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A series of internal policy documents leaked to Boy Genius Report shows that Apple may be amending its liquid damage repair policy. Apple’s mobile devices, which currently come with small Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI) patches that react and change color when in contact with water, uses the color change to determine whether a device has been submerged in water before honoring warranty claims for the devices. This policy has resulted in some controversy, with some people claiming the LCIs are changing color in conditions of high humidity or are otherwise changing color without having been in contact with liquids.

Though previously Apple employees would just inspect the patches, the new policies apparently will grant more leeway and also require the employees to look for additional signs of liquid damage before determining that liquid contact was the cause for the device malfunction. This change does relax some of the return and replacement rules for iPods, and may make it easier for Apple employees to swap out devices for users; however, the document does note that the final determination of damage is still up to the Apple Store employees.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Light Peak could arrive for the Mac in early 2011

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Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 05:10
Category: Hardware, News

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Intel’s Light Peak optical cabling technology is on track to make its first appearance in products in early 2011, with Apple expected to follow soon after, according to a new report.

Per CNET, Apple has expressed a very strong interest in Light Peak after Intel approached them with it several years ago. According to sources, Apple Chief Steve Jobs and Intel CEO Paul Otellini allegedly fleshed out the Light Peak standard after Apple intimated that it was looking into optical signaling as a single port solution.

Light Peak, as we’ve outlined before, is a high-speed optical cable technology with bandwidth of 10Gbps, with the possibility of scaling up to 100Gbps in the future. A full-length Blu-Ray movie could transfer over Light Peak in less than 30 seconds, Intel states on its website. The company “expects to see Light Peak in PCs and peripherals in 2011.”

Per the report, sources claim that Light Peak will make its debut in the first half of 2011, and “likely earlier in the year than later.” Apple, which is described as an “innovating force in the industry,” is expected to incorporate Light Peak quickly after its release.

Early versions of the technology have already been tested on Macs. In 2009, “an Intel demonstration at its developer conference used a machine running Apple’s Mac OS X,” wrote author Brooke Crothers.

Optical cabling would provide Apple an alternative to USB 3.0. Though the Cupertino, Calif., company was rumored to be adding USB 3.0 to its Mac Pro and iMac desktops this summer, the updates failed to materialize. Apple has had the USB 3.0 specification for almost a year and a half. Intel has also resisted adopting USB 3.0, holding off on supporting the standard in its chipsets, despite one Intel spokesperson assuring that Intel remains “absolutely committed to USB 3.0 and beyond that.”

A continued Apple/Intel partnership for Light Peak would make mainstream adoption of the technology highly likely. Intel has the reach needed to drive costs down, and Apple is willing to take risks with new standards. Intel may also be looking to work with Apple to develop a mobile version of Light Peak, which would help it break into the mobile space, where Intel’s Atom processors have struggled for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jobs states Apple won’t support USB 3.0 in the near term via e-mail reply

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:48
Category: Hardware, News

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It’s hard to say exactly what Steve Jobs will do next, so this may have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Per Tech2.0, a recent Steve Jobs e-mail sent as a reply to Mac user Tom Kruk stated that Apple has no plans to add USB 3.0 connectivity to Macs any day soon.

In the e-mail, Jobs allegedly wrote: “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Mac users will be missing out, for now at least. Following tests, the speed benefits of USB 3.0 are clear, particularly for high-definition video, music, and digital imaging applications. USB 3.0 offers a theoretical 10X jump over current USB 2.0 hardware, which maxes out at 480Mbps. USB 3.0, in contrast, can handle up to 5Gbps.

Intel is expected to roll out USB 3.0 sometime in 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Teardown of late-2010 MacBook Air finds six battery cells, other new features

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 22nd, 2010, 06:42
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

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Ok, now this is interesting.

True to form, the cool cats at iFixit performed a complete teardown of Apple’s newest instant-on, 11.6″ MacBook Air and found now less than six separate lithium-polymer battery cells.

The internal components are slightly different from those found in the 13.3″ model, a prototype of which was spotted before the device was even revealed on Wednesday. That larger MacBook Air has four separate batteries, which are bigger and provide up to 7 hours of active battery life.



In its teardown, the solutions provider found that the onboard 64GB of flash storage easily disconnects from the logic board, but the part is completely custom, meaning an off-the shelf part cannot be used to replace it.

The unique 64GB of onboard memory is made up of six main chips (four 16GB flash memory chips and a solid state drive controller from Toshiba), and a Micron OKA17 D9HSJ DDR DRAM cache. The proprietary solid state drive is just 2.45 mm thick and weighs 10 grams, while the previous MacBook Air’s hard disk drive was 5.12 mm thick and weighed 45 grams.

The new MacBook Air also uses the same Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip found on the current MacBook Pros. However, to fit into the tiny frame of the MacBook Air, it comes in a different form factor.

All of the cooling of the new notebook is accomplished with a single, small internal fan. Ribbon cable connection points found inside were also discovered to have epoxy on them that acts as an insulator, perhaps to prevent issues if their protective plastic wears out over time.

Included on the logic board are the MacBook Air’s Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz processor, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, and 2GB of Elpida J1108EFBG RAM. Just as with MacBook Air models, the RAM is soldered to the logic board, making it non-upgradable.

If you’ve picked up the new MacBook Air and have any impressions of it, let us know.

Media Event: Apple releases updated MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Aperture 3.1, iLife ’11, Pro Kit refinements and FaceTime for Mac OS X

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 19:05
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Proving good on a good numbers of the rumors surrounding the event, Apple offered a slew of goodies at its October 20th announcements including an updated MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air and a slew of software goodies.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple surprised its audience by releasing a faster build-to-order MacBook Pro. For an additional US$200, customers can upgrade the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro to a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor from a 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 chip. The same upgrade is also available for the sole 2.53GHz 17-inch model for a US$400 premium. An upgrade on that model to a 2.66GHz Core i7 remains, priced at US$200.

In addition, Apple on Wednesday released a number of software updates related to the release of the new MacBook Air models, as well as the iLife ’11 suite. Those who pick up the newly released MacBook Air have Software Update 1.0, a 368KB download available via Mac OS X’s Software Update function, already available for them.

The update resolves an issue where the system becomes unresponsive while playing a movie trailer in iMovie. It also fixes a problem where the system becomes unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display is connected. It is recommended for all late-2010 MacBook Air models.

During the event, Apple also released Aperture 3.1, a 357.55MB download that improves overall stability and performance, and also addresses compatibility with the newly release iLife ’11 suite.

Fixes and changes include the following:
- Performance when opening large libraries.

- Performance when exporting heavily-adjusted images.

- Importing iPhoto Libraries.

- Relinking to referenced images after importing an iPhoto Library.

- Importing photos and videos from iPhone or iPad.

- Upgrading libraries with images containing Spot & Patch adjustments.

- Duplicate detection of audio and video files.

- Face detection on RAW+JPEG pairs.

- Rendering of thumbnails used in Faces view.

- Rendering of images scaled to below 100% in Viewer.

- Image quality on straightened images.

- Applying Red Eye correction.

- Rendering thumbnails when reprocessing masters.

- Searching libraries containing a large number of keywords.

- Applying photos to GPS track paths.

- Export of GPS data when using Export Metadata command.

- Handling of color profiles in Print dialog when using Loupe.

- Applying and removing slideshow Photo Effects.

- Slideshows containing video clips.

- Tethered capture.

- Library database reliability.

- Library repair.

- Updating vaults.

During the media event, Apple also issued ProKit 6.0 for Snow Leopard. The 13.5MB downloadadds the following fixes and changes to Apple’s professional applications:
- Improves reliability for browsing iPhoto libraries in Aperture.

- Addresses cosmetic issue with appearance of disclosure triangles in Aperture.

- Fixes a problem in Logic Pro and MainStage where numeric parameters display incorrect information.

The update is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express, Soundtrack, Logic Studio, Logic Pro, MainStage, WaveBurner and Logic Express.

The highlight of the event came when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the new MacBook Air, which Jobs came after the company asked itself “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” The company then announced the release two new MacBook Airs with 11.6″ and 13.3″ screens, instant-on capabilities, starting at just $999 which are now available.

The new MacBook Air has no optical drive and no hard drive, which allows instant-on capabilities. The MacBook Air has memory up to two times faster that is more reliable and 90% smaller and lighter, Jobs said.

Both models feature a forward-facing FaceTime camera, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics.

The new 13″ model boasts a 7 hour of battery life with 30 days of standby time and features a full-size keyboard and a full-size glass trackpad as well. The 13.3″ display is 1440-by-900 pixels, and the model weighs just 2.9 pounds.

The larger model starts at US$1,299 for 128GB of storage with a 1.86GHZ processor. Doubling the storage to 256GB is US$1,599.

The 11″ model has a display resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It’s just as thin, but is even lighter, at just 2.3 pounds.

The low-end model has a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo and 64GB of storage for US$999. a higher-end model with a 128GB drive retails for US$1,199.

Memory, rather than being enclosed in a solid state drive, is situated directly on the motherboard, allowing Apple to save space within the notebook. Jobs showed the inside of the MacBook Air, demonstrating that most of the space inside is used for the batteries.

The new MacBook Air measures an incredibly thin 0.11″ at its thinnest point and 0.68″ at its thickest, and weighs just 2.3 pounds for the 11″ model and 2.9 pounds for the 13″. Like the iPad, MacBook Air was designed from the ground up to use flash storage exclusively.

Along with the full-sized keyboard, as well as the standard Multi-Touch trackpad found on Apple’s MacBook Pro, the unit also include built-in FaceTime camera for communication with iOS-based devices as well as other Macs.

Full specs include the following:
Size and weight
Height: 0.11-0.68 inch (0.3-1.7 cm)
Width: 11.8″ (29.95 cm)
Depth: 7.56″ (19.2 cm)
Weight: 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg)

Processor and memory:
- 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache; or optional 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB shared L2 cache.

- 800MHz frontside bus.

- 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM onboard (4GB maximum).

Storage:
- 64GB

- 128GB

Display:
11.6″ (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors

Supported resolutions:
1366 by 768 (native), 1344 by 756, 1280 by 720, 1024 by 576 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio

Graphics and video support:
- Mini DisplayPort

- Pure digital video output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- HDMI output using a third-party Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (sold separately)

- NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main
memory

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors

- FaceTime camera

Keyboard and trackpad:
- Full-size keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted “T” arrangement)

- Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports inertial scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities

Peripheral connections:
- USB 2.0

- Mini DisplayPort

- MagSafe

- USB 2.0

- Headphone

- Microphone

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Omnidirectional microphone

- Headphone minijack

- Support for Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic

Communications:
- AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking4 (based on IEEE 802.11n specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology

- Apple USB Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

Battery and power:
- Built-in 35-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 45W MagSafe power adapter with cable management system

- MagSafe power port

Environmental:
Per Apple, the MacBook Air achieves EPEAT Gold status and meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements. Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Pricing & Availability:

The 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air are immediately available through the Apple Store at apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

The 1.4 GHz 11-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $999 (US) with a 128GB model for US$1,199 (US).

The 1.86 GHz 13-inch MacBook Air with 2GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starts at a suggested retail price of $1,299 (US) with a 256GB model for US$1,599 (US).

Configure-to-order options and accessories include faster processors, 4GB of memory, MacBook Air SuperDrive and a USB Ethernet Adapter.

Apple discussion board headings confirm update iLife, MacBook Air products

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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.