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Rumor: Retina Display production for iPad mini to begin in June/July, LG to be primary supplier for screens

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Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 06:47
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

The facts are trickling in slowly but steadily, even though we’re still in rumor territory…

Per CNET and The Mac Observer, Apple will start up production on the Retina Display version of the iPad mini in June or July, according to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim. He also said the displays for the new iPad mini will come from LG and not Samsung.

“Samsung is currently not in the iPad Mini and they won’t be in the next generation. LGD is becoming a much bigger supplier than before,” Mr. Shim told CNET.

He said the new model will sport a 2048 x 1536 resolution 7.9-inch display, which is on par with the iPhone 5’s resolution. That also puts the display at the high end of what our eye can discern for resolution improvements.

“We’re going to start to see a bunch of tablets with a pixel density over 300,” he said. “At a certain point it will be hard to discern that improved image quality.”

If so, a June production window would accommodate a September Retina Display iPad mini product launch, which probably aligns with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comment that there won’t be any big product announcements until fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Retina Display for second-gen iPad mini looking more likely, NPD DisplaySearch cited

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Date: Monday, May 6th, 2013, 06:09
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, News

It looks like the rumor is coming closer to fruition.

Per CNET, Apple’s iPad Mini will get a refresh in the third quarter with a Retina display, NPD DisplaySearch predicted late Sunday.

This is an update to information that DisplaySearch provided earlier Sunday.
“We see two refreshes coming. One in the second half of this year, then one in Q1 [first quarter] of 2014,” analyst Richard Shim stated late Sunday night.

“The Q1 [2014] device will have a Retina display plus an updated processor,” Shim added.

Earlier Sunday night, NPD stated that the first iPad Mini with a Retina display would appear in the first quarter of 2014. That will actually be the second refresh, according to NPD’s updated prediction.

It’s not clear yet which display technology will be used. One of the candidates is LTPS, or low-temperature polysilicon — the same technology used in the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple adds 256, 512 GB Flash drive options as build-to-order options for iMac

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Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 07:40
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, News

It’s pricey, but it’s a useful option.

Per MacRumors, Apple has added new storage options to its iMac lineup, allowing users to choose either a 256 GB or 512 GB flash storage drive as part of the order customization process. The new options are available as US$300 and US$600 surcharges respectively to replace the 1 TB traditional hard drive that is standard across all iMac models.

Previously, the 21.5-inch iMac had not been available with dedicated flash storage options, only offering the standard 1 TB traditional hard drive and a US$250 Fusion Drive option. Apple’s Fusion Drive marries a 128 GB flash drive with a 1 TB traditional hard drive to seamlessly provide fast access to most-used files while also offering relatively cheap mass storage for the remainder of the user’s storage needs. Those options remain available, but for those looking for an all-flash storage solution, Apple is now offering that in 256 and 512 GB capacities.

For the 27-inch iMac, Apple did previously offer an all-flash storage solution, but only as a 768 GB drive carrying a US$900 upgrade fee. The 27-inch iMac is also available with 1 TB and 3 TB traditional hard drive options, with each of those also available in a Fusion Drive configuration. But with the addition of 256 GB and 512 GB flash options, Apple is now offering users who do not need massive amounts of storage the ability to maximize speed on their machines.

If you have a Mac with a Fusion drive and want to throw in your two cents as to how its performance has been, please let us know in the comments.

Intel details specs for upcoming i7 “Haswell” processor

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Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 06:59
Category: Hardware, News, Processors


The next-gen stuff always looks pretty sexy…

Per AppleInsider and Engadget, a document released on Wednesday sheds some light on Intel’s forthcoming Core i7 processors, which will boast new integrated graphics silicon that promises to double or even triple performance compared to existing models.

Alongside a new iteration of the “Intel HD Graphics” series, dubbed HD 5000, Intel is introducing the “Iris” and “Iris Pro” tiers to its graphics lineup with Haswell, effectively creating a three-tier system for its upcoming Core i7 offerings. Apple is expected to use products from the newest family of processors when the company refreshes its Mac lineup later this year.

As is the case with every new generation of CPUs, there will be an across the board performance boost with the fourth-generation Core i7 chips. However, while previous generational changes brought only slight gains to Intel’s respective Ultrabook, notebook and desktop class lineups, Iris and Iris Pro will enjoy huge gains, in some cases showing threefold improvements.

The options start out with HD 5000 for 15W TDP (Thermal Design Power) U-series chips, and move to the new Iris graphics with 28W U-series silicon. Iris Pro, which uses embedded DRAM instead of shared system memory, promises to double the speed of current 47-55W H-series laptop processors. Most intriguing is a tripling in 3D rendering speeds for 65-84W R-series desktop CPUs.

According to Intel’s documentation, Iris Pro will also be available on certain M-series laptop and K-series desktop chips.

The 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air currently uses two U-series chips — a 17W dual-core Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor in its standard configuration and an optional Core i7 version. Apple uses M-series Core i5 and i7 chips for its MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro with Retina Display products.

Intel also detailed the three tiers’ feature sets, which support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4 and OpenCL 1.2. Display modes include “enhanced” 4K and 2K output and a 3-screen collage, which looks to eschew the need for a discrete graphics card for multi-panel setups.

Full specs, including those pertaining to non-graphics processing performance, are slated to be revealed , one day prior to the Computex Taipei trade show.

Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Accessory, Hardware, News

It took over a year following its announcement to get here, but it’s finally on the market.

Per AppleInsider, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for US$299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
– One Gigabit Ethernet port

– One Firewire 800 port

– One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices

– One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack

– One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack

– Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

– Cable management channel


The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year’s worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.

If you’ve ordered a Thunderbolt Express Dock and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to debut updated MacBook models at this year’s WWDC

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Date: Monday, April 29th, 2013, 06:03
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

If there’s one new-ish rule of the universe, it’s that Apple chooses when it gets to hold its dog and pony shows.

And the next one might be during the Worldwide Developers Conference this June.

Per AppleInsider, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes Apple will showcase updated MacBook Pro models at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference in June, with the most notable upgrade being the move to Intel’s next-generation Haswell family of processors.

Kuo, who has a reliable track record in predicting Apple’s product plans, said in a research note that while the Cupertino company is likely to bump its current MacBook lineup to Intel’s latest platform, speculated upgrades like a MacBook Air with Retina display are unlikely.

While no major design changes are thought to be in store for WWDC, Kuo now thinks Apple will keep the optical drive-toting MacBook Pro alive alongside the company’s most advanced MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air models. The analyst previously forecast Apple would retire the line as it moved to all-Retina product offerings.

“There is still demand in emerging markets, where Internet penetration isn’t advanced, for optical disk drives,” he said of the 13- and 15-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro. Apple’s top-tier MacBook lineup eschewed the previous built-in SuperDrive in a bid to slim down the chassis and cut weight.

For the consumer market, Kuo said the biggest change to the MacBook lineup in 2013 will be the introduction of Intel’s Haswell processor, which replaces the Ivy Bridge architecture currently used in the company’s computers. Intel recently announced that Haswell will be unveiled on June 3, one day prior to the Computex Taipei trade show.

Kuo believes the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will begin shipping by the end of the second quarter, close to the forecasted WWDC launch, while the MacBook Pro with Retina display will see release later in the year due to low yield of the notebook’s high-resolution panels.

Apple has traditionally used WWDC as an opportunity to launch innovative new products, with last year’s event seeing the debut of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

WWDC 2013 is scheduled to run from June 10 through 14 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Tickets to the conference sold out in less than two minutes, breaking the previous record of about two hours.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s Tim Cook dismisses larger screen rumors for iPhone, cites trade-offs

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Date: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 06:10
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

It’s the post-event questions that get interesting.

Per iMore, asked during today’s Q2 2013 fiscal results conference call as to whether or not Apple’s and CEO Tim Cook’s disinclination towards larger screens has changed, Cook said that there are a number of trade-offs that have come with larger screens. He said that Apple’s own research has revealed while some customers obviously place value on larger screen sizes (those giant Samsung, LG, and HTC phones wouldn’t be selling otherwise), others value resolution, color quality, brightness, portability, and app compatibility. He said that “our competitors have made significant trade-offs in many of these areas” and that Apple would not launch a larger-screen iPhone while these trade-offs exist.

It’s worth taking into consideration that Apple said similar things running up to the launch of the iPhone 5 and its larger screen, and Cook said as recently as the last quarter that he’s happy with the 4-inch screen. It’s also worth nothing that while Cook says he believes the iPhone 5 has “the absolute best display in the industry”, the advent of 1080p smartphone screens has obviated some of his stated advantages such as resolution.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Purported images of next-gen iPhone camera leaked

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Date: Friday, April 19th, 2013, 07:50
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You’ve gotta admit, Apple doesn’t let people down when it comes to its built-in cameras.

Per French Web site NoWhereElse.fr, a leaked image purporting to show off a camera component and another piece of a supposed “iPhone 5S” have hit the Internet, fanning the rumors that Apple’s follow-up to the iPhone 5 is on deck.

One of the components featured in the supposed leak is what appears to be a front-facing camera, similar in appearance to the one built in to the iPhone 5. The serial number shown on the “leaked” part is similar to the one seen on the iPhone 5 part, notes NoWhereElse.fr. The flexible portion where the component connects to a motherboard, though, is apparently quite different from the one seen on the iPhone 5 component.


Friday’s report also brought images of another supposed component, though its function is unclear.

The same site previously leaked components that went into Apple’s new Lightning connector, and the site has shown off other parts said to be from an “iPhone 5S” or an “iPhone 6,” as well as a supposed cover glass surface from a fifth-generation iPad.

The new images appear to add to the rumors that Apple will bring a rapid follow-up to its iPhone 5, iPad, and iPad mini, and possibly introduce a lower-cost iPhone model in the near future. Currently, rumors have the Cupertino company releasing new devices some time over the summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft’s Xbox, Kinect employees helping to develop smartwatch

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Date: Friday, April 19th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, Rumor


Microsoft is prototyping its own wrist-worn device. According to The Verge, a reliable source familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans has revealed that the company has been developing a wrist-worn device for just over a year. Microsoft was initially rumored to release a “Joule” heart rate monitor accessory for the Xbox, but the company has since decided to focus on a smartwatch instead. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Microsoft’s plans earlier this week, citing unnamed supply chain sources who claim Microsoft has requested 1.5-inch displays from component manufacturers.

Microsoft’s smartwatch is said to be in the prototype phase, with teams who have worked on Xbox accessories and the Kinect sensor focused on the device. The device apparently features removable bands attached to a 1.5-inch touch display. One prototype includes the same magnetic power connector that Microsoft uses on its Surface tablets. The MagSafe-like connector is made up of five pins and can transmit both power and data, but we’re told this is only a prototype and a final design may omit the connector.

Microsoft previously fielded a range of smartwatches back in 2004 under the SPOT brand. The devices used FM radio signals to obtain news, weather forecasts, and stock information. Microsoft discontinued the devices in 2008, shuttering the service fully last year. Microsoft’s Bill Buxton recently outlined the 37-year history of smartwatches at a talk during the company’s TechFest research event. At the time, we speculated Microsoft may re-enter a market it tried to kickstart years ago, and it looks like that may soon be a reality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPad to be 15% thinner, 25% lighter, use smaller, more efficient battery

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Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013, 07:14
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could be nifty.

Per MacRumors, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has on a number of occasions offered accurate information on Apple’s product plans, recently published a new research note outlining his expectations for Apple’s fifth-generation iPad. Kuo expects mass production and shipments of the new iPad to ramp up in the August-September timeframe, with the device registering roughly 15% thinner and 25% lighter than the current full-size iPad.

The new version’s expected dimensions, which are purported to be 7.5-8.0mm thick, will be 15% thinner than iPad 4. The new device will likely be about 500 grams, or some 25% lighter than iPad 4, run on an A7X processor, and sport cameras with similar specs to the iPad 4’s (front HD, rear 5MP). The casing shape and color (silver and black) and narrow bezel design will be similar to the iPad mini’s.

The prediction of a 7.5-8.0 mm thickness is in line with previous claims that the next iPad will see a roughly 2 mm reduction from the current 9.5 mm thickness.

Kuo predicts that Apple will adopt the same GF2 touch technology used in the iPad mini, enabling Apple to design a thinner display for the new full-size iPad. In addition, more efficient display and chip technologies are expected to bring down the device’s overall power consumption, allowing for a smaller and thinner battery.

The battery is expected to be 25-30% smaller, at 8,500-9,000mAh, than the iPad 4’s, and the battery’s thickness will be 15-20% smaller, at 7.5-8.0mm, and the number of cells will be reduced to two from three.

As for the chip powering the iPad 5, Kuo believes that Apple will be sticking with Samsung for a new A7X chip that will take advantage of Samsung’s 28-nanometer process node. There have been reports that Apple will be shifting its A-series chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but it appears that Kuo believes that transition has a bit further time horizon, in line with rumors that a partnership between Apple and TSMC for 20-nanometer A7 chips will not begin production until early 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.