Rumor: Mac OS X 10.7.3 beta references hint at upgraded Mac Pro units, improved video cards

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Date: Monday, December 5th, 2011, 07:20
Category: Hardware, Rumor, Software

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It’s the beta references that provide the best hints.

Per netkas.org, Apple’s Mac Pro may be getting a long awaited refresh according to hints tucked away in the most current Mac OS X 10.7.3 beta. The beta version of the OS update includes references to an ATI video card code named “Tahiti” tucked away in the ATIRadeonX3000 driver file, which would give a new Mac Pro model even more powerful graphics processing than current models.

The article stated that “Tahiti” is a code name for ATI’s next generation AMD-based video cards, and may be the upcoming high-performance 7900-series.

The Mac Pro was last updated in July 2010, making the current configuration well over a year old.

The long interval between updates has to reports claiming Apple is questioning whether or not to continue selling its pro-level tower computer, especially since processors like the Core i7 are available, and Thunderbolt ports offer a potential alternative to the Mac Pro’s built-in expansion slots.

Referencing new AMD video cards doesn’t, however, necessarily mean new Mac Pros are on the way. Apple could simply be adding support for the upcoming cards as a build-to-order option, or developers might be misinterpreting what the references in the driver files mean.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Perhaps the Greatest Thing Ever

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Date: Thursday, December 1st, 2011, 07:44
Category: Fun, Hack, Hardware

It’s unassailably cool, a perfect combination of cats, programmable Arduino circuitry, LEDs, Twitter and the shell from your old eMac. Per creator Samuel Cox, you too can develop an eSleeper, which turned a hollowed-out eMac into a bed for his feline. Inside the shell is an Arduino Ethernet connected to an IR sensor, some LEDs and a sound shield. When the cat breaks the infrared beam it triggers the iconic Mac chime and turns on a series color-shifting LEDs for a little mood lighting. From there the clock starts ticking.



When your gate decides it’s had enough napping and leaves the white plastic cocoon, tripping the IR sensor again, a random phrase is tweeted, along with the length of the cat’s siesta. Check out the video after the break to see the eSleeper in all its adorable DIY glory.

Check the link for full instructions as to how to build your own.

And you should, as it’ll give your cat one less reason to murder you for its own amusement.

Seagate announces 750GB Momentus XT hard drive, combines HDD, SSD features on same unit

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Date: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 08:11
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

This could smack of the nifty.

Per Engadget, hard drive manufacturer Seagate has released its 750GB Momentus XT, a hybrid HDD/SSD unit with a conventional 742GB hard drive attached to 8GB of NAND flash memory. The unit boosts a speedy SATA III 6Gb/s interface and promises to cut boot-up and lag times compared to a standard laptop hard disk, by gradually learning which of your files are popular enough to deserve a spot in that solid state VIP lounge. The unit retails for US$189 and includes a five-year warranty.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you happen to snag one, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Hitachi and Sony collaborating on unknown Apple iOS device, iPad 4 to receive new display connector technology

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Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 03:06
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per Macotakara.jp, Hitachi and Sony are reported to have teamed up to supply Apple with 4-inch LCD displays for an unspecified iOS device that will hit the market in 2012.

Citing sources within Apple’s Far Eastern supply chain, macotakara.jp claims that Hitachi Displays, Ltd. and Sony Mobile Display Corporation have begun shipments of 4-inch LCD panels to Apple for unspecified iOS device due next year.

The two companies are further reported to merge their business with Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd. to form “Japan Display” in 2012 spring.

The report arrives on the heels of claims last week that Sharp will also produce panels for the iPad 3 at its Kameyama No. 2 plant in central Japan; Apple typically sources its components from multiple partners.

A person familiar with the matter further claimed Apple has invested an unspecified amount in Sharp’s factories. The investment is believed to help support Sharp’s production capacity for IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) LCD panels for the next iPhone and iPad that will allow for thinner designs and improved battery performance.

The web site also cites the same sources as saying that an unspecified Taiwanese company will soon be “providing LCD technology faces” to Apple for a “fundamentally changed” iPad 4 that will be manufactured by a new process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked Intel documents present ideas for Thunderbolt-based docking components

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Date: Friday, November 25th, 2011, 12:39
Category: Hardware, News

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This could turn into something nifty.

Per VR-Zone, Intel is hoping to formalize a standard for docking on ultrabooks with Thunderbolt ports, leaked internal notes demonstrate. The implementation would combine the Thunderbolt port with a wider companion dock connector to handle other forms of data, such as Ethernet or USB, VR-Zone said. To keep the Ethernet connection alive for Intel’s vPro remote management or for Windows 8′s Connected Standby mode, however, the docking port would need to have direct access to the Ethernet chipset inside.

Intel also had suggestions for what the dock itself could have, including HDMI or Mini DisplayPort for video out, a USB hub, or even eSATA for fast external drives. Thunderbolt’s support for daisy chaining a total of six Thudnerbolt devices is an option, although it would require the widest bandwidth versions of Thunderbolt and may be rare.

Intel’s strategy would be primarily intended for business, where it’s expected that workers would dock the ultrabook at their desks and get an external display and desktop-like expansion with just one cable. It notably tries to downplay the use of USB 3.0, saying that the standard isn’t ideal for displays or certain kinds of links. Intel might have an economic incentive to discourage USB 3.0, however, since it can profit from its exclusivity on Thunderbolt controller chips where USB 3.0 is generic and won’t see Intel make much if any profit, even when its own hardware is in use.

Apple already has a form of Thunderbolt docking through its Thunderbolt Display and may end up having the superior option for simplicity: its lack of vPro lets it route audio, the display, Ethernet, FireWire, and USB through one cable. Intel’s approach would bring more of that experience to Windows users as well as provide some extras for the pro audience. Non-Mac systems with standard Thunderbolt aren’t due to show until at least early 2012, however, or roughly a year after Apple went first.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

PlugBug accessory simultaneously charges current Apple notebooks, iOS devices

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Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, 04:30
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod

This could be nifty.

Per Electronica, accessory developer Twelve South on Tuesday Tuesday unveiled a unique add-on to help Apple fans that travel with more than one device. PlugBug takes advantage of the changeable connector on a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro AC adapter to add a 10W USB charger. The add-on can charge anything up to the power levels of an iPad and is seen as a way to charge any iOS device or other USB hardware without having to remember all the cables or charge through the MacBook.

The adapter doesn’t have to slot into the AC brick to work and has a cap to cover the exposed area. Twelve South imagines it as a substitute for those outside of North America who want a converter.

The PlugBug is already on sale and ships for US$35 through the company’s own online store.

If you’ve snagged one or have a favorite charger of choice, please let us know and thanks.

Apple cites iPhone 4S, MacBook Air and Mac mini products as “Bluetooth Smart Ready”

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 11:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Mac mini, MacBook Air, News

No one ever said wireless communication with devices was a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s latest products, including the iPhone 4S and updated Mac mini and MacBook Air, are among a group of low-power Bluetooth devices now branded as “Bluetooth Smart Ready.”

Bluetooth Smart is a new brand extension given by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to devices that implement Bluetooth 4.0. Compatible devices include phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.

“Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready devices will revolutionize the way we collect, share and use information,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “In order to ensure consumers know what these extraordinary devices have to offer, we created the Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready marks. These new logos will help consumers manage compatibility, and encourage manufacturers to build their best Bluetooth devices yet.”

Bluetooth Smart devices are sensor-type devices like heart-rate monitors or pedometers. They run on button-cell batteries and were created to collect only a specific piece of information.

Bluetooth Smart Ready devices can connect to traditional Bluetooth devices, as well as new Bluetooth Smart devices that are just starting to enter the market. But Bluetooth Smart devices, because of their lower power consumption, will only connect with products labeled as Bluetooth Smart Ready.

Packages will now carry three potential logos created by the Bluetooth SIG to help consumers identify what their device offers, whether it be traditional Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, or Bluetooth Smart Ready.

“Consumers can look at new Bluetooth Smart Ready devices the same way they would a 3D ready TV — having the TV is just the first part of the puzzle, you need glasses and content in order to really experience 3D,” said Suke Jawanda, CMO of the Bluetooth SIG. “Once consumers have a Bluetooth Smart Ready device, like the new iPhone 4S, they can continue connecting to existing Bluetooth devices and are also ready to experience the new world of Bluetooth Smart peripheral devices that will carry the Bluetooth Smart logo.”

Bluetooth 4.0 support first appeared in Apple’s products in July, when the MacBook Air lineup and Mac mini were refreshed. Other Macs released this year — new iMacs and MacBook Pros — only support Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), but Bluetooth 4.0 also came to the new iPhone 4S released earlier this month.

Apple joined the Bluetooth SIG board of directors in June, and now takes part in overseeing the development of standards and licensing for the short-range wireless technology. When Apple joined, the special interest group said the iPhone maker would provide insight on platform development, as the company understands that technology is now driven by “hub devices” that capture data, utilize data at the application layer, and even upload it to the cloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple creating HDTV prototypes for late 2012 launch

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Date: Monday, October 24th, 2011, 08:08
Category: Hardware, News, Rumor

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Prior to his passing away, Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs stated that he wanted to capture the television market.

This might be the first step towards that goal.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray revealed in a note to investors on Monday that a source close to an Asian component supplier claimed in September that Apple was building prototype models of its rumored high-definition television set.

Munster has long been a believer that Apple will enter the television market, saying as far back as February 2009 that he believed the company was working on a major entrance into the living room. He sees Apple building an all-in-one, Internet-connected television set with access to the App Store and iTunes content.

If Apple were to launch a TV set in late 2012, he believes it would add about 3 percent to the company’s revenue in 2013. With a projected 220 million flat panel TVs to be sold in 2012, 48 percent, or 106 million, will be Internet-connected devices, and he sees Apple selling 1.4 million of those.

With the addition of iCloud and Siri voice control, Munster believes Apple is even more prepared to launch an HDTV in the coming years. With iCloud, users could access TV shows, pictures, and potentially moves, while Siri could “simplify the chore of inputting information like show titles, or actor names, into a TV.”

Munster also met with sources in Asia in January of this year, where he heard word that Apple is investing in manufacturing facilities and securing supply for LCD displays. The company is said to have invested in screen sizes of up to 50 inches for a potential television set.

Rumors of an Apple-built HDTV began to pick up steam once again last week, when it was revealed that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had “cracked’ the secret to building an integrated, easy-to-use television set. He said the device “will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Apple is currently in the set-top box market with its US$99 Apple TV, but the company has famously referred to its interest in that market as a “hobby.” The Apple TV allows users to purchase content from iTunes, while new features like wireless AirPlay mirroring have been added with recent software updates.

Stay tune for additional details as they become available and if you have any features you’d love to see on an Apple-branded HDTV, let us know what they might be in the comments.

Industrial designer Jonathan Ive left with additional power/privileges after Steve Jobs’ death

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Date: Friday, October 21st, 2011, 06:41
Category: Hardware, News

If you’re on your way out, leave someone behind to protect your ideals and legacy.

And if that person is less than conventional but has created some of the coolest industrial designs of the past 13 years, all the better.

Per the Associated Press, Apple’s widely praised design chief Jonathan Ive has no true boss who can tell him what to do at the company, a distinction put in place by Steve Jobs himself.

Information from the new biography of Jobs, set to arrive next week, continues to arrive, offering a glimpse into the highly private life of the Apple co-founder. The news wire obtained an early copy of the book, and shared some details on the relationship between Jobs and Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design.

In talking with author Walter Isaacson for the book, Jobs revealed that he viewed Ive as his “spiritual partner” at Apple. Showing his trust in Ive, the company co-founder left him more freedom than anyone else in the company — a perk that remains even after Jobs’s death.

“He told Isaacson that Ive had ‘more operational power’ at Apple than anyone else besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do,” the report said. “That, says Jobs, is ‘the way I set it up.’”

Ive and Jobs became close at Apple, working directly together on designing a number of the company’s core products, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Ive, a 44-year-old native of London, joined Apple in 1996 and has held his current job since 1997.

Showcasing their extensive work together, Jobs and Ive share credit for inventing over 200 patents. Jobs is responsible for the most total patents at the company, at 313.

A 2006 profile of Ive said that at the time he and his team worked in a large, secretive open studio that many Apple employees were not allowed to enter. There a “massive sound system” played music as he and his team worked with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment with “intense iteration.”

Ive has been heralded as one of the most influential designers of his time, and legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams publicly praised him in the 2009 documentary Objectified. In return for his design work at Apple, Ive has been well compensated, and is said to be worth more than US$128 million.

In 2009, Ive was declared the “smartest designer” in technology by Forbes. He was also honored with the title “Designer of the Year” in 2003 by Design Museum London, and was named “Royal Designer for Industry” by The Royal Society of Arts.

More details on the relationship between Ive and Jobs will be available in Isaacson’s book, arriving next week. Entitled “Steve Jobs,” will be available in a hardcover edition, as well as digitally through Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iBooks.

iFixit finishes teardown of Thunderbolt display, locates 2009 LG panel

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Date: Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News

When in doubt, count on someone geekier than you to dissect Apple’s newest hardware.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a full teardown of the screen has found.

The new display, powered by Apple and Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, was disassembled this week by iFixit. They found that the LG display is model number “LM270WQ1,” matching the previous iMac as well as the screen found in Dell’s competing UltraSharp U2711 27-inch monitor.

However, Apple’s display uses LED backlights for better picture quality and lower power consumption, as opposed to the cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) found on Dell’s screen. In addition, the Dell display is matte, while Apple’s is glossy.

The solutions provider also noted that Apple’s screen has a 12 millisecond response time and 17.7 million colors, while Dell’s competing panel offers an advertised 6 millisecond response time and 1.07 billion colors.

iFixit found that the glass front of the new Thunderbolt Display can be removed with “heavy duty suction cups,” just like with Apple’s iMac lineup. The LCD screen sports a resolution of 2,560-by-1,440 pixels.

“The fan is easily removed by simply detaching a couple of connectors and unfastening a few screws,” they said. “Apple has, as usual, chosen to go with a large, brushless fan to keep the colossal Thunderbolt Display cool and quiet.”

Inside the display, iFixit found a plethora of chips, causing them to remark that “it’s hard to believe there’s no computer inside.” The screen includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, 2.1 speaker system, integrated MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Some of the chips inside powering all of those features include:

- Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-to-USB 2.0 host controller

- L129NB11 EFL, which looks to be the Thunderbolt port controller

- Analog Devices ADAV4601 audio processor

- NXP LPC2144 USB 2.0 microcontroller

- Delta LFE9249 10/100/1000 Base-T LAN filter

- SMSC USB2517-JZX USB 2.0 hub controller

- Maxim MAX9736B Mono/Stereo high-power Class D amplifier

- LSI L-FW643E-2 open host controller interface

- Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit ethernet controller

- Supertex HV9982 3-channel switch-mode LED driver IC

The teardown also discovered that the speakers inside the Thunderbolt Display are 49 watts with a miniature subwoofer. In addition, the Flextronics power supply is said to provide 250 watts of maximum continuous power.

If you’ve snagged a new Thunderbolt display and have any feedback about it, please let us know in the comments.