iFixIt performs teardown of 2011 Mac mini, finds room for second hard drive

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 04:32
Category: Mac mini, News

A teardown of Apple’s just-released Mac Mini reveals a similar design to the previous generation, though with the addition of the new processor, Thunderbolt controller and Bluetooth 4.0, while the company’s decision to remove the optical drive made room for a second storage drive.

Apple released the latest version of the Mac Mini on Wednesday, adding next-generation Intel processors, improved graphics for up to twice the performance, and the high-speed Thunderbolt port. The company also released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, new MacBook Airs and a Thunderbolt LED Cinema Display.

Per AppleInsider, the cool cats at iFixit have taken apart the 2.3GHz Core i5 version of the new 2011 Mac mini, noting that the innards “look rather identical to the previous model.”

As is often the case with the company, Apple has given and taken away. This time around, the Mac maker has made the controversial decision to remove the optical drive. But, with the centimeter and a half of extra space gained, the company has made room for a second hard drive or solid state drive.

iFixIt suggests that users may be able to install a second hard drive by themselves, with the only deterrent being “the availability of a second SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable.” Apple does offer dual hard drive build-to-order options for its more expensive 2.5GHz i5 model and the quad-core 2.0GHz i7 server version comes standard with two 500GB HDDs, but iFixit’s teardown appears to show that users can add a second drive to the low-end model on their own.

According to the report, the Mac Mini utilizes a similar Thunderbolt port controller to that found in the Early 2011 iMac. The desktop also contains the same Bluetooth 4.0 chip as the one discovered in the MacBook Air earlier on Thursday.

The Mac Mini received a notable repairability score of 8 out of 10; the desktop contains no proprietary screws, nor does it use any glue that needs to be removed. The report found upgrades to the RAM and hard drive to be an easy task. Removing the power supply does take some more work, however, as all of the internals must be removed first.

Benchmarks for the new Mac Mini reveal that the new models are “absolute screamers,” with the top of the line units running roughly twice as fast as last year’s models.

If you’ve snagged the new Mac mini and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Apple posts $7.31 billion profit for third quarter

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Date: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 13:44
Category: Finance, News

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A combination of record iPhone and iPad sales combined with continued growth of its Mac business pushed Apple to reported sales of US$28.57 billion and net profit of US$7.31 billion for the three-month period ended June 25, 2011.

Per Macworld, the sales and profit figures—both quarterly records—increased last year’s third-quarter performance by 82 percent and 125 percent, respectively. Apple reported earnings of US$7.79 per share, which beat analyst estimates of $5.85. Analysts had also been looking for Apple to reach US$24.92 billion in sales for the quarter—a figure the company topped by nearly US$4 billion.

“We are extremely pleased with the momentum of our business,” chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer told analysts during a conference call to discuss the earnings report on Tuesday. Oppenheimer noted that during its 2011 fiscal year, Apple has recorded US$35 billion in year-over-year revenue growth and US$9.5 billion in year-over-year earnings growth—increases of 78 percent and 99 percent, respectively.

Apple says it sold 20.34 million iPhones during the just-completed quarter, a 142 percent increase from the phones it sold during the same period last year. That’s also the most phones Apple has ever sold during a quarter, topping the 18.65 million mark set just three months ago.

The iPhone racked up strong sales despite Apple skipping its customary summer introduction of a new model, after releasing the iPhone 4 in the summer of 2010 and the iPhone 3GS the summer before that. The last new iPhone released by Apple was a CDMA version of the smartphone compatible with Verizon’s wireless network; that model came out in February. The long-awaited white version of the iPhone also shipped in April.

Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the third quarter, the first full quarter of sales for the iPad 2, which arrived in March. Apple says its iPad sales topped last year’s figures by 183 percent. It also set a new record for quarterly iPad sales, besting the previous mark of 7.3 million during the 2010 holiday shopping season.

Mac sales rose 14 percent from last year, with Apple selling 3.95 million computers. That’s a record for the third quarter, Oppenheimer said. Growth of Mac sales also outpaced market-research firm IDC’s forecasted PC market growth by more than four times, Apple pointed out.

The quarter saw Apple introduce new iMacs with quad-core processors, improved graphics, and Thunderbolt connectivity. All told, Apple sold 1.15 million desktops, accounting for about 30 percent of the Macs sold during the quater. The company sold 2.79 million portable Macs during the quarter, with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air driving those sales, according to Oppenheimer.

iPod sales continued to decline from the heights of previous years. Apple says it sold 7.54 million iPods, a 20 percent drop from last year, though Oppenheimer said that was above the company’s expectations. The iPod touch accounts for about half of all iPods sold, according to Apple’s figures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst notes possible “iPhone 4S” in September, iPad 3 prototype for early 2012

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Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

In non-software-update-esque news, a second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to downplay rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.

Per AppleInsider, pointing to “recent Apple supply chain checks,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company’s fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers “like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision,” each of which are indicating “a late September or early October” manufacturing ramp for the handset.

In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name “N94″ and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name “iPhone 4S,” which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Berger, added that his sources “see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been “evaluating various touchscreen displays” for its third-generation iPad.

Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company’s progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won’t be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.

“This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world,” the analyst wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases 14.1.2 update for Office 2011, 12.3.0 update for Office 2008

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Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 03:06
Category: News, Software

On Monday afternoon, Microsoft released version 14.1.2 of its popular Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac suite. The update, a 109 megabyte download, can also be located, snagged and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate program, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update fixes critical issues and also helps to improve security. It includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

In an updated security bulletin, the company admitted that a “specially crafted” Excel file could allow unwanted access, thus leading to the updates.

Microsoft Office 2011 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is available for US$149.99 and up depending on the suite purchased.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

In other news, Microsoft also released version 12.3.0 of its Office 2008 suite for Mac. The update, a 333 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Improves stability. In addition, it includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and
Microsoft Office 2008 with Service Pack 1. The update can, of course, be located and installed with the Microsoft AutoUpdate tool.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any comments, let us know in the comments or feedback section.

Apple launches MacBook bottom case replacement program for Unibody MacBooks shipped between October, 2009 and April, 2011

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Date: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011, 04:27
Category: MacBook, News

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Over the past couple days, Apple has initiated a case replacement program for MacBooks shipped between October 2009 and April 2011 to resolve an issue where the rubber separates from the bottom of the case.

Per AppleInsider, the MacBook Bottom Case Replacement Program is available to owners with affected MacBooks, regardless of current warranty status.

Apple offers three options for replacing the case: set up an appointment with an Apple Genius and visit an Apple Retail Store; visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider; and self service by ordering a replacement case kit online. Do It Yourself kits include a new bottom case, screws, a Phillips head screwdriver and instructions for removal of the old case and installation of the new one.

Customers who have paid for a repair or replacement because of the issue can also contact Apple regarding a refund. The note advises that no action is required for owners who aren’t currently experiencing the issue.

The program will be offered worldwide and will cover affected MacBooks for two years from the original purchase date, though it does not extend standard warranty coverage. Further extensions of the program may come as Apple continues to “evaluate service data.”

Apple introduced the redesigned polycarbonate unibody MacBook with a unique non-skid rubber bottom in October 2009. The entry-level notebook line received a quiet update in May 2010, adding Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics.

According to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu’s checks with suppliers, the Mac maker will update the MacBook line in a matter of months. Wu estimates the white MacBook accounts for roughly one-third of Apple’s portable business, which makes up 73% of all Mac sales.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, let us know.

Rumor: Apple to release fifth-generation iPhone with 8MP camera, SIM-free design between July and August

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Date: Monday, May 30th, 2011, 12:20
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Per Japanese web site Macotakara, Apple is rumored to be releasing a fifth-generation iPhone with an 8-megapixel camera and a SIM-less design that will not be a major departure from the current iPhone 4 design.

Citing an anonymous source, the web site reported Monday that the next iPhone will have the same form factor as the iPhone 4, and will use an ARM Cortex-A9 processor. The report said it is “not confirmed” whether the new processor will have a single CPU or is dual-core.

The report also said the handset will have an 8-megapixel camera, and a SIM-less design along with 3-4 internal antennas that will allow the device to serve as a “world phone” compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks. That would allow the same hardware to run on both AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S.

The report claims that the device, which will include a Qualcomm chipset, will be released at the end of July or in early August. While later than usual, that release date would be sooner than the fiscal 2012 claim the same site made back in March.

Finally, the report claims that Apple’s next “major new handset” will arrive in the spring of 2012. A spring release for a so-called “iPhone 6″ was previously suggested in April, in a Japanese newspaper report that said Apple had selected Sharp to create next-generation low-temperature poly-silicon LCD displays for a thinner and lighter design.

The details in Monday’s latest report restate and help to reinforce rumors that have previously surfaced. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with Concord Securities stated in April that the next iPhone will feature “slight modifications” from its predecessor, including a new 8-megapixel rear camera. Other reports have suggested the next-generation iPhone will include both CDMA and GSM radios, making it a world phone.

As for the SIM-less design, last week the CEO of carrier Orange said that Apple will introduce a new, smaller and thinner SIM card in its next-generation iPhone. There were reports last year that Apple was working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone, but it was claimed that those plans upset carriers who felt they could be marginalized by such a move.

Picture quality on the new iPhone is also expected to be improved with a separate component for an improved LED flash. Various reports, including one earlier Tuesday, have suggested the flash will be moved farther from the camera lens to reduce red eye.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to introduce 4G LTE network to 15 markets by end of 2011

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Date: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, 03:01
Category: iPhone, News

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Though reports have suggested Apple’s next iPhone will not support the 4G long-term evolution standard, AT&T will roll out its new high-speed network to more than 70 million customers by the end of 2011.

According to AppleInsider, Details for AT&T’s 2011 LTE plans were detailed by the company’s chief technology officer, John Donovan, in a post on his company’s web site. AT&T’s 4G network will debut this summer in five markets: Dallas, Tex., Houston, Tex., Chicago, Ill., Atlanta, Ga., and San Antonio, Tex.

“We plan to add another 10 or more markets in the second half of the year, and cover 70 million Americans with LTE by year-end,” Donovan wrote. “We also have plans to add 20 4G devices to our robust device portfolio this year, with some of those being LTE capable.”

He revealed that AT&T has invested US$75 billion in its wireless and wired networks in the last four years and that the company also plans to invest US$19 billion in wireless and wireline networks, along with other capital projects, this year.

The launch of AT&T’s LTE network will come well after rival Verizon, which debuted its fourth-generation high-speed network last December in 38 metropolitan areas and more than 60 commercial airports across the U.S.

AT&T has been hyping its forthcoming LTE network, and last week showed off download speeds of 28.8Mbps, along with 10.4Mbps uploads. The download rate is more than seven times faster than the 3.77Mbps rate that can be reached on AT&T’s current HSPA network, while uploads were more than eight times the current 1.21Mbps rate.

Verizon says its LTE network has real-world data rates of between 5Mbps and 12MBps downstream and 2Mbps to 5Mbps upstream. Verizon’s LTE network will be nationwide by the end of 2013, while AT&T has said its own LTE deployment will be “largely complete” by the same time.

Recent rumors have pegged an LTE-capable iPhone to come from Apple in 2012, and not this year. Verizon’s chief executive said earlier this year that Apple understands the “value proposition of LTE,” and that they will be “a part of” the technology’s future.

At the official Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 unveiling in January, executives revealed that Apple chose not to include LTE technology because it would require design changes. Officials from Verizon indicated they wanted the iPhone as soon as possible, so Apple obliged with a modified version of the GSM-based iPhone 4 released in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hard drive replacement in Thunderbolt-equipped iMac restricted by unique connector, temperature control system

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Date: Friday, May 13th, 2011, 04:48
Category: iMac, News

If you want to upgrade the hard drive on your new Thunderbolt-equipped iMac, you may be in for some additional challenges.

Per Other World Computing, Apple iMac desktop line features a new custom 7-pin serial ATA connector and proprietary temperature control system that will make hard drive upgrades difficult for end users.

The article’s authors found that the main 3.5″ SATA hard drive bay in the new 2011 Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs has been modified significantly. Instead of a standard 4-pin power configuration, the drives in the new all-in-one desktop use a custom 7-pin configuration.

In addition, hard drive temperature control is reportedly detected through a combination of the new cable and proprietary firmware that Apple has on the hard drive itself.

“From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from the bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed,” the report said,” and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test.”

The site tried a number of methods to circumvent the changes Apple has implemented in the new iMac, including swapping the main drive out with the same model drive, as well as a different solid-state drive. All testing so far has found that the Apple-branded hard drive not be removed or replaced.

In addition, though the iMac EFI Update 1.6 released earlier this month allows 6Gb/s speeds on two internal ports, the standard 7,200rpm drive that ships with the new iMacs cannot take advantage of those fast throughput speeds.

The site sells a “Turnkey Upgrade Program” that allows for hard drive upgrades on Mac hardware. While the service will not allow upgrades to the main drive, it can take advantage of an external eSATA port or allow additional, secondary hard drives to be added.

Apple’s new quad-core Sandy Bridge iMacs with Thunderbolt ports debuted earlier this month. Users can configure the desktop to include both a standard spinning hard drive as well as a 256GB solid-state second drive, on which Mac OS X and all applications will come preinstalled.

The new iMacs were the first hardware to ship with Intel’s new Z68 chipset, which allows for faster solid-state drive caching performance with hybrid drives or a combination of SSD and traditional drives. However, Apple’s new iMacs do not take advantage of the new caching feature offered by the Z68 chipset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google launches cloud-based music service, demos upcoming version of Android

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Date: Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, 03:48
Category: News

Google launched the invite-only beta of its new cloud music streaming service Tuesday, along with Android movie rentals, and Honeycomb 3.1 for tablets. It also previewed Ice Cream Sandwich, the next major Android release, and promised that devices will receive future Android updates for 18 months after they launch, through a new agreement with carriers and device makers.

Per AppleInsider, the company launched its new Music service, a streaming product that will remain free while in beta. Initially, the service is only available to those who are given an invite.

The license-free cloud product allows users to upload their library of music to Google’s servers, and stream those tracks to Android devices and computers, on both Windows and Mac. The Music Beta software allows users to upload all of the music within their iTunes library and access it on the go.

The search giant unveiled the new product as part of its I/O 2011 conference on Tuesday. It boasted that the music service, when synced to the cloud, means users will never have to sync with a cable again.

Music Beta by Google also lets users “pin” their music for offline use, allowing content to be accessed when a data connection may not be available. Music Beta can be used on Android devices running Froyo or Gingerbread.

Google also unveiled movie rentals for Android devices, with thousands of movies available to rent for US$1.99 A new movies application for Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom allows users to watch movies on the go as well.

Like with music, users can “pin” their movie and download it, even if it’s rented and streaming, for playback when a data connection may not be available, such as on a plane ride.

Movies are now available on the Android market, and the official Movies application is available as part of today’s Honeycomb 3.1 release, while smartphone users with Android 2.2 will receive the application in the next few weeks.

Google also announced that an update for Honeycomb, its tablet-centric mobile operating system, is available today for Verizon customers. Those who own a Motorola Xoom will be able to update to Android 3.1.

The new update adds the ability to make Android devices act as USB hosts. In one example, they showed an Xbox 360 wired controller being used with an Android tablet via USB.

With the update, users can also stretch widgets horizontally or vertically to make them fit their needs.

Android 3.1 will also come to Google TV this summer, and bring the Android Market with applications. Google also revealed that there are now more than 200,000 applications available on the Android Market.

Google’s philosophy with the next major release of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, will be “one OS everywhere,” across a range of devices. That would mean that Android phones and tablets would be running the same operating system, unlike the current landscape where Honeycomb is restricted only to tablets.

Google said it would have an “advanced app framework” in the next release of Android, allowing developers to scale their software to different platforms. They also boasted that their mobile operating system will “all be open source.”

Ice Cream Sandwich is also said to include a new user interface, new widgets, and new applications. It said the next user interface would be “state of the art.”

In one demonstration, Google showed off 3D headtracking on a Motorola Xoom using the hardware’s forward facing camera.

Google also vowed to streamline the updating process for Android devices. Carriers and device makers have agreed to provide new updates for 18 months after devices are launched, provided the hardware can support the newer versions of Android.

The company also showed off a new standard called Android Open Accessory. Using this, external can be connected to Android handsets and be supported by third-party software.

The search giant provided a demonstration of Android Open Accessory by connecting an Android phone to a stationary bike. It also demonstrated home automation integration called Android @ Home, with Android-compatible lightbulbs from Lighting Science set to go on sale by the end of the year.

If you’ve received an invitation to Google’s new music service and had a chance to play with it, please let us know.

Newer Technology announces NuPower 52 Watt-Hour High Capacity Battery for 2008/2009 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, 11:36
Category: Accessory, battery, MacBook Pro, News

If you’re saving up for a 2011 MacBook Pro and need to keep your older gear going for a while, you’ll appreciate that.

On Tuesday, Woodstock, Illinois-based Newer Technology announced today the NuPower 52 Watt-Hour High Capacity Replacement Battery for Late 2008/Early 2009 15″ Apple MacBook Pro ‘Unibody’ notebook computers that offers up to 4% greater capacity over the factory original battery for longer runtimes.

The unit retails for US$99.00 MSRP and reportedly offers a 23% lower cost than the replacement battery available from Apple.

The battery includes Newer’s one year warrant and is RoHS-compliant.