Rumor: iPad 3 might include Retina Display at $80 premium

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPad, Rumor

You’ve been hankering over the idea of an iPad 3 with a Retina Display for a while now.

Unfortunately, it might cost a bit extra.

Per MacRumors, a document that has surfaced out of the Far East claims that Apple’s third-generation iPad will cost US$80 more, starting at US$579 instead of US$499.

The leaked comparison chart shows a 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only iPad priced at US$579, with the 32-gigabyte model for US$679 and 64-gigabyte for US$779. 3G-capable models are also shown with a price hike, though slightly less at US$70 for each model.

If the rumored prices prove accurate, the increases could be as a result of higher costs associated with the Retina Display Apple’s next iPad is expected to feature. Reports have pointed toward the new iPad screen having a resolution of 2,047 by 1,536 pixels, which would be twice that of the current 1,024-by-768-pixel screen on the iPad 2.

Other changes to the iPad are expected to be largely internal, with evidence of a faster processor and potential 4G LTE connectivity having surfaced in recent weeks. On the outside, the next iPad is expected to look largely the same, with an external case featuring edges slightly more tapered than the iPad 2.

A price increase for the next iPad would be a rare move for Apple, which has generally maintained price points for its iOS products with each annual upgrade. One of the biggest surprises with the first iPad when it was announced in 2010 was its US$499 starting price, which some analysts expected would cost over US$1,000.

There have also been suggestions that Apple could continue to offer the current iPad 2 at a lower price, much like the company currently does with previous-generation iPhone models. Some have seen a hypothetical US$399 iPad 2 as a way Apple could take away sales from Amazon’s US$199 Kindle Fire.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint expected to stay with iPhone, trade off subsidized prices for lucrative contracts

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iPhone, News

Even if your profits are down, this is no reason not to back your winning horse.

Per the Barrons.com blog, despite expecting a decline in wireless profits due to the high subsidy cost associated with carrying the iPhone, Sprint plans to exceed its US$15.5 billion minimum purchase agreement with Apple and looks to make up for the profit loss with subscriber revenue.

In the Monday filing of Sprint’s 10-K report for the 2011 fiscal year, it was revealed that the company is betting on subscriber dues to offset an expected 2012 deficit from the agreement with Apple, which called for a minimum order of around US$15.5 billion worth of high-subsidy iPhones.

During 2011, the company entered into a purchase commitment with Apple, Inc. to purchase a minimum number of smartphones, which on average, is expected to carry a higher subsidy per unit than other smartphones we sell.

Sprint’s plan is to take a hit in profits early by purchasing and subsidizing iPhones, then reap the benefits yielded from subscribers with lucrative smartphone contracts. There is evidence that the strategy may be working, as the carrier sold 1.8 million iPhones over the holiday quarter, 40 percent of which were to new subscribers. In contrast, iPhone activations at the top two U.S. carriers Verizon and AT&T stood at 4.2 million and 7.6 million, respectively.

Carriers pay heavy subsidies to carry the iPhone, and Sprint is currently paying US$450 for every unit sold with a two-year contract. On top of what the company calls an “instant savings,” Sprint is the only carrier in the U.S. to offer unlimited data for any iPhone model.

The nation’s third-largest mobile carrier was the last of the “big three” networks to get the iPhone, and only started selling the device in October, 2011 when the newest iPhone 4S was debuted. Combined launch-day sales of the iPhone 4S and last-generation iPhone 4 helped set a new one-day record for Sprint, and the product line continues to draw in new customers.

Previous reports called the iPhone agreement a “bet the company” move, and estimated that the telecom would have to put up US$20 billion for rights to sell the popular Apple handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may be shipping iPad 3 units as Best Buy offers $50 discount to current models

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 08:46
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s when the discounts arrive that things get interesting.

Per Apple.pro, as retailer Best Buy has begun offering US$50 off every iPad 2 model, a purported shipping manifest suggests Foxconn is already preparing to ship the device’s third-generation successor to Apple in the United States.

The alleged secret shipments from Foxconn were revealed via a shipping manifest over the this weekend, which shows a series of shipments scheduled to begin delivery in the U.S. no later than March 9. The mystery orders arriving from Chengdu, China, are said to be under high security.

The purported shipping manifest is said to be from major international cargo charter flights originating from Chengdu International Airport. A source from Foxconn’s Chengdu plant reportedly indicated that the shipment is for “Apple’s latest products.”

The shipments could imply that Apple is preparing for near-immediate availability of its third-generation iPad. That device is expected to be officially unveiled at a media event on March 7.

For comparison, last year Apple announced the iPad to on March 2, and the device became publicly available in the U.S. just over a week later on March 11. The international launch of the iPad 2 came a few weeks later on March 25, expanding to 25 additional countries.

With an anticipated iPad unveiling just over a week away, retailer Best Buy on Sunday began offering US$50 off all iPad models. Customers can now obtain an iPad 2 at a starting price of US$449.99 for the Wi-Fi-only 16-gigabyte model, while even the high-end 64-gigabyte 3G-enabled model has a US$50 discount, bringing it to US$779.99.

Best Buy’s iPad 2 sale comes soon after Meijer, a regional big-box retailer in the U.S., slashed the price of the 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi by US$70. Retailers are believed to be clearing out inventory of the current iPad in anticipation of a new model debuting soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel to delay launch of Ivy Bridge processors by 8-10 weeks

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 08:19
Category: News, Processors

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You know, nobody really LIKES the person who tells them “better late than never”, even though that person tends to be right.

That being said, Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, sized at 22 nanometers and expected to appear in Apple’s updated Mac lineup, will become available eight to 10 weeks later than originally planned, one company official has said.

Per the Financial Times, Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chairman of Intel China, revealed in an interview with the Financial Times that his company’s Ivy Bridge processors are now expected to go on sale in June. Those CPUs were originally planned to become available in April.

The apparent delay will allow Intel more time to manufacture the smaller, more complex chips. Maloney indicated that a later June launch was not prompted by a lack of demand.

The comments support a rumor from earlier this month that indicated Intel was forced to push back shipments of its Ivy Bridge processors to June. However, that same report claimed that a “small volume” of chips would be shipped in early April.

Earlier reports had suggested that Intel planned to debut a total of 25 new 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge processors at launch. They would include 17 desktop CPUs and 8 notebook processors.

Initial chips are expected to include models 3820QM, rumored to be priced at US$568, and 3720QM, US$378, both of which are potential candidates for an updated MacBook Pro.

Reports from late last year suggested Apple was planning to launch its updated MacBook Pro lineup in the second quarter of 2012>. It was said the Ivy Bridge-powered notebooks would feature a Retina Display-quality screen resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels, exactly twice that of the 1,440-by-900 display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Retina Display MacBook Pros would be possible with Ivy Bridge because Intel’s next-generation chip architecture will bring support for 4K resolution. That gives Apple and other PC makers the option to build a display that is 4,096 pixels across, at a resolution more than twice that of 1080p.

The new Ivy Bridge notebook processors will feature Intel HD Graphics 4000 architecture. High-end MacBook Pros with dedicated graphics are rumored to be powered by Nvidia in Apple’s 2012 lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0, hopes to resolve wake/reconnection issue

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iMac, News, Software

The firmware updates, they keep on rolling in.

Late Friday, Apple released iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0, a 25.8 megabyte download that resolves an issue that may cause an iMac to not automatically connect to a known Wi-Fi network after waking from sleep. It is recommended for all iMac (Late 2009 or newer) users running 10.7.3.

The firmware update is available either via direct download or through Mac OS X’s Software Update feature on a qualifying iMac.

If you’ve tried the iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0 upgrade and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to replace 30-pin iPhone, iPod, iPad connector with smaller alternative

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

It’s a rumor, but it involves replacing the classic 30-pin connector you know, love and are readily familiar with on your iPod, iPhone, and iPad with something new, so proceed to panic.

Also, begin hoarding food, as this means the apocalypse is well nigh.

An unsubstantiated rumor claims that Apple is looking to replace the venerable 30-pin iPhone, iPad and iPod dock connector with a smaller, space-saving successor that will possibly make a debut in the company’s next generation iPhone.

According to the iMore blog, unnamed sources have stated that the iPhone maker found a way to make the connector smaller in 2010 to help accommodate for the iPhone 4’s larger battery.

Another factor is the connector’s role in data transfer. With the advent of iCloud, AirPlay and the energy-sipping Bluetooth 4.0, a future iPhone may only need a cable for charging purposes.

It is unclear what would become of the huge ecosystem of existing “Made for iDevice” products, which is a lucrative business for both Apple and third-party companies, as it would be made obsolete by a redesigned connector.

Details remain scarce at this time, but check back and we’ll get information up as soon as it becomes available.

iFixit studies iPad 2 display, purported iPad 3 display, finds evidence supporting Retina Display for iPad 3

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Yes, there’s more than a few iPad 3 rumors floating around at the moment, but a genuine comparison backed by video helps.

Per MacRumors, do-it-yourself site iFixit posted a side-by-side comparison video on Thursday between the alleged next-generation ‘iPad 3′ display and a replacement screen for an iPad 2, and results reaffirm previous reports that the purported new component’s pixel density is indeed double that of Apple’s current tablet line.

The site, well known for its product teardown and self-repair guides, used a USB microscope to shoot pixel-level images of a rumored “iPad 3” display that was obtained by MacRumors on Friday through “unreported channels.”

Although last week’s report yielded compelling photographic evidence that the component was a QXGA screen with a resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels, the iFixit images are of higher quality and show more detail than the previous side-by-side photos. Clearly seen are individual pixels, with the new display appearing to sport a common RGB sub-pixel arrangement which is identical to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S’ Retina Display.

iFixit was unsuccessful in powering on the display due to a newly-designed LCD connector cable, but the USB microscope threw enough light to show that for each iPad 2 pixel, the new component boasted four. The finding is concurrent with reports that claim the pixel density of the rumored tablet will be around 260 pixels-per-inch. In contrast, the current generation iPad 2 has a 132 ppi pixel density.

While the estimated 260 ppi falls short of the 300+ ppi the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs described as being a qualifier for Retina Display status, it can be contested that because users hold tablets farther away from their eyes than a phone, the would-be “iPad 3” specs are be enough to achieve a perceived pixel density similar to that of Apple’s latest smartphone.

The physical dimensions of the display are identical to that of the iPad and iPad 2, though iFixit notes that those thinking of swapping out their iPad 2 screens with this new “iPad 3” model are out of luck. Besides the obvious incompatibility with current iPad logic boards, there have been no figures as to the screen’s power consumption and processor requirements.

Previous reports pointed to rumors that, due to a high pixel count, a so-called iPad Retina Display may need a backlight configuration consisting of two LED light bars to achieve brightness levels equavalent to current iPad models.

Apple is rumored to announce its next generation tablet on March 7, and will feature the rumored Retina Display, a redesigned case, a new processor and 4G LTE functionality.

Stay tuned for additional details and in the meantime, a little video never hurt anyone:



Apple releases firmware updates for early and late 2011 MacBook Pro, mid-2011 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released firmware updates for its early and late 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks as well as its mid-2011 MacBook Air Notebooks.

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.7, a 4.1 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (Late 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4, a 3 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

The updates can be directly downloaded and installed or located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware updates and have either positive or negative feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent shows effort to develop thinner keyboards

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:51
Category: News, Patents

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Remember your Apple keyboard?

It might just be about to go through a training montage and get thinner in the process.

Per Free Patents Online, Apple may be looking to make its notebook computers and keyboard accessories even thinner and lighter with a brand new take on the classic input method.

Apple’s interest in reinventing the keyboard was revealed in a new patent application entitled “Single Support Lever Keyboard Mechanism,” it describes a handful of ways that a keyboard could be shrunk in size without affecting its performance.

In the filing, Apple notes that the size of existing keyboards presents a challenge for the company as it attempts to design thinner, lighter and more attractive devices.

“It would be beneficial to provide a keyboard for a portable computing device that is aesthetically pleasing, yet still provides the stability for each key that users desire,” the application reads. “It would also be beneficial to provide methods for manufacturing the keyboard having an especially aesthetic design as well as functionality for the portable computing device.”

One of the most common keyboard types is the “dome switch,” in which the key pushes down on a rubber dome located beneath the key. Other types of keyboards include capacitive, mechanical switch, Hall-effect, membrane, and roll-up, and each offer their own strengths and weaknesses in terms of two important categories: response (positive feedback that the key has been pressed) and travel (the distance needed to push the key).

Apple’s solution is a single support lever keyboard mechanism, which the proposed invention says would allow the keyboard cap to be formed of almost any material, but would also provide stability to each key.

The application notes that the material chosen for the key caps is very important, not only for the appearance of the keyboard but also how it feels on users’ fingers. The application includes a number of potential off-the-wall materials that could be used, like glass, wood, stone, and even “polished meteorite.”

Regardless of the material, Apple’s keyboard key caps would be held in place by a rigid support lever. With its design, the keys could have a total travel range of as little as 0.2 millimeters.

In another method, Apple describes a support lever holding the key cap that would be made of a flexible material. This support lever could be made of spring steel that could allow good tactile feedback to the user when they are typing.

The key cap and support lever would have an “elastomeric spacer” between them and a metal dome positioned below. The spacer would be made of a material such as rubber or silicone that would “provide a desirable and distinctive feel to the user when pressed,” in addition to reducing rattling on the keyboard.

“The advantages of the invention are numerous,” the filing states, adding: “One advantage of the invention is that a low-travel keyboard may be provided for a thin-profile computing device without compromising the tactile feel of the keyboard.”

The filing, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed by Apple in August of 2010. It is credited to Patrick Kessier, Bradley Hamel, and James J. Niu.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tipsters reveal hints as to why AMD “Llano” processor never came to MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

If you wondered as to where the next-gen AMD processors might be on your MacBook Air, there’s a reason for that too.

According to Forbes, former AMD employees revealed that Apple gave its “Llano” chip a “close look” for a new MacBook Air model last year, but ultimately decided not to go with the processor because too many of its parts were faulty.

AMD has been through several reinventions in recent years in a quest to find a niche to call its own. The company was an early competitor to chip giant Intel, but it has struggled to keep up pace with its rival as of late.

Brian Caulfield reports that new “fusion” processors from AMD had a shot at upstaging Intel by making their way into Apple’s popular MacBook Air notebook for last year’s refresh. People familiar with the matter indicated that Apple had given the “Llano” processor, which combined the CPU and GPU into one part, serious consideration for use in its thin-and-light portable.

However, a former employee indicated that AMD was unable to get early working samples of the chip to Apple on time, though tipsters disagreed on exactly how close the company was to delivering the chip, with one claiming that AMD “had it.” According to the report, too many of the parts ended up being faulty and AMD lost the deal.

Sources also said AMD had proposed a low-power processor named “Brazos” for a revamp of the Apple TV box, but Apple declined to go with the option. “Brazos” went on to make inroads in the netbook industry and reportedly kept the company afloat.

“If Brazos had been killed, AMD wouldn’t be in business,” one former employee said.

A separate report from late last year also claimed that Apple had considered the AMD “Llano” option “plan A” for its MacBook Air, but AMD was said to have “dropped the ball” at the last minute.

Apple released the Thunderbolt MacBook Air last July with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors powering the notebooks. The machines became an instant success and reportedly jumped to 28 percent of the company’s notebook shipments just months after they were released.