Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to feature longer lasting battery, upgradable RAM

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Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 12:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Because next-gen MacBook Air rumors and details are the hip thing today, a couple new interesting tidbits have emerged from the cool cats at Cult of Mac. Per the article, an anonymous source has stated that the refreshed MacBook Air will offer 8 to 10 hours of battery life as well as upgradeable RAM, which will arrive with 2GB onboard that can be upped later on.

The source also indicated that the notebook will be smaller, but will still offer a battery 50% larger, boosting battery life to between 8 and 10 hours, up from the current model’s 5-hour battery life.

The report also rumors that the new MacBook Air will be offered in two sizes: an 11.6″ screen, and a 13.3″ display. The source stated that the 13″ model could be priced as low as US$1,100, while the 11″ model could be just US$999.

The report also indicate that the solid state drive on the device will be upgradeable. Sources have stated that the new device will feature an “SSD Card” that lacks a traditional drive enclosure, and will instead more closely resemble NAND flash. However, it was said the storage will not be easily user replaceable and will be based off of an SATA connection.

Cult of Mac also reported that the new MacBook Air could come in two different configurations: a 2.1GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and a 2.4GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. It also said that the notebook will sport Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics, a GPU first introduced this April in the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The report also included a mockup of the device, which is said to be “thinner, lighter and boxier than the current model,” according to author Leander Kahney.

Other details include the following:
- The quick boot time on the new MacBook Air is said to be “unbelievable” and “amazing.”

- The new model has an aluminum unibody design, but is “not as curvy” as the current model.

- The source indicated it is “boxier” like the iPhone 4.

- For inputs, the source indicated the device has two USB ports, an SD card slot on the right side, and a Mini DisplayPort adapter on the left side.

Here’s hoping for the best and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

iFixit posts full teardown of 2010 iPod Shuffle

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 8th, 2010, 05:56
Category: iPod shuffle, photos

Once again, the cool cats at iFixit have gotten their hands on Apple’s new hardware to perform a full teardown of the fourth-generation iPod shuffle.

Per AppleInsider, the new hardware carries a model number of A1373, updated from the A1271 designation of the previous generation hardware.

The updated iPod shuffle marks the return of buttons to the media player, which were absent from the previous generation. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs even conceded last week that “people clearly missed the buttons.”

The tightly packed hardware is particularly difficult to open, iFixit noted. “It took us a good half hour of prying and heat-gunning to open the little guy,” they said. This is because back clip was is press-fit and glued onto the body of the device.

Other details noted by the solutions provider in its teardown:

- The new iPod shuffle has smaller retail packaging, but the box it ships in was not particularly small. “Apple could have shipped 30 iPod shuffles in this box,” they said. “Literally.”

- The fourth-generation hardware has a height of 1.14 inches, width of 1.24 inches, depth of 0.34 inches, and weight of 0.44 ounces.

- The control ribbon cable is just 1/8 of an inch wide, and the logic board is held in place by just one screw. The battery is soldered to the logic board.

- The 3.7V lithium-ion battery has a listed capacity of .19 Whr, which is good for 15 hours of audio playback.

- The manufacture dates on the die indicate the hardware was built in late June and early August of 2010.

For additional photos and details, check out the full teardown at the iFixit web site and if you’ve gotten your hands on the new Shuffle, let us know what you make of it, for better or for worse.

Nvidia announces seven new GeForce 400M notebook graphics card with accelerated Web browsing features

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 14:26
Category: News, Processors

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This could be nifty.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia on Friday announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for notebooks, which could provide parallel-processing capabilities to accelerate Web browsing and 3D image rendering.

Per Macworld, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome have either implemented or will soon include the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors. Nvidia’s new GeForce graphics cards will be faster at processing those tasks than CPUs, which should make Web browsing snappier.

The new graphics cards will be around 40% faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

While the CPU remains at the center of running tasks, developers are writing applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of graphics processors to speed up applications, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“That’s one of the changes with the new browsers, is they support that capability,” McCarron said.

Notebooks with Intel’s latest Core processors already have a graphics processor integrated in one chip next to the CPU. However, discrete GPUs have a faster and wider pipe to run applications, McCarron said.

Still, graphics processors can draw more power than CPUs or integrated graphics, which can affect battery life of notebooks. Nvidia’s graphics cards support new switchable technology called Optimus, where specific tasks like video rendering can be seamlessly switched between the CPU and GPU. The GPU kicks in only when needed, preserving the notebook’s battery life.

Nvidia declined to comment on the exact power drawn by the new graphics cards, citing company policy. In recent years the company has taken charges for faulty dies and weak packaging material used in its graphics chips that led to notebooks overheating. Those issues have been resolved for a while, Brown said.

“Nvidia GPUs are made with a different manufacturing substrate to prevent chips from experiencing thermal issues over time. Our GPUs run in the tolerance level of their specification and the notebook chassis design constraints,” Brown said.

More laptops are shipping with discrete GPUs as users look for stronger multimedia capabilities, McCarron said. Nvidia will be trying to extend its presence in the market with the new products, and it will have to compete with rival Advanced Micro Devices, which already offers Radeon HD notebook graphics cards.

Beyond Web browsing, the graphics cards will provide a better gaming experience and bring Blu-ray 3D movie playback to laptops, Nvidia’s Brown said. The graphics cards will support DirectX 11, Microsoft’s latest graphics technology included in the Windows 7 OS.

The new offerings include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, GT 435M, GT 445M, and the faster GTX 460M and GTX 470M graphics cards. The cards will be available only through the PC makers, and Nvidia did not comment on when the notebooks would become available. The graphics cards will be offered through PC makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba.

Individual pricing for the graphics cards and whether or not the cards would eventually find their way to Apple’s notebook products were not disclosed.

iOS 4 upgrade offers some battery life improvements over iOS 3 for iPhone 3G, 3GS handsets

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 19th, 2010, 04:30
Category: iPhone, News

With the recent release of iOS 4.0 and iOS 4.0.1, one question has needed to be answered: does the update boost your iPhone’s battery life. Per Macworld, it does, the lab downgrading an iPhone 3G that was running iOS 4 to iOS 3.1.3 and running a series of tasks. The staff then upgraded the iPhone 3G to iOS4 and ran the same set of tasks.

The iPhone 3G with iOS 4 lasted 5% longer (10 minutes) than the iOS 3-configured iPhone 3G.

In additional tests, there proved to be an even greater increase in battery life with iOS 4 on an iPhone 4GS, with the updated iPhone 3GS lasting 14% longer (35 minutes) than with iOS 3.

Take a gander at the article for specific details behind each test. And in spite of AntennaGate, the iPhone 4 and the usual complaints that come with any upgrade (“iOS 2.0 used to paint my house for me and that’s why I’ll never upgrade!!!”), it’s nice to see the battery life improve a bit.

How-To: deactivate Network Services to improve iOS device battery life

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Date: Thursday, July 8th, 2010, 04:31
Category: How-To, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Although the iOS 4 software update has been lauded as improving battery life for most users, some are finding the improvements lacking. Per the Apple Toolbox Blog, one source of this may be overuse of the Location Services feature which can accompany checking Push notifications, and having many open Safari windows open.

It now appears that overactive location services usage can result in poor battery life. Specifically, apps that use location services in the background can quickly drain the battery.

The post offers the following steps for resolving this and hopefully upping your iOS device’s battery life:

“To check location services usage on an app-by-app basis, navigate to Settings > General > Location Services.

Turn location services off for all applications, then turn them back on for desired apps one by one or in groups. Via this procedure, you can identify which app’s use of location services is draining battery.

Alternatively, you can temporarily turn off location services altogether and check for increased battery life.”

iFixit posts early teardown of iPhone 4 components

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 24th, 2010, 04:34
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the hardware teardowns that make technology fun and apparently a member of the fabled iFixit team planned to fly to Ginza to camp out at a Japanese Apple Store location. Instead, FedEx delivered an iPhone 4 two days early, allowing for an ahead-of schedule teardown of the handset, as posted here.

The teardown posted by iFixit of an early delivery reveals the new model’s A4 application processor with 512MB of RAM, the new Retina Display, dual front and rear cameras, a secondary mic for noise canceling, an oversized new battery, and custom gyroscope which along with the accelerometer provides full six-axis motion control.

The two rear exposed Phillips screws now release the back panel rather than the front glass, a design that “makes replacing the rear panel trivial, but unfortunately means that replacing the front glass will likely be rather challenging,” iFixit says.

Inside the back panel, the larger new 3.7V 1420 mAh Li-Polymer battery consumes all available space, while the new 5 megapixel still camera (capable of 720p, 30 fps video capture) anchors one corner and the vibration motor holds down the other.

The logic board packs Apple’s A4 application processor, a “new 3-axis gyroscope that we believe is designed and manufactured by STMicro” and not yet commercially available, STMicro’s 33DH 3-axis accelerometer, and an Apple-branded Cirrus Logic 338S0589 audio codec that is also used in iPad.

Going deeper, iFixit pulled the top mic used for noise cancelation to quiet ambient sounds, the front facing VGA camera used for FaceTime video chat, and the primary mic used in the mouthpiece.

Refreshed MacBook dissected, 10-hour battery could be transplanted into older MacBooks

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Date: Thursday, May 20th, 2010, 04:27
Category: MacBook, News

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You’ve got to love iFixit.

That being said, the firm has performed a complete teardown of Apple’s newest low-end MacBook and noticed that only the central processing unit, the graphical processing unit and the battery have changed since the last hardware iteration.

iFixit has stated that the battery itself is of special interest given that the battery is exactly the same shape as its former and all you have to do to get an extra 350 mAh for your existing plastic MacBook is to drop in a refreshed battery.

While the new cells weigh more and it’s likely the new silicon that’s actually responsible for 10 hours of battery life, but should your Li-ion pack fail under warranty, your older MacBook might be returned with more juice than you’d bargained for.

Kind of a cool thing if you ever dreamt of your older MacBook using a 10 hour battery…

New fourth-gen iPhone prototype photos emerge, A4 processor seems likely

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Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 04:48
Category: iPhone, News, Pictures

Right, this may be about the time Steve Jobs totally loses it and unleashes his new eye lasers.

Per Vietnamese web forum Taoviet, a series of photos, including a teardown of the hardware, has been published showing a newer and more refined fourth-generation iPhone prototype than the one obtained by Gizmodo last month. The pictures revealing the marking APL0398, which is also on the A4 processor found inside the iPad. The rest of the markings — 339S0084, K4X2G643GE, and YN6024Z3, are different, but the system-on-a-chip does include an Apple logo.

The new model also lacks the obvious screws visible in the Gizmodo photographs on either side of the Dock Connector, and is designated as being 16 GB rather than simply “XXGB.” The back panel is also shown to be highly reflective, with a large back facing camera and LED flash.

The new model also uses the same micro-SIM as iPad, and the card now inserts into the side of the phone rather than the top end.

A video demonstrates that the device was also turned on, but was not running the iPhone OS. Instead, the screen displayed a graphic of an explosion that read “Inferno.” At the bottom, text can be read that says “Start time: Run Bonfire!,” “Duration: 0,” and “Battery: 3 percent.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sources cite leaked fourth-gen iPhone prototype as close to final product

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Date: Friday, April 23rd, 2010, 03:28
Category: iPhone, News

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There could be a reason that Steve Jobs is madder than usual about the leak of the fourth-generation iPhone prototype; it may have been fairly close to the final product.

Citing sources familiar with Apple’s fourth-generation iPhone, Daring Fireball revealed that the barcode affixed to the prototype device obtained by Gizmodo, which read “N90_DVT-GE4X_0493,” gives insight into how far along Apple is in the design of its next-generation phone.

“‘N90′ is Apple’s codename for the fourth-generation GSM iPhone, slated for release this June or July,” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote. “‘DVT’ stands for ‘design verification test,’ an Apple production milestone. The DVT milestone is very late in the game; based on this, I now believe that this unit very closely, if not exactly, resembles what Apple plans to release.”

Gruber went on to say that although Apple is extremely secretive about unreleased products, it simply must let the units be used off of its Cupertino, Calif., campus to be tested. Apple reportedly distributes dozens of near-final units for field testing months in advance. Gruber said this practice is even more widespread with the iPhone than other Apple-developed products, because of the extensive nature of cellular network testing.

“The same was true for the 3GS a year ago, and the 3G the year before that,” he wrote. “The original iPhone was announced six months before it went on sale; in the interim between the January announcement and its debut in stores at the end of June, limited numbers of them were used for field testing.”

Even Apple co-founder Steve Jobs himself was spotted with an iPhone in public before the device was formally released to the masses.

The fact that the next-generation prototype iPhone was smaller and more compact than the current iPhone 3GS handset gave Apple the ability to wrap the prototype with an outer casing that made it appear to look like a current-generation device. The person who allegedly found the handset at a bar didn’t realize it was wrapped in a case until the next day.

The design of the iPhone has been largely unchanged from when it was first introduced in 2007, but the lost prototype and its near-final state would suggest Apple intends to modify the look of its handset. The discovered device abandons the curves of the previous-generation models, instead adopting a flat back made of new material to improve reception. It also sported a more angular look with an aluminum border. The prototype also replaced the volume rocker with two separate buttons.

Even greater changes were found inside the device, where Gizmodo discovered shrunken components to accommodate a battery that was 19% larger than the current-generation model’s power supply. The logic board in particular was drastically reduced in size, just one-third the size of the current model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Gizmodo tears iPhone prototype apart, posts findings

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Date: Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPhone, News

The plus side: Gizmodo tore apart and studied the iPhone prototype, revealing some interesting things and proving you can find some amazing things at a bar.

The down side: Steve Jobs is probably angry about this and several buildings on Apple’s campus have already been destroyed thanks to his eye lasers.

Per Gizmodo, the prototype iPhone was disassembled, revealing a tightly packed interior with much smaller components, allowing the device to be thinner than its predecessor while also making space for a much larger battery.

The teardown found that the main logic board of the prototype iPhone was about one-third the size of the board that controls the current-generation iPhone 3GS. “Basically, the guts have shrunk drastically,” author Jason Chen wrote.

Those smaller components allowed Apple to cram a battery that is 19% larger than the current iPhone’s power supply into the prototype device. And while the discovered hardware was thinner, it also reportedly weighed 3 grams more than the current-generation handset, thanks to the larger battery.

Disassembling the handset proved to be interesting, with between 40 and 50 screws inside the prototype iPhone. Chen also dispelled a rumor that the battery on the handset is user-removable (the tightly packed case must be disassembled to access the battery).

“Everything fits in here like an intricately-designed jigsaw puzzle,” the report said. “This is definitely laid out like a final product. To think that there’s more room left for any components for this case is unreasonable. Unless Apple decides now to go with a larger case so they can fit more things in there, this is the most that we’re going to see this summer.”

As to whether the device sports a custom-built Apple processor, like the iPad’s A4 CPU, that remains a mystery. The main logic board was encased in metal and could not be removed without breaking the device, and did not feature markings to indicate where its components originated.

The new hardware featured a forward-facing camera, high-resolution 960×640 pixel display, camera flash and a secondary mic for noise cancellation.

The prototype’s design also proved different from the iPhone we’ve become familiar with, which has looked largely the same since the device was first unveiled in 2007. Apple changed the back of the device to be completely flat, with a material said to be made either of glass or plastic to improve reception.

The device was allegedly found at a bar in Redwood City, Calif., where an Apple software engineer reportedly left it by mistake. It was wrapped in a casing that disguised it as an iPhone 3GS.

Gawker Media paid US$5,000 to an unknown party to receive the device. After it was disassembled and revealed to millions of Internet readers, Gizmodo reportedly returned the device to Apple.