iPhone “3GS” Code Name Leaked, New Unit to Feature Longer-Lasting Battery

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 8th, 2009, 08:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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With only hours to go before Phil Schiller’s keynote address at the 2009 Worldwide Developers Conference, a couple of interesting details have emerged.
According to Daring Fireball, the third-generation iPhone is code-named “iPhone 3GS.” The code name could tie into the Apple IIGS, which shipped in 1986.
The other interesting rumor is that battery life on the new iPhone is 15-20% longer than the iPhone 3G. This will have to be seen and tested, but would prove to be an extremely welcome change if true.
If you have any ideas as to what to expect from the keynote, let us know.

Scientists Look Towards Ferroelectric Transistors for Instant-On Notebook Technologies

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 08:45
Category: battery, News

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Researchers have apparently developed a technology that could allow notebooks to wake up instantly from shut-down states without draining battery life, as is commonly seen today.
According to Macworld UK, researchers have built ferroelectric material (which is usually found on smartcards) onto silicon, which could allow certain transistors to retain information after power is shut off. Scientists from Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University and Northwestern University are involved in the project.
The new findings could save users time by instantly booting laptops to an active and ready state when shut down.
“It would be instant-on, meaning as soon as the power comes back on, your computer would be in exactly the same state it was when you turned it off and ready for action,” said Darrell Schlom, principal investigator and professor at the department of materials science and engineering at Pennsylvania State University.
Quick-boot capabilities are enabled in Notebooks and most mobile devices, though many are unable to recreate shutdown states. As a result, notebooks usually never reboot back to their shutdown state, unless they are in sleep mode, which drains battery power. In essence, ferroelectric materials could wake up laptops from sleep mode, but without drawing any battery power.
The research could pave the way for a new generation of lower-power, higher-speed memory devices, Schlom said. For notebook users, it could reduce the time to load an OS from storage devices like hard drives. The ferroelectric material could also retain data in case power is lost.
The research itself revolves around building ferroelectric transistors, which are capable of retaining data in any electric state, onto hybrid transistors.
The researchers took strontium titanate, a variant of the ferroelectric material used in smartcards, and deposited it on silicon, putting it in a state where it could retain information even when power is off. The new findings cut the intervening layers that made it difficult to put the material on silicon.
Typically when power is turned off, voltages disappear from transistors, which have to be recreated when power is turned on. To recreate them, the relevant information is loaded from nonvolatile storage mediums like hard drives, which takes time. The ferroelectric transistors retain magnetization when the electric field is turned off, allowing it to retain data.
The technology will load operating systems differently from existing memory technologies like DRAM and storage technologies like hard drives and solid-state drives, Schlom said. Ferroelectric transistors conceptually differ in the way data is loaded and retained, Schlom said.
Benefits of ferroelectric transistors were first realized in 1955 by scientists at Bell Labs, Schlom said. Though the recent findings are a major step ahead, additional research is needed to build an actual ferroelectric transistor to make instant-on computing a reality, Schlom said.
He couldn’t provide a timeline for when such transistors would be built.
The researchers also include scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Motorola and Intel. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the US government.

Additional Perks, Features Emerge in iPhone OS 3.0 Firmware Betas

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 20th, 2009, 08:00
Category: iPhone, iPod shuffle, Rumor, Software

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Developers working with recent betas of Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 software have uncovered some impressive new features such as changes to Safari’s user interface, new battery status indicators and notification preferences, as well as the advent of data detectors in certain apps.
According to AppleInsider, the following changes have been the most prominent:
Safari:
Safari now allows the user to close out and clear all your open browser windows without having to first create a new blank page to get rid of the contents of the last active window.
The iPhone OS 3.0 beta apparently allows the user to close out the lone remaining page. Once the “x” icon is triggered, the page disappears and a new blank page quickly slides into view.
Battery Indicators:
Improvements have apparently been made to the battery indicators, showing the remaining battery life left on your iPhone or iPod touch as a numerical percentage.
Resource files contained within the new version of the device’s Springboard application include 22 new PNG files to facilitate this option. Half are numerical characters (and a “%” sign) in black typeface for representing healthy battery level percentages while the other half are in red typeface for when battery life falls bellow a certain threshold.
Though this has yet to be confirmed, users will have the option of selecting how their battery status indicator appears in the menubar — such as an icon-only view (per current versions of the software), an icon + numerical view, or a numerical-view only.
Push Notification preferences:
A new Push Notifications preference pane allows users to enable or disable any of the three types of notifications that third party applications can push to your handset: Sounds, Alerts and Badges. Alternatively, notifications can be disabled as a whole.
Data Detectors:
Apple has enabled Data Detectors for several new applications. Data Detectors automatically detect text fragments like email addresses, phone numbers, and street addresses and allow users to execute actions on those fragments via touch selections — like dialing a phone number automatically by clicking on it or adding it to your address book.
Finally, the iPhone OS 3.0 beta firmware apparently also allows users to change scrubbing speeds in the iPod application.
“You press and hold on the little dot to scrub and slide your finger down the screen to get finer scrubbing speeds,” a person familiar with the software said. “There are four options: Hi-Speed Scrubbing (normal slide position), Half Speed Scrubbing, Quarter Speed Scrubbing and Fine Scrubbing (furthest down the screen).”

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QuickerTek Releases External Battery/Charger for MacBook Air Notebook

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 07:38
Category: Accessory, battery, MacBook Air

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Accessory provider QuickerTek announced the release of a new external battery/charger for Apple’s MacBook Air notebook on Tuesday. The external unit powers the pack while simultaneously charging the internal battery and QuickerTek has cited 12 to 16 hours of run time or about 6 to 10 extra hours of power. According to MacNN, the charger is also said to charge the internal battery in only three hours.
The unit measure 7″ x 3.5″ and is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. QuickerTek claims the cells are capable of up to 1,000 full recharges.
The MacBook Air external batter can be purchased for US$349.95 but customers must also have a QuickerTek-modified MagSafe adapter, available for US$100. An existing MagSafe adapter can be converted for US$25.

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Your Take on the iPhone OS 3.0 Announcement

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Date: Thursday, March 19th, 2009, 09:04
Category: iPhone

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We asked for your opinions on Apple’s major iPhone OS 3.0 announcement on Tuesday and we got them.
So, here are your opinions in their pure, raw, unedited form brought to you by the PowerPage Server Hamster:

After having moved to the IPhone from the Blackberry, I’ve been astounded at the short battery life I now have. I can’t finish the day without having to plug the little bugger in. I know all the usual reasons (3G, Wifi etc…). What I’m looking for is a firmware update or something that will prolong the IPhone’s life. All those new bells and whistles, while welcome, will further drain the device and make it even more frustrating for road warriors.
Best, André

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iFixIt Disassembles iPod Shuffle, Posts Report

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Date: Monday, March 16th, 2009, 12:13
Category: iPod shuffle

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The uber-geeks of iFixIt.com have completed a full teardown and report of Apple’s recently-released third generation iPod Shuffle music player and discovered the following items of interest, as mentioned over on the Apple Core:

  • Normal headphones can be used without any adapters, except that the user cannot do anything except play music (no pause or volume control).
  • The battery is extremely tiny — about the size of a dime — and consequently has a paltry capacity of 73 mAh. That’s less than half the size of the batteries used in previous shuffles.
  • The weight of the entire shuffle is less than 11 grams, but the headphones add another 9 grams.
  • The rear cover and clip weigh as much as the rest of the shuffle.
  • With the casing removed, the electronics and battery weigh only 4 grams, less than the weight of a single sheet of paper.
  • There is only one screw in the shuffle.
  • The shuffle is not too challenging to open, but the rear cover can deform easily if the user is not careful while opening it.
  • If you’ve had a chance to pick up and play with the new Shuffle, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    MCE Ships 500GB OptiBay Hard Drive for Unibody MacBook, MacBook Pro Notebooks

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, February 24th, 2009, 07:04
    Category: hard drive

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    Accessory maker MCE Technologies announced that the company is now shipping its OptiBay hard drives for Apple’s unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook line.
    Per MacNN, the drives range in capacity from 250GB to 500GB and arrive with an 8MB buffer. The 350GB and 500GB drives run at 5400rpm, while customers can choose a 7200rpm option for the 320GB model. The company claims that the OptiBay components consume less power than the original drives, contributing to a 10 to 15% extension of the battery life. The drives also support status monitoring and spin-down commands from the Mac OS.
    The OptiBay hard drives are now available starting at US$190 and an optional enclosure can be used to convert the existing drive into an external storage device.
    Customers can also purchase an OptiBay kit for the unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro, allowing the use of any standard 2.5″ HDD. The kit can be purchased for US$130.
    If you’ve used an OptiBay kit before, let us know how the experience went in the comments or forums.

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    iFixIt Posts Full 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro Disassembly/Report

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, February 18th, 2009, 08:16
    Category: MacBook Pro

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    Tech guru and Mac-centered repair outfit iFixIt has fully disassembled Apple’s new 17″ MacBook Pro notebook, as mentioned over on the Apple Core.
    The new notebook features a battery that is not accessible without removing the notebook’s entire bottom panel. Apple has apparently secured the 12820mAh battery with three tri-wing screws to discourage removal, although the battery can be swapped using the correct tools and weighs approximately 1.25 pounds, which is 20% of the computer’s total mass. Aftermarket battery manufacturers are likely to offer a replacement soon.
    Apple has also shifted the notebook’s Bluetooth board from its previous location and the component now resides behind the optical drive.
    Other changes included the unit’s Sunon fan being physically larger than the 15″ unibody MacBook Pro fan and featuring “MagLev” technology which incorporates magnetic bearings to suspend the fan shaft without any contact between parts. This change is claimed to offer improved rotational stability, reduced vibration and increased resistance to high temperatures.
    The new 17″ MacBook Pro still displays an internal layout similar to the 15″ MacBook Pro. Finally, Apple has also decided not to include a Mini DisplayPort Adapter, in its latest model.
    Head on over to the link for the full tear-down and if you’ve gotten your hands on the new notebook, please let us know what you make of it in the comments or forums.

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    Apple Releases SMC Firmware Update 1.3 for 13″ MacBook

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, February 18th, 2009, 08:29
    Category: MacBook

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    Late Tuesday, Apple released its SMC Firmware Update 1.3 for the company’s 13″ polycarbonate (black and white non-unibody) MacBook notebooks released in early 2009. The update, a 557 kilobyte download, works to clear a performance issue wherein the notebook may slow down when booted while using battery power only. This SMC Update improves startup time when starting up from the battery.
    The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.
    If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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    Apple Posts Knowledge Base Articles to Help Access RAM/Hard Drive/Battery for Unibody MacBooks

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, February 17th, 2009, 13:41
    Category: How-To

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    Recently, Apple posted updated Knowledge Base documents referencing how to access the batteries, hard drive and RAM on the new unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.
    While the 13″ and 15″ computers come with a hatch that provides easy access (at least to the hard drive and battery), the 17″ computers do not have a hatch and many users have complained about the accessibility for user-serviceable hard drives, as well as RAM upgrades for the whole product line.
    Per MacFixIt, Apple’s reasoning for removing the access hatch makes sense from a battery engineering standpoint, but it does limit users from otherwise relatively simple repairs, upgrades, and troubleshooting. Despite not having a hatch, the 17″ macbook is still accessible. Users will have to remove the bottom case of the computer, and will need a #0 philips screwdriver.
    The Knowledge Base documents can be located at the following links:
    17″ MacBook Hard Drive (and RAM) (note that the RAM installation instructions are inscribed on the inside hatch).
    15″ MacBook Hard Drive (and RAM).
    For users interested in upgrading the RAM on the new 15″ MacBook Pro, the following video guide functions as a very thorough demonstration on how to upgrade the RAM:
    www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Upgrade-RAM-in-Unibody-MacBook-Pro—Bleeding-Edge-TV-297–71649299
    If you’ve upgraded your unibody MacBook or MacBook Pro and have any tips to offer, let us know in the comments or forums.

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