Apple patents describe possible convertible tablet, next-gen MagSafe power/optical connector

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, 05:46
Category: iPad, MacBook, Patents

applelogo_silver

A pair of patents that went public on Tuesday reveal that Apple could be working on a device that converts from standard laptop form to tablet form as well as a magnetic connector that provides both power and an optical data connection.

Per freepatentsonline, a November 30 patent entitled “Application Programming Interfaces for Scrolling Operations” has surfaced, the patent depicting an Apple notebook that slides into tablet form as an example of a device that would take advantage of the patent’s scrolling operations.

The drawings first show a laptop with a traditional keyboard, body, display frame and display. Then, according to the patent, “the laptop device can be converted into a tablet device” by sliding the display across the keyboard.

Since the patent relates to scrolling operations, it would presumably not cover the convertible laptop to tablet form factor. Apple does, however, disclaim in the application that the patent contains “specific exemplary embodiments.”

“It will be evident that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative sense rather than a restrictive sense,” reads the patent.

In its recent revision. to the MacBook Air line, Apple took features from the iPad, such as “solid state storage, instant-on, amazing battery standby time, miniaturization and lightweight construction.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the ultra-thin laptop’s unveiling that he and his company had asked themselves, “What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?” With both a touchscreen and a keyboard, laptop and tablet configurations, these figures from the scrolling operations patent reveal the possibility of an even closer integration between the two products.

In another patent awarded Tuesday, Apple seeks to reduce the number of cables connected to a laptop device to a single connector that would provide both a power and data connection.

One drawing of the invention depicts what appears to be a MagSafe-like connector attached to a “power and data adapter” with optical, USB, Ethernet, and DVI ports. The adapter would function as both a power brick and a port hub.

Another drawing features a MagSafe connector that splits off into a fiber optic cable with a data adapter and a DC power cable with a power transformer.

The patent could be a first look at Apple’s planned implementation of Intel’s Light Peak optical cable technology. Intel is reportedly readying Light Peak for an early 2011 release, and Apple is expected to quickly incorporate the technology into its Mac line of computers.

Intel claims Light Peak has a bandwidth of 10Gbps and will scale up to 100Gbps over the next decade. “Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible,” states Intel on its website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on the patents, please let us know.

2011 MacBook Pro may include Light Peak, USB 3.0, do away with DVD drives

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 06:46
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

smallmbp

Back in 1998, Apple veered its user base away from the floppy disk drive, whether people were ready or not.

This could happen again next year, if to a smaller degree.

According to Three Guys and a Podcast, Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pro will likely arrive in April 2011 with a new design inspired by the latest slim-line MacBook Air. That means that the high-end laptops will probably dispense with spinning drives altogether and come equipped only with solid-state drives of up to 512GB capacity.

With the internal speed bottlenecks reduced by the flash memory drives and new Sandy Bridge CPUs, Apple will also work on speeding up the external communication interfaces. The much-sought-after Light Peak port technology may finally debut on the MBP, as will USB 3.0. The fate of Firewire is unknown at this time, but it seems unlikely to make the cut, especially if Light Peak is included. The one exception may be if Apple keeps one of the current generation 15″ machines in the lineup as an entry model. If the 13″ MBP also remains in the lineup, the new interfaces, CPUs and perhaps a higher resolution display will be what set it apart from the similarly sized Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you’d make of such a notebook in the comments.

Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor line to launch during CES

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, November 16th, 2010, 05:00
Category: News, Processors

intellogo.jpg

Microprocessor giant Intel has confirmed the launch of its Sandy Bridge next-generation processors during its keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5th, a new report claims.

Per Electronista, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the “world’s fastest processor,” at CES. The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple’s Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros.

“Desktop chips will range from dual 2.5 GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4 GHz Core i7s. Regular notebooks will get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors, and desktop replacements will get quad 2.2GHz through to 2.5GHz Core i7s,” the report noted. Taiwanese industry publication Digitimes reported Monday that low-power Sandy Bridge processors will be coming to Intel’s Huron River platform, which is also due for a Q1 2011 release.

During an earnings call in July, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he was “more excited by Sandy Bridge” than any product that the company has launched “in a number of years.” “Due to the very strong reception of Sandy Bridge, we have accelerated our 32-nanometer factory ramp and have raised our capex guidance to enable us to meet the anticipated demand,” continued Otellini.

At the time, Intel was expected to release the processors at the end of this year, with Apple then incorporating them into its Mac lineup in early 2011. In 2009, Apple was the first PC maker to release a Nehalem-based system.

In a company memo in October, Otellini admitted that Intel is losing the mobile race to Apple, which has gained a massive head start with the success of the iPhone and iPad, but he reassured employees that Intel was running a “marathon” and would catch up eventually.

Otellini cited Intel’s come from behind to capture 90 percent of the server market as a prior example. “I am also very optimistic about our opportunity in tablets and smartphones, even though we are not first to market with a solution,” Otellini said. “Ultimately, we can and will lead.”

Apple has reportedly been dissatisfied with the drop in battery life that comes with using Intel’s Atom chips. Early rumors suggested that an Apple tablet would sport an Atom chip, but Apple eventually went with a custom System on a Chip that used ARM reference designs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Light Peak could arrive for the Mac in early 2011

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 4th, 2010, 05:10
Category: Hardware, News

intellogo.jpg

Intel’s Light Peak optical cabling technology is on track to make its first appearance in products in early 2011, with Apple expected to follow soon after, according to a new report.

Per CNET, Apple has expressed a very strong interest in Light Peak after Intel approached them with it several years ago. According to sources, Apple Chief Steve Jobs and Intel CEO Paul Otellini allegedly fleshed out the Light Peak standard after Apple intimated that it was looking into optical signaling as a single port solution.

Light Peak, as we’ve outlined before, is a high-speed optical cable technology with bandwidth of 10Gbps, with the possibility of scaling up to 100Gbps in the future. A full-length Blu-Ray movie could transfer over Light Peak in less than 30 seconds, Intel states on its website. The company “expects to see Light Peak in PCs and peripherals in 2011.”

Per the report, sources claim that Light Peak will make its debut in the first half of 2011, and “likely earlier in the year than later.” Apple, which is described as an “innovating force in the industry,” is expected to incorporate Light Peak quickly after its release.

Early versions of the technology have already been tested on Macs. In 2009, “an Intel demonstration at its developer conference used a machine running Apple’s Mac OS X,” wrote author Brooke Crothers.

Optical cabling would provide Apple an alternative to USB 3.0. Though the Cupertino, Calif., company was rumored to be adding USB 3.0 to its Mac Pro and iMac desktops this summer, the updates failed to materialize. Apple has had the USB 3.0 specification for almost a year and a half. Intel has also resisted adopting USB 3.0, holding off on supporting the standard in its chipsets, despite one Intel spokesperson assuring that Intel remains “absolutely committed to USB 3.0 and beyond that.”

A continued Apple/Intel partnership for Light Peak would make mainstream adoption of the technology highly likely. Intel has the reach needed to drive costs down, and Apple is willing to take risks with new standards. Intel may also be looking to work with Apple to develop a mobile version of Light Peak, which would help it break into the mobile space, where Intel’s Atom processors have struggled for years.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jobs states Apple won’t support USB 3.0 in the near term via e-mail reply

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010, 04:48
Category: Hardware, News

applelogo_silver

It’s hard to say exactly what Steve Jobs will do next, so this may have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Per Tech2.0, a recent Steve Jobs e-mail sent as a reply to Mac user Tom Kruk stated that Apple has no plans to add USB 3.0 connectivity to Macs any day soon.

In the e-mail, Jobs allegedly wrote: “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Mac users will be missing out, for now at least. Following tests, the speed benefits of USB 3.0 are clear, particularly for high-definition video, music, and digital imaging applications. USB 3.0 offers a theoretical 10X jump over current USB 2.0 hardware, which maxes out at 480Mbps. USB 3.0, in contrast, can handle up to 5Gbps.

Intel is expected to roll out USB 3.0 sometime in 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.12 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 28th, 2010, 03:27
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.12 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, an 18.6 megabyte download, sports the following major change:

- Firefox 3.6.12 fixes a critical security issue that could potentially allow remote code execution.

Firefox 3.6.12 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run. If you’ve snagged the new version and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.11 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, 04:02
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.11 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, an 18.6 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed several security issues.

- Fixed several stability issues.

Firefox 3.6.11 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run. If you’ve snagged the new version and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

Next-gen MacBook Air pics leaked

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 04:12
Category: MacBook Air, photos, Rumor

mba2

It’s three days ahead of Apple’s scheduled “Back to the Mac” media event, but photos obtained by Engadget show a possible next-generation MacBook Air notebook with a unibody frame and what appears to be for a 13.3″ screen. The computer appears to have USB plugs on both the left and right sides, Mini DisplayPort and an SD card reader.

Engadget’s source claims the rest of the machine is also unibody, including the “large single mouse button,” but the screen will keep the current MacBook Air style, instead of the “edge-to-edge glass with black edges” that current MacBook Pro models have.

The laptop allegedly runs the same 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor as the current MacBook Air notebook, which could demonstrate that the photos are of an early prototype. Engadget’s source claims “the model dates back to at least April.”

The unverified photos represent “just one SKU,” so Apple may have something else in store as well, wrote author Paul Miller.

Additional sources have claimed that Apple will release a smaller 11.6″ MacBook Air this Wednesday at the company’s “Back to the Mac” special event.

Another source familiar with the matter believes the smaller form factor will forgo conventional hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) storage options in favor of an “SSD Card”, though details are still vague as to this possible feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think of the photos:





Rumor: Current MacBook Air supplies being depleted, next-gen model said to be forthcoming

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 7th, 2010, 04:19
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

mba2

With current supplies of Apple’s MacBook Air notebook drying up through the company’s indirect sales channels, rumors are spreading that a next generation model is on the horizon.

Per AppleInsider, all but one of the Apple Authorized Resellers that the web site tracks tracks as part of its Mac Price Guide have run out of low-end 1.83GHz MacBook Air, including Amazon.com, MacConnection, MacMall and J&R. In addition, at least two of those resellers are also reflecting no stock of the high-end 2.13GHz configuration.

This marks the first time the web site has witnessed this abnormal trend in regards to the Air since it began tracking availability of Apple’s Mac line on a daily basis over two years ago. For weeks now, the websites of certain resellers have indicated that inventory of the low-end MacBook Air was on the verge of depletion, urging shoppers to “order soon,” as only a handful of units remained in stock.

Sources familiar with the buy side of operations for big box retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.com say that Apple has indicted to them that it will not replenish supply of the notebooks until October 12th through October 16th at the earliest. Such expansive delays on low volume products like the MacBook Air are common only when Mac maker is preparing to overhaul the product line, these people say.

Mid-October hardware updates have become something of an annual tradition for Apple, who last year unveiled a redesigned line of iMacs and unibody MacBook on October 20th, 2009. Though last year’s products were introduced without a formal event, in 2008 the company held a special gathering for the media on October 14th to introduce new MacBooks. Back in 2005, the company similarly held two events in mid-October to introduce a new iPod, iMac, and a lineup of PowerBook notebooks.

All these signs seem to support persistent rumors out of the Far East that Apple is gearing up to overhaul the MacBook Air line with a newly designed 11.6″ display this fall, creating a more aggressively priced notebook for students and the business traveler. It’s reported that Apple plans to ship around a half-million units before the end of the 2010 calendar year. The current MacBook Air sports a 13.3″ display.

Rumors of a MacBook Air with an 11.6″ display first surfaced in July. The rumored hardware was anticipated to be even slimmer and lighter, and will be powered by an Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

There’s also been a mixture of chatter regarding a much cheaper, thinner 11.6-inch Apple notebook that would weigh as little as 2.7 pounds due to the possibility of new carbon fiber unibody construction, though this and defined technical specifications have yet to be confirmed on any level.

The introduction of a new MacBook Air would likely come alongside an update to Apple’s iLife suite, a product that has also become long in the tooth. The last update, iLife ’09, was launched in January of 2009.

Recent rumors have suggested that a presumed iLife ’11 refresh will be written entirely in 64-bit code, will include a rewritten iWeb, and will drop the iDVD application. It has also been suggested that the software will be available for iOS-based devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you think in the comments.

Adobe releases Acrobat Reader, Pro 9.4 versions, patches security holes

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, 04:06
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Adobe released version 9.4 of its Adobe Reader and Acrobat Pro applications. The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, address security vulnerabilities while providing additional stability.

Acrobat Reader 9.4 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel or PowerPC-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.