Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to receive hard drive, RAM capacity boosts

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 14:39
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

There may be yet another reason to hanker after Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air notebook.

Per AppleInsider, the new MacBook Air may up the value proposition for customers through increases to the notebook’s standard memory and storage components, in addition to the latest ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge mobile chips, should checks within the company’s supply chain prove accurate.

In a recent note, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his industry checks suggest Apple is no longer placing orders MacBook Airs with 2GB of RAM. Instead, those checks indicate that all new 11.6- and 13.3-inch models will include 4GB of RAM as standard, as it will improve performance of Mac OS X Lion, also due to ship on each model.

Similarly, Kuo cited the same checks in suggesting that Airs with just 64GB solid-state-drives may go away in favor of Apple shipping only 128GB and 256GB models as standard, given that the bulk of Apple’s shipments have been for models containing those larger drives. Contrary to some reports, however, the analyst and proven insider said his checks indicate the SSD drives will remain pluggable, and won’t be soldered to the logic board.

In terms of which Sandy Bridge CPUs Apple has chosen for the Air, Kuo pointed to three specific Intel ultra-low-voltage chips (comparison chart) that launched just last month as prime candidates based on his checks: the Core i5-2467M (1.6GHz), i7-2637M (1.7GHz), and i7-2677M (1.8GHz). Each of the chips consume only 17 watts, making them suitable for the slim design of the Mac Book Air, and support systems with up to 8GB of total memory.

While these details can’t currently be corroborated, Kuo has a respectable track record of producing accurate predictions for Apple’s future hardware designs. For instance, he was the first to accurately predicted the launch of an 11.6-inch MacBook Air and iPod touch with camera last year, and this year followed up with accurate specifications for the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 production, among other products.

The redesigned MacBook Air launched last October with a thinner and lighter design and a new 11.6-inch model with a US$999 entry level price. The major changes, including the adoption of only solid-state flash hard drives, took the MacBook Air from being a relatively niche product in Apple’s lineup to one of its hottest selling Macs.

In particular, the sub-US$1,000 11.6-inch MacBook Air was said to be a major hit with consumers for both its price and lightweight design. In the first quarter of availability at the end of 2010, Apple shipped more than a million of the new MacBook Airs, making it one of the company’s most successful Mac product launches ever.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have something you’d like to see on the upcoming MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.8.6

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 02:26
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.8.6. The new version, an 8.3 megabyte download, makes the following fixes and improvements:

- Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

- Improved compatibility with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).

- Added support for Postbox 2.5.

- Updated the Setting Up MailMate instructions for the new preferences in MailMate 1.1.2.

- Updated the Setting Up Outlook instructions for Microsoft Office 2011 Service Pack 1.

- Updated the Setting Up Postbox instructions to ensure that messages that you train as spam are moved to the junk mailbox or trash.

- Worked around a rare OS/hardware condition that could prevent SpamSieve from launching.

- The Apple Mail plug-in is better at reporting errors when it’s unable to fully load itself.

- Made various other clarifications to the manual.

- Adjusted the help page titles to fit better in the menu and search results.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

Rumor: Apple to use Toggle DDR 2.0 NAND flash memory in next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for cool details about features for Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air, you might like this.

Per Macotakara, Apple is rumored to adopt “Toggle DDR 2.0,” a 19-nanometer process for NAND flash memory offering 400 megabyte-per-second speed, in its next MacBook Air.

Citing a person with an “Asian electronics component company,” the report said that the new technology will replace the Blade X-gale found in the current MacBook Air models.

The new 19-nanometer flash memory is said to be packaged on a smaller chip, and will be soldered onto the base circuit of the new thin-and-light notebook directly.

The report noted that the Open NAND Flash Interface Working Group, which standardizes NAND flash, has released the ONFi 3.0 specification for 400MBps speeds, but most memory processing companies do not yet offer compatible chips. It said that “Toggle DDR 2.0,” which is a standardized procedure from the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, is believed to have been embraced by Apple.

Apple’s MacBook Air was made thinner and lighter with a new model released last October that features instant-on capabilities with no hard drive and no optical drive. The ultraportable notebook sports only NAND flash memory for storage.

That storage was initially provided by Toshiba, but later changed to Samsung. The change allowed for read times to be upgraded to 261.1MBps, from 209.8Mbps, while write times were boosted to 209MBps from 175.6MBps.

Rather than relying on traditional 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch SSDs, the new MacBook Air drives utilize a new form factor known as mSATA. After the thinner and lighter MacBook Air was unveiled last year, Toshiba announced its Blade X-gale SSD series, the same hardware found in Apple’s thin-and-light notebook.

Apple is said to have built nearly 400,000 of its next-generation MacBook Air last month in preparation for a launch that is expected to occur soon. The anticipated new notebooks are believed to feature Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port.

While new MacBook Air hardware is expected to launch soon, it will not debut until Apple’s next-generation operating system is released. It’s also been reported that Apple would freeze the introductions of new Mac hardware until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is released. The “Golden Master” of Lion was released to developers last week.

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

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7 gold master to developer community, upgrade due this month

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Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 10:40
Category: News, Software

As July begins, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) is due to hit this month and as of Friday, Apple has released Lion’s Gold Master (GM) seed to developers.

Per Macworld, The GM release traditionally signals the last major internal update before the release to the general public; save any major issues, this version (labeled build number 11A511) of Lion should be the one consumers will see later this month.

Lion still has no official release date from Apple beyond the nebulous “July”, but we’ll keep you informed as to any news or changes as they become available.


VirtualBox updated to 4.0.10

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Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 03:44
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.0.10. The new version, a 82.8 megabyte download, sports the following list of fixes and changes:

- GUI: fixed disappearing settings widgets on KDE hosts (bug #6809).

- Storage: fixed hang under rare circumstances with flat VMDK images.

- Storage: a saved VM could not be restored under certain circumstances after the host kernel was updated (bug #8983).

- Storage: refuse to create a medium with an invalid variant (for example Split2G with VDI; bug #7227).

- Snapshots: none of the hard disk attachments must be attached to another VM in normal mode when creating a snapshot.

- USB: fixed occasional VM hangs with SMP guests (bug #4580).

- USB: proper device detection on RHEL/OEL/CentOS 5 guests (partial fix for bug #8978).

- ACPI: force the ACPI timer to return monotonic values for improve behavior with SMP Linux guests (bug #8511 and others).

- RDP: fixed screen corruption under rare circumstances (bug #8977).

- rdesktop-vrdp: updated to version 1.7.0.

- OVF: under rare circumstances some data at the end of a VMDK file was not written during export.

- Lion fixes (bug #8903).

- GNOME 3 fix.

VirtualBox 4.0.10 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know.

Best Buy puts hold on MacBook Air orders, next-gen units expected soon

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Date: Monday, June 27th, 2011, 04:58
Category: MacBook Air, News

National retailer Best Buy has put a hold on online MacBook Air orders, providing further evidence that Apple plans to release an updated version of its diminutive laptop.

Per Electronista, Best Buy’s listings for the current-generation MacBook Air are now listed as “Not Available for Shipping.” Meanwhile, all MacBook Air models on Apple’s Online Store remain ready for shipping.

Best Buy continues to offer the portables in its brick-and-mortar retail stores, though some locations have reportedly run out of stock. In the U.K., the big-box retailer allows orders for a MacBook Air with 128GB of storage, but only with in-store pickup at certain locations.

Apple is expected to refresh the MacBook Air line with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and the addition of the Thunderbolt port. However, sources close to the story have stated that Apple is waiting until it can load a Gold Master build of Mac OS X Lion onto the notebooks before releasing them.

Mac OS X Lion is due for release on the Mac App Store in July. As a major upgrade to Apple’s flagship desktop OS, Lion will include more than 250 new features such as full screen apps, additional multi-touch gestures and Mission Control.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.8 update

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Date: Thursday, June 23rd, 2011, 14:11
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Late Monday, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.8, the most recent version of its Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” operating system. The update, which alternates between 250 MB and 1.09 gigabytes for the combo update download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Enhancements to the Mac App Store to get your Mac ready to upgrade to Mac OS X Lion.

- Resolves an issue that may cause Preview to unexpectedly quit.

- Improves support for IPv6.

- Improves VPN reliability.

- Identifies and removes known variants of MacDefender malware.

- Corrects timezone data in iCal for Lisbon-Portugal.

- Adds the ability to use Kerberos authentication to a web proxy server.

- Fixes an issue when saving documents from Xcode or TextEdit when using an NFS home directory.

- Fixes an issue when importing certain media files into Final Cut Pro.

- Includes RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras.

- Mac OS X v10.6.8 also includes fixes provided in the Mac OS X v10.6.7 Snow Leopard Font Update

- Addresses an issue in which some OpenType fonts don’t display correctly in certain applications.

- Resolves issues printing from Preview.

- Addresses an issue with PDF files not opening in third-party PDF viewing applications.

- Resolves invalid font errors when printing to PostScript printers.

Mac OS X 10.6.8 can be directly downloaded here or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, positive or negative, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to manufacture Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-equipped Mac Pro, Mac mini units in August

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:57
Category: Mac mini, Mac Pro, Rumor

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In spite of a current lack of native devices for the mighty Thunderbolt port, a new rumor places Apple as manufacturing new Mac Pro and Mac mini systems with Thunderbolt this August.

Per a Twitter post from CNET’s Brian Tong on Sunday, the “all new” next-generation Mac Pros and Mac Minis will launch “either end of July (or) first week of August.”

He then followed up with a second post, in which he said that August is “more likely.” He also suggested that Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt would appear on both machines, as expected, though he added that “no details for specs or configurations were given.”

Tong in March correctly pointed to the launch of new iMacs, also with Thunderbolt ports and Sandy Bridge processors. He said the updated all-in-one desktops would arrive by early May, and they went on sale right on schedule.

The Mac Pro was last updated in late July of 2010. The tower was upgraded to 12 processing cores with Intel Xeon processors, making them up to 50% faster than their predecessors.

Just a month before, a redesigned Mac mini was released in June adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to a high-definition television. The Mac mini also sports a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera, all in a size just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin starting at US$699.

The MacBook Air is also expected to receive an upgrade in the near future to be outfitted with Sandy Bridge processors and a Thunderbolt port. Last week, it was reported that Apple is expected to hold off on releasing any new Mac hardware until its next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, goes on sale in July.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.