MacBook Air examined, found to be using scaled-down Thunderbolt controller

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Date: Friday, July 29th, 2011, 06:28
Category: MacBook Air, News

The new MacBook Air is getting positive feedback and being regarded as nifty.

And the cool nerds at AnandTech found out why.

Per AnandTech, Apple is using a scaled-down “Eagle Ridge” controller chip from Intel instead of the “Light Ridge” chip found in larger Thunderbolt-enabled machines.

Eagle Ridge is available in two form factors (normal and SFF [small form factor]) and is effectively half of a Light Ridge chip. That means you only get two Thunderbolt channels and one DP output. Apple used the small form factor version of Eagle Ridge in its new MacBook Air to cut cost and save on motherboard real estate.

With Eagle Ridge only supporting a single DisplayPort output, MacBook Air users are only able to drive a single external display via the Thunderbolt port, although the machine’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 would also preclude the use of two external monitors on the MacBook Air as it does on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt adoption has thus far been limited to high-end devices in part due to high costs associated with inclusion of the technology. Use of the scaled-down Eagle Ridge controller could help push Thunderbolt into lower-end products, presuming that the smaller chip carries some cost savings for manufacturers.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a brand new MacBook Air, let us know what you make of it via the comments.

Rumor: Apple looking to slim down MacBook Pro, move towards lighter/thinner form factor

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Date: Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 02:54
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The notion of slimming a notebook down and having it sell well seems to be working for the MacBook Air and this may be where the MacBook Pro is headed.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple seems likely to completely redesign its MacBook Pro line in favor of a thinner and lighter form factor. A 15-inch Air-like MacBook Pro and a 17-inch model are in the works, sources say, and may be here in time for holiday gift giving.

To get to that leaner form factor, Apple will likely ditch the optical drive (perhaps ultimately signaling the death knell for discs) while integrated SSD storage is also expected. The MacBook Pros have been Apple’s laptop workhorses, so we can also expect the premium laptops to offer more ports, better graphics, and more storage than the MacBook Air–at a more premium price but with the slimmer design.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing 15 and 17-inch MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 02:25
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With Apple’s new family of MacBook Airs selling like hotcakes, the company is believed to be working to introduce 15- and 17-inch models with a similar minimalist design to capitalize on the trend towards ultra-mobile computing.

Per MacRumors, the notebook is believed to be in the late testing stages, though no further details were provided. It’s therefore unclear at this time whether the device will be marketed under the MacBook Pro brand or arrive as an extension of the MacBook Air line.

A move away from the hefty, optical- and hard disk drive-equipped MacBook Pros and towards a family of notebooks based exclusively on thin, ultra-lightweight designs is something AppleInsider’s sources first began alluding to back in February. At the time, the transition was expected to take between 12 to 18 months.

The latest report may suggest Apple has ambitions of easing the transition by first introducing a 15-inch MacBook Air as an intermediate step. A jump towards an ultra-thin MacBook Pro before year’s end could ultimately prove burdened by too many sacrifices, given that existing technologies and componentry may not allow Apple to deliver a design as thin and lightweight as the existing Airs but powerful enough to replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Nevertheless, sources close to the story have said that MacBook Air features such as instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures, and the omission of optical drives should begin making their way to the remainder of Apple’s notebook offerings over the course of the next 12 months.

In similar news, The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that the site has also heard rumors of an ultra-thin 17-inch Apple notebook and believes both models could potentially turn up ahead of the holiday shopping season under the MacBook Pro moniker.

iFixIt teardown points out upgradable SSD in 2011 MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 03:43
Category: MacBook Air, News

They snagged it.

And they dissected it.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the mighty iFixIt team had performed a full teardown of the 2011 13″ MacBook Air.

One of the nicer things to come out of the teardown was the news that the internal solid-state drive isn’t soldered to the logic board, meaning that MBA owners who would like more storage and don’t have an issue with invalidating their warranty can open the computer and install a drive with more capacity. While Apple’s MacBook Air storage solutions max out at 256 GB, while other providers offer faster SSDs with capacities up to 480 GB.

Unfortunately, none of the MacBook Air models are able to take more than 4 GB of RAM, which is soldered onto the logic board.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve picked up a new MacBook Air, please let us know how the experience has been.

Apple to release Mac OS X 10.7 upgrade on USB thumb drives for August, will retail for $69

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 12:51
Category: News, Software

If you’re hankering for your version of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on a physical medium, Apple has announced that the company will release the on a USB thumb drive through its online store in August, but at a cost more than twice the price of the Mac App Store.

Apple revealed on Wednesday that Lion will be available on a USB thumb drive through its online store “later this August.” It will carry a price of US$69, or more than twice the US$29.99 cost of downloading Lion from the Mac App Store.

For users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school, Apple is also offering customers the ability to download the multi-gigabyte install at its retail stores immediately.

Those who opt to buy a new Mac won’t need to worry about downloading Lion from the Mac App Store, as all new computers sold by Apple will come preinstalled with the next-generation operating system. That includes already released devices, like the latest MacBook Pro and iMac, as well as Wednesday’s newly released hardware: MacBook Airs and Mac minis.

Apple’s white legacy MacBook shifted over to education marketplace

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 03:11
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, News

Following up on yesterday’s story that Apple had removed its US$999 white entry-level MacBook from its inventory, the company has apparently kept the notebook available for eduction institutions only.

Per AppleInsider, Apple surprised on Wednesday when it suddenly pulled the white MacBook from its site, bringing a faster-than-expected transition to the new 11.6-inch MacBook Air as the only $999 notebook in Apple’s lineup.

According to sources, monthly shipments for the Core 2 Duo MacBook had fallen to between 80,000 and 100,000 units, comprising less than 10 percent of the Apple’s total Mac shipments in the first half of 2011.

Since then, Apple has announced to resellers that its white MacBook, model No. MC516, is available for education institutions only. Channel backlog and non-direct education institution customers will see their orders canceled effective immediately.

The MacBook will remain available to partners via Apple’s online reseller stores only for education institutions. The company did not offer a timeframe for which the entry-level notebook will remain available.

The white polycarbonate MacBook was Apple’s only US$999 notebook for years, but that changed in 2010 when the redesigned MacBook Air was launched. That included a new entry-level 11.6-inch model at the same price point which found instant success on the market.

The MacBook Air offers some key advantages over the white MacBook, namely fast NAND flash memory for storage, an ultraportable thin-and-light design, and a durable aluminum unibody construction. But the MacBook also sports a larger 13-inch display, features an optical drive, includes a built-in Ethernet port, and has more hard drive space.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple discontinues $999 white MacBook

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 07:22
Category: MacBook, News

It’s kind of turning into a day of days, news-wise.

In the midst of news, updates and product releases, Apple has officially axed the US$999 white plastic MacBook, which has held down the low-cost end of Apple’s laptop line for years.

Per Macworld, the notebook was bumped off by the brand new US$999 MacBook Air, which boasts a Thunderbolt port and Intel Core i5 processors over the MacBook. As of now, if you want to buy the lowest-price Mac laptop available, it will still cost US$999—but now it’ll have an 11.6-inch display and a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor. Users who demand a 13-inch laptop will now pay US$200 more—the base-level 13-inch MacBook Pro retails for US$1199.

Still, it had a good run… and if you need any consolation, I’ve made a stack of G4 Cube units into a pretty nifty local bar in your area.

Apple releases Safari 5.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 07:29
Category: News, Software

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Amidst all the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion/brand-new-MacBook Air-with-Thunderbolt-and-Sandy-Bridge hubbub, Apple also released Safari 5.1, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 47.5 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

– Reading List: Easily add webpages and links to your Reading List to browse when you have time.

– New Process Architecture: Safari has been re-engineered for improved stability and responsiveness.

– Resume: In the General pane of Safari preferences, you can now choose to launch Safari with the windows from your last browsing session.

– Better Privacy: A new Privacy pane in Safari preferences makes it easy to remove data that websites can leave on your system.

Other improvements include:
– Private AutoFill: Safari lets you fill out forms quickly while keeping your personal information private.

– Find Option: When you use Find, you can choose whether you want to search for text that contains or starts with the text that you type in the search field.

– Drag-and-drop Downloads: You can drag items out of the Downloads window in Safari, so you can easily place downloaded files on the Desktop.

– Advanced Web Technologies: Safari introduces support for full-screen webpages, media caching with the HTML5 application cache, MathML, Web Open Font Format, CSS3 Auto-hyphenation, CSS3 Vertical Text, CSS3 Text Emphasis, Window.onError, and Formatted XML files.

– New Extension APIs: Developers can take advantage of new Safari Extension support for popovers, menus, new event classes, and interaction with Reader.

Safari 5.1 is available on Mac OS X via Software Update or via direct download from Apple and requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge, backlit keyboard-equipped MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 05:21
Category: MacBook Air, News

You might have been waiting for this.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday the long-anticipated new version of its MacBook Air notebook, equipping the ultraportables with Thunderbolt ports, backlit keyboards and Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors offering up to twice the performance of their predecessors.

Like the previous generation models, the new MacBook Airs start at US$999 for the entry-level model. They are available for order today and will be in stores on Thursday.

The MacBook Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models that Apple boasts easily slip into a briefcase, purse or bag. The MacBook Air’s durable aluminum unibody enclosure measures 0.11 inches at its thinnest point and 0.68 inches at its thickest.

The notebooks all feature flash for instant-on and fast data access, improved reliability and incredible energy efficiency. The 11-inch model weighs 2.38 pounds and provides up to 5 hours of battery life, while the 13-inch weighs 2.96 pounds and provides up to 7 hours of battery life.

With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is said to be up to twice as fast as the previous generation. The new notebooks also also feature Intel HD Graphics 3000 and offer up to 4GB of faster 1333 MHz memory.

Thunderbolt I/O technology provides expansion possibilities never before available to MacBook Air users. Through a single cable, users can connect to high performance peripherals and the new Apple Thunderbolt Display. Thunderbolt can easily be adapted to support legacy connections such as FireWire and Gigabit Ethernet.

The MacBook Air comes with a full size backlit keyboard and a glass Multi-Touch trackpad. The backlit keyboard uses a sensor to automatically detect a change in ambient lighting and adjusts the keyboard brightness for any environment.

The Multi-Touch trackpad supports Lion’s new Multi-Touch gestures such as momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps.

MacBook Air also features a high resolution LED backlit display. MacBook Air also includes Bluetooth for wireless peripherals and two USB ports for wired and wireless devices.

The new MacBook Air also meets Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold status Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Every new MacBook Air comes with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, along with the iLife suite. Lion features more than 250 new features to the Mac, including Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control for a view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store,; Launchpad, iPad-like home screen for apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple slated to release Mac OS X 10.7, next-gen MacBook Air on Wednesday

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Date: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 05:49
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor, Software

It’s the rumor mill that keeps life interesting…

Per AppleInsider, Apple could launch both its Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and its widely anticipated Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air notebooks on Wednesday.

According to sources with proven track records, the new product launches are set to occur later this week. Specifically, one person said the products would be released on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

The latest details align with what rumors that have been circulating this month, when it reported that new MacBook Air models with backlit keyboards and Thunderbolt ports would launch the week of July 21.

Those details were reaffirmed late last week in a separate report that corroborated other details, including the fact that Apple is expected to do away with the entry-level 64GB solid-state flash hard drive option. Instead, the new MacBook Airs are expected to have a minimum of 128GB in capacity.

The new notebooks, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, are also expected to come with 4GB of RAM as the standard. That extra memory will allow the systems to better run Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple’s next-generation operating system, also said to become available this week.

Apple has been holding off on the introduction of new Mac hardware until it finally releases Lion. Apple has not offered a specific launch date for the operating system, only promising that it will become available on the Mac App Store for US$29.99 at some point in July.

A few weeks ago, Apple began undertaking preparatory measures to unveil Lion. While it was initially believed that the operating system could have gone on sale as soon as last week, there have been rumors of last-minute holdups associated with the logistics and infrastructure related to Apple’s switch to a digital distribution method through the Mac App Store.

The Golden Master of Lion was seeded to developers on July 1. The term “Golden Master” means that the software is viewed as a final build that will be identical to the software released to the general public.

While Lion and the new MacBook Air models are said to be set to launch this week, there has been no specific indication given regarding any other hardware. However, Apple provided its own evidence of a forthcoming refresh to its LED Cinema Display last week, when it posted images on its site showing a Thunderbolt-equipped display with the new part number “MC914.”

Supply of Apple’s white MacBook has also been severely constrained since late June, suggesting a change to the product could be forthcoming. Since then, there has been no indication of an imminent hardware refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.