Apple releases MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 for 2010 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple issued a MacBook Air EMI firmware resolving an issue where the ultra-thin laptop boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive.

Per AppleInsider, the MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 is recommended for all 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air (late 2010) models and requires Mac OS X 10.6.5 to install and run. The update addresses a “rare issue” where the MacBook Air is unresponsive or displays just a black screen after booting or waking.

Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Air in October at its “Back to the Mac event.” As predicted by AppleInsider the Mac maker released an 11.6″ version of the ultra-portable notebook and abandoned mechanical hard disk drives in favor of custom solid state storage.

On the day of the revamped MacBook Air’s unveiling, Apple released a software update for the product, resolving a problem where the MacBook Air became unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display was connected.

Shortly after the release of the MacBook Air, reports emerged that users were experiencing problems ranging from faulty logic boards to display issues. One issue, detailed on an Apple support thread, involved a flickering or frozen screen. It is not clear whether Apple’s EFI firmware update specifically addresses this issue.

Despite scattered reports of issues with the MacBook Air, the laptop has continued to sell well, especially the 11-inch model. The US$999 11.6″ MacBook Air’s ship times slipped from within 24 hours to 1-3 business days in the first week after its release.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple nixes PhotoFast 256GB MacBook Air upgrade kit

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Date: Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, 12:46
Category: MacBook Air, News

It was good while it lasted.

Per 9to5 Mac, Apple has quietly stopped third-party outfitter PhotoFast from selling the 256GB MacBook Air SSD upgrade kit, the company’s product page returning a 404 error this morning.

The kit included a 256GB upgrade chip as well as a USB 3.0 housing for the 64GB chip currently in the 11.6″ MacBook Air. Plus, it could read and write at 250MB/s while Apple’s SSD clocks in between 150MB/s and 160MB/s.

PhotoFast is currently licensed with Apple to make Apple accessories through the MFi Program, a privilege that could have been lost.

Apple releases Boot Camp 3.2 update

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Date: Friday, November 19th, 2010, 03:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its Boot Camp 3.2 update (a 280 megabyte download for the 32-bit version of Windows and a 121 megabyte download for the 64-bit version of Windows), a package that added the following changes and fixes for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 under Boot Camp:

- Adds support for the ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card.

- Adds support for the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter.

- Adds support for the MacBook Air SuperDrive.

- Addresses critical bug fixes.

This update is highly recommended for all Boot Camp 3.1 users and can be located and snagged on the Windows side via the Apple Software Update application.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Adobe looking to settle battery life argument, currently testing MacBook Air-specific version of Flash

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Date: Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, 20:27
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Following a brief period of controversy regarding Flash and its relationship with specific hardware, Adobe’s chief executive revealed this week that his company is currently testing an optimized version of Flash built specifically for Apple’s newly released MacBook Air.

Per Engadget, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said that Adobe is looking to improve battery life on the MacBook Air with a new custom build of Adobe Flash, currently in beta testing in the company’s labs. According to Engadget, he noted that battery life performance depends on hardware acceleration.

“When we have access to hardware acceleration, we’ve proven that Flash has equal or better performance on every platform,” he said.

His comments come after testing of the new MacBook Air found that ditching Flash improved battery life by two hours. The new notebook gets six hours of uptime loading pages in the Safari browser, but that dips to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed.

Apple caused a stir in October, when it released its newly redesigned MacBook Air models, but shipped them without the Flash plugin preinstalled. Apple portrayed the change as an advantage to consumers, as leaving the user to install Flash ensures they have the latest version.

Apple and Adobe have been at odds in 2010, in a feud that gained considerable steam after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs published an open letter criticizing Flash as old technology that is unfit for the modern era of mobile computers. Apple does not allow Flash onto its iOS-powered devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

Jobs also revealed that Flash is the number one reason for crashes on the Mac platform. For its part, Adobe fired back and said that any crashes of Flash in Mac OS X are not related to its software, but are instead the fault of Apple’s operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Toshiba announces release of MacBook Air-compatible SSD drives

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Date: Tuesday, November 9th, 2010, 06:06
Category: hard drive, MacBook Air, News

Electronics manufacturer Toshiba announced the release of its Blade X-gale solid state drives this week. The drives feature capacities up to 256 gigabytes of storage. Per MacRumors, Toshiba’s part numbers are exactly the same as the components found inside the MacBook Air. The internal solid state drives also come in the same three capacities: 64GB, 128GB and 256GB.

The components offer a maximum sequential read speed of 220MB per second, and a maximum sequential write speed of 180MB per second. The 64GB and 128GB Blade X-gale SSDs have a thickness of just 2.2mm, while the 256GB capacity is slightly thicker.

The drives are available for sale to device manufacturers and bulk purchasers, meaning individual users will not be able to buy one direct yet from Toshiba.

Apple’s newly redesigned MacBook Air arrives with screen sizes from 11.6″ to 13.3″ with the smaller model holding up to 128GB of SSD storage, while the larger 13.3″ MacBook Air can hold 256GB of storage.

The availability of Toshiba’s “blade-type SSD modules” to resellers and other component makers means users who need to replace or upgrade the solid state drive in their MacBook Air will have an easier time finding replacement parts.

The solid state drives allow the new MacBook Air models to offer instant-on capabilities when returning from sleep. The hardware on the 13″ model is said to be comparable in terms of performance to Apple’s 13″ MacBook Pro, thanks to the speedy SSD found in the MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Internal memo: Apple acknowledges second-gen MacBook Air graphics issue, fix apparently in the works

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:47
Category: MacBook Air, News

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An internal memo allegedly leaked from Apple seems to support display issues experienced by some owners of the new MacBook Air notebook as well as indicate that an upcoming software update will fix the problems.

The purported memo, obtained by Boy Genius Report, acknowledges that Apple is aware of the issue and is “working on a solution” in the form of an upcoming software update. The company notes that customers have reported horizontal screen flickering on the 13″ model, while users of both the 11″ and 13″ notebooks have reported that the screen fades to light colors after waking from sleep.

The note claims that the causes of both the flickering and fading issues have been “isolated,” but does not indicate when Apple might release the software update to address the problems.

Apple representatives are also instructed to have customers attempt a resolution that involves closing the MacBook Air lid, waiting 10 seconds, and then re-opening the lid to wake the computer up. Doing so forces the display to power cycle, and should resolve the issue.

The MacBook Air screen flickering issue gained attention earlier this week. Users on Apple’s support forums have also reported vertical lines and odd colors on their screens, as well as freezing issues and trouble with the new instant-on feature.

Some have speculated that the display problems on the new MacBook Air models could be caused by the logic board of the hardware.

The new 11.6″ and 13.3″ MacBook Air models were released last month, and represent Apple’s thinnest and lightest notebooks. The new, smaller 11.6-inch model has a starting price of just US$999 with and all models relying on the Nvidia GeForce 320M for graphics capabilities.

New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Second-gen MacBook Air may be demonstrating logic board errors

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Date: Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010, 14:42
Category: MacBook Air, News

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This could be a bit foreboding.

Per Cult of Mac, a rising number of complaints from users of the new MacBook Air has appeared regarding kernel panics, video distortion and other issues that could be related to defective logic boards.

Apple Discussion forum user, DanRyb, basically stated that his 11-inch model would randomly display “weird colors in vertical lines” extending across the entire screen and the machine would freeze. He was forced to power cycle the computer in order to recover.

Another forum user, Hobokendippy, reported that his 13-inch model had crashed three times twice with a blank screen and once with the screen distortion reported by DanRyb.

One user has posted a video to YouTube showing a display issue with the new 11-inch MacBook Air.

In addition to the video distortion, Cult of Mac staff have reported several kernel panics experienced on both the 11″ and 13″ models, although the extent of the problem is not yet known.

The issue, according to a testimonial on Macworld, seems to be intermittent with neither a PRAM fix or an SMC reset resolving the issue:

“Sadly, I can personally confirm these issues: Just two days after unboxing my 11-inch Air – the base model with 4GB of RAM – the notebook randomly cut to a gray screen during Screen Sharing and only a reboot could cure it. In the ensuing days, I’ve seen my Air’s screen turn a variety of colors: gray again, tan, gray-black, and – on Monday – blue! (Let’s everyone get their Blue Screen of Death jokes out of the way now, please.)

As I was working on something different in every instance, it was hard to say exactly what triggered the crashes, though Screen Sharing has been the culprit at least twice. Neither a PRAM nor SMC reset did much to help.”

While the issues do not yet appear to be affecting all MacBook Air machines and some number of defective units is to be expected, the growing number of complaints suggests that the new machines may be experiencing a higher-than-normal rate of failure. Apple did issue a software update addressing graphics issues on the new MacBook Air just as it was released, but several users have reported experiencing these graphics-related problems even after applying the update.

Finally, the following YouTube footage captures the issue in action:



If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know!!!

TSA to allow 11.6″ MacBook Air to remain in bags during security screenings

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Date: Friday, October 29th, 2010, 04:18
Category: MacBook Air, News

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Good news for travelers: Your late 2010 11″ MacBook Air notebook will note have to be removed from its bag at security checkpoints in U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration has announced.

Per CNN, TSA spokesperson Nicholas Kimball has stated that the new 11″ MacBook Air is small enough that it doesn’t need to be removed from a bag when going through an X-ray machine at airport security. Larger devices, including the MacBook Pro, must be removed from a bag when being scanned so that TSA officials can get a closer look at the internal components.

“If someone has a lot of stuff in their bag, it’s sometimes difficult to get a clear view of it,” Kimball reportedly said. “It might need some additional screening.”

TSA has not yet made a decision on the larger, 13″ MacBook Air, which means travelers will likely have to take the notebook out of their bag for the time being. But the larger MacBook Air could be exempt in the future, because it also lacks an optical disc drive, as well as a traditional hard drive.

Apple’s new 11.6″ and 13.3″ MacBook Airs were unveiled earlier this month, and the larger model weighs just 2.9 pounds. Both devices rely on flash memory for storage, making the hardware smaller and faster than a traditional laptop.

Earlier this year, when the iPad launched, TSA announced that fliers could leave their iPad in a carry-on bag when going through security. The minimal amount of components inside the iPad makes it easier for security officials to analyze in an X-ray machine.

Officials can, however, ask a traveler to remove their iPad, MacBook Air or any other electronic device if they cannot get a clear image of it in an X-ray scanner.

TechRestore offering matte screen replacement service for 2010 MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Tuesday, October 26th, 2010, 05:04
Category: MacBook Air, News

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Within days of Apple launching its new MacBook Air notebook, third-party outfitter launched a matte finish screen replacement for the stock glossy screen.

Per the Apple Core, CEO Shannon Jean stated that the company is now using the same panel that Apple does (apparently there’s only one panel like it being made right now) and exactly what the new process is like to get into the screen.

The following pretty much describes it:

“It’s much more difficult. The screen is paper thin and it’s not inside a housing like the traditional screens. It’s in layers, it’s insane. It’s very similar to a Sony PSP screen, where the LCD panel and backlight are separate pieces.”



Jean went on to describe that the new screen is not encased in a typical screen housing and that Apple kept the parts separate. The end result is that getting the screen out proves to be a challenge and replacing the screen will require a dust-free environment, since you’re essentially peeling back the screen like an onion (if you scratch the backlight layer it will show up through the LCD. If you get dirt or dust in between the LCD and reflective layers, this will also show up…)

Final pricing for the service appears to be up in the air, so stay tuned for additional details as they become available.