Rumor: Additional details emerge from leaked next-gen MacBook Air photos

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Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 04:05
Category: MacBook Air, photos, Rumor

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Additional details have surfaced regarding Apple’s upcoming next-gen MacBook Air notebook. Per AppleInsider, a source has claimed the 11.6″ MacBook Air won’t replace the 13.3″ model, but will instead complement it as a more aggressively-priced option.

The following notes have also come to light:
- Both the new 11.6″ and 13.3″ models sport matching outfits in the form of new, all-unibody designs and single button trackpads.

- The port door found on the existing MacBook Air is gone from the new designs, which feature a port layout similar to the existing MacBook Pro notebooks.

- The new “SSD card” storage is based off a SATA connection.

- The base component of both models is just slightly thicker than a standard USB port at its thickest point.

From the following image, along with one also published of the machine’s system profile, it appears that the following facts have been discovered:



- The new SSD card-based storage sits above and to the left of the new battery chamber, which appears to include 4 separate battery components.

- The unit has dual USB ports, one on each side.

- Other I/O include a MagSafe power adapter, mini DisplayPort, and SD card reader.

- The prototype from April is running the same 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor found in the current generation MacBook Air.

- It also has 2GB of memory as standard.

- Bus speed clocks in at 1.07GHz.

- The unit identifies itself as MacBook Air 3,1.

We’ll get you additional details as they become available and if you have a comment to hurl in, we’d love to hear it.

Next-gen MacBook Air pics leaked

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

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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:





Analyst points to supply chain activity, cites strong evidence for new Apple sub-notebook on horizon

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Date: Thursday, October 14th, 2010, 05:16
Category: MacBook Air, News

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Recent activity within Apple’s supply chain throughout 2010 has shown signs that the company is gearing up to introduce a new notebook that doesn’t fit into any of its existing hardware designs, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Per AppleInsider, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in a recent note to clients that a new MacBook Air from Apple appears increasingly likely to make an appearance during next Wednesday’s special “Back to the Mac” event, which is set to take place at 10:00 am local time on the company’s Cupertino campus.

“Our checks with supply chain sources over the last 6-9 months have indicated evidence of a new subnotebook form factor,” he wrote. “We had thought it would be released earlier this year but believe it may finally see the light of day as the new MacBook Air.”

Meanwhile, other “industry sources” have reportedly informed the analyst that Apple is making much progress in the area of “true” multi-touch Macs. Such products are believed to be more feasible today than ever, given the success of the 9.7″ iPad which is believed to be helping to bring down the cost of touchscreens and substrates, which have previously been prohibitively expensive.

Wu also claimed that the next version of Apple’s iLife application suite, which his “sources have indicated has undergone extensive testing,” could be unveiled along with a preview of Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” and possible speed bumps to the MacBook and MacBook Pro line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

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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.

Rumor: Apple prepping smaller, lighter MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, September 24th, 2010, 05:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Things may be about to change for Apple’s MacBook Air, the super-slim notebook perhaps receiving an LED-backlit display nearly two inches smaller than the current model.

Per DigiTimes, Apple has watched sales of its ultra-portable trickle off to levels believed to be immaterial to its bottom line. As such, the product line has received little attention from the company, undergoing just two minor revisions in a 29-month span — the latter of which took place well over a year ago.

At just 0.76″ at its thickest point, the MacBook Air is undoubtedly slim enough for its target audience of business travelers and those consistently on the go. However, sales of the device suggest that its 13.3″ footprint and 3 pound carrying weight may be a bit more than that class of customers would prefer, especially given the resounding success of Apple’s more compact and lighter 9.7″ iPad.

In an effort to make the design of the Air more appealing and further differentiate the notebook from the company’s mainstream 13.3″ MacBook, Apple in 2008 reportedly began experimenting with a partial carbon fiber enclosure that would shave upwards of a 100 grams off its weight.

With plans for such a design failing to materialize over the last two years, it’s believed that Apple returned to the drawing board at some point and began crafting a makeover that would deliver both size and weight reductions, further pushing the envelop of ultra-portable notebook computing.

The first evidence to this end arrived earlier this year when an analyst citing sources in Apple’s Taiwanese component supply chain revealed that the company was placing orders for parts to fit a slimmer and lighter MacBook Air based around an 11.6″ LED-lit display and Intel Core i-series ultra-low voltage processor.

On Friday, a new report appears to further corroborate such claims, alleging that Apple’s primary notebook manufacturer Quanta has landed orders to produce the first 400,000-500,000 11.6″ “MacBooks” for delivery to the Mac maker before the end of the 2010 calendar year.

No further details were available from the report. Apple last updated the 13.3″ MacBook Air back in June of 2009 when it dropped the entry-level price to US$1,499 from US$1,799 for a model with a 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. A $1,799 offering based around a 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 128GB solid state drive was also introduced.

Stay tuned for details as they become available.

Apple licenses new durable metal alloy for use in products

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 04:50
Category: News

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Apple has entered into an exclusive agreement to utilize amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures, allowing products that are stronger, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion.

Per AppleInsider, the metal alloys, owned by Liquidmetal Technologies, were developed by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, and their amorphous, non-crystalline structure makes them harder than alloys of titanium or aluminum.

Introduced for commercial applications in 2003 through the Delaware-based Liquidmetal corporation, the product has been used to create technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, has been found in medical equipment, and is even used to create sporting goods like tennis raquets and golf clubs.



In a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Liquidmetal Technologies indicated that it had granted all of its intellectual property assets to Apple. According to the terms of the deal, Apple was awarded “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercial such intellectual property in the field of electronic products in exchange for a license fee.”

Though the licensing agreement grants Apple exclusive use in consumer electronics, Liquidmetal is still allowed to license its products to other companies for any use outside of markets where Apple competes, meaning its deals with defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers are likely to remain intact.

The agreement was made on August 5th, revealed to the SEC on Monday and was signed by Larry Buffington, president and CEO of Liquidmetal Technologies.

The company’s official website gives examples of where Liquidmetal’s products were used in portable electronics in the past. It touts that Liquidmetal alloys are 2.5 times the strength of commonly used titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of stainless steel found in portable electronic devices. The technology is said to allow for thinner, smaller design while offering greater protection for internal components, and giving users a scratch and corrosion resistant exterior.

Past devices where Liquidmetal’s technology was utilized include the Nokia Vertu smartphone, Sandisk Sansa media player, and Sandisk U3 Smart thumb drives. The product was also used to create strong hinge components for devices like flip smartphones.

Apple’s interest in a company like Liquidmetal is no surprise, given its constant desire to create smaller and thinner devices. Apple has also employed a unibody design in its portable computers, beginning in early 2008 with the MacBook Air.

The precision unibody enclosures are milled from a single extruded block of aluminum, allowing devices like the MacBook Pro to become thinner while maintaining a rigid, sturdy frame. Previously, the frames of Apple’s notebooks were made from multiple parts. Now, raw aluminum is carved out using CNC, or “computer numerical control” machines.

Whatever becomes of this, you can’t say it won’t be interesting.

Analyst comments on supply chain, indicates that updated MacBook Air notebooks possible for September

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Date: Monday, August 9th, 2010, 03:28
Category: MacBook Air, News

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A pair of updated MacBook Air notebooks could be en route along with updated iPods this September as analyst Keith Bachman with BMO Capital Markets this week issued a note to investors in which he said Apple will finally update its MacBook Air line next month. Per AppleInsider, Bachman offered the following quote:

“We are not yet clear on all the specs, but supply chain checks suggest that unit shipments o the new Air products could far exceed the current Air, which we believe could suggest lower starting prices,” Bachman wrote. “We project 2.9 million total notebooks in the September quarter, which we believe is reasonable.”

Updates have been repeatedly rumored over the last year but never panned out. The hardware was last updated in June 2009, giving it a Core 2 Duo processor and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics at a lower starting price of US$1,499.

Bachman also spoke of Apple’s anticipated update to its iPod line, though he did not specifically cite any industry insiders in his prediction for a redesigned, “much smaller” iPod nano.

“We believe that the Nano will be much smaller than past versions, and will not have a physical track wheel,” he said, adding that it’s possible that the iPod shuffle could be eliminated if the iPod nano is reduced in size.

Bachman also noted strong iPad and iPhone sales, and said checks in the supply chain indicate that the iPod touch has not been cannibalized by the iPad. BMO Capital Markets has maintained its “outperform” rating for AAPL stock, and has a price target of US$315.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Consuming Lion’s Share of NAND Memory, Hesitant to Negotiate with Suppliers This Quarter

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Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010, 09:53
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

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Even as time goes by, tech parts don’t always get cheaper.

Per DigiTimes, Apple, which already consumes the lion’s share of the global NAND flash memory supply, is apparently reluctant to negotiate with suppliers in 2010 due to high prices.

Although the demand for NAND memory in devices such as memory cards and flash drives has been soft, this hasn’t significantly pushed down chip prices. Major chip suppliers like Samsung have given priority to profitable partnerships over shipment volume, which doesn’t work to the advantage of major buyers like Apple.

In addition to the lower demand, the situation has become even more volatile given that tight foundry capacity is expected to disrupt shipments and have an effect on NAND flash pricing, industry sources reportedly said.

“Some NAND flash controller suppliers,” the report said, “have indicated that their supply may not be able to satisfy customer demand in the second quarter if their foundry partners continue to see tight capacity, the sources said. This supply disruption is likely to impact NAND flash prices for the quarter.”

Industry sources expect the situation to improve in the second quarter of 2010, when they believe Apple may start negotiating long-term supply contracts for NAND flash. The report noted that Apple’s consumption of flash memory will “continue to play a significant role” in the industry this year.

Earlier this month, a rumor came out that the possible success of Apple’s iPad could increase prices of solid state drives. Apple consumes nearly one-third of total NAND flash memory supplies, and its share is expected to grow even more with the launch of the iPad on April 3.

Apple was noted multiple times in 2009 as causing a flash memory shortage due to its iPod and iPhone products consuming the largest share of NAND flash. Industry sources expect the price of NAND flash to continue to rise in 2010.

In addition to most of the iPod lineup and the iPhone, in early 2008, Apple embraced the solid state drive by offering it as an option in its MacBook Air notebook.

MacBook Air Overheating Issue Noted, Fixes Suggested

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Date: Wednesday, July 15th, 2009, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air

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Over on the mighty MacFixIt, reader “Martin V.” wrote in to desribe an ongoing issue wherein his new MacBook Air notebook began to experience a “kernel_task” process that caused his system to run abnormally hot.

“A few months ago I bought a MacBookAir1,1 (standard hard disk, no solid state) which was then hugely reduced in price (€999). Lately it has been nearly impossible to watch youtube video’s (for instance). If I do the machine gets really hot and slows down dramatically. A process called ‘kernel_task’ uses almost all resources. Just do a search on “macbook air” and “kernel_task” and you’ll see this is a widely spread problem”

Over on the Apple Discussion Boards, a large number of users appear to be encountering the same issue with the following solutions being offered:

“it seems to be temperature issue, i.e. the system tries with the kernel task to avoid an overheating of the cpu/gpu.
those guys here (Plasma Design) recommend a cpu undervolting to reduce this heating. they use CoolBook
you can get it for $10. i just installed it and hope that it helps.”

In addition to the Apple Discussions Board back and forth on this, you can also find a full MacRumors forum thread as to how to use CoolBook to best deal with the overheating issue.

Apple Releases MacBook Air Update SMC 1.2

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, 04:56
Category: Mac, MacBook Air, Software

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Apple released its MacBook Air SMC Firmware Update 1.2 patch yesterday, a 623 kilobyte download that offers the following fixes and changes per the web site:

“This SMC firmware update adds compatibility for the latest service replacement batteries…. After this update has successfully completed, your SMC Version will be: 1.23f20 [for original MacBook Air models, or] 1.34f8 [for more recent models].”

SMC Firmware Updates generally control the System Management Controller on Intel-based Macs. The SMC controls power and thermal management features, including the battery and fans. In this case, new replacement batteries from Apple are apparently different enough that they require the use of this updated version of the SMC firmware.

The update can be downloaded directly or snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.