Intel-based MacBook Air batteries show best-ever test results according to Macworld Lab

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Date: Thursday, June 20th, 2013, 06:02
Category: battery, MacBook Air, News

The new MacBook Air batteries have been tested.

And you’ll probably like the results.

Per Macworld, the Macworld Lab has completed its run of tests on Apple’s new battery for its updated Haswell-based MacBook Air notebook. And while Macworld Lab didn’t experience the 12-hour battery life cited by Apple, the tests do show that the new MacBook Air lasts considerably longer than before. The results were better than anything seen before by the lab.

The tests were run with the brightness set to maximum and made sure that automatic brightness adjustment was off, backlit keyboards were off, and Screen Saver was set to never start.

In the first test, the lab looped a movie clip in full screen mode with Wi-Fi disabled. The new 11-inch MacBook Air lasted 6 hours and 6 minutes, compared to just 3 hours and 34 minutes for the 2012 model. The new 13-inch standard configuration MacBook Air lasted 8 hours and 18 minutes, 36 percent longer than the new 11-inch MacBook Air, and 65 percent longer than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air. Compared to a 2013 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the 13-inch MacBook Air lasted 75 percent longer.

The lab also ran the tests on “ultimate” configure-to-order (CTO) MacBook Air models from this year and from last year. There wasn’t too much of a battery life hit on the new CTO model compared to the standard configuration; the standard configuration model lasted just 11 minutes longer than the CTO unit that has a faster processor, more RAM, and twice the hard drive capacity. Comparing this year’s CTO “ultimate” to last year’s, they saw that the new model lasted 65 percent longer.

The second run of tests used Futuremark’s free Peacekeeper browser test, which has an option to run the online test repeatedly and report the time at which the system being tested stops responding. This test is much more taxing than the movie playback, using more of the system’s memory and processor. Hence, the lab found that the notebooks couldn’t last as long when running the Peacekeeper test, but did find that the performance still scaled as expected.

In the Peacekeeper tests, the new 13-inch standard configuration MacBook Air lasted the longest at 5 hours and 45 minutes, which was 2.5 hours less than in the movie test. The new 13-inch standard configuration model lasted 41 percent longer than the new 11-inch model and 25 percent longer than the new CTO MacBook Air. It should be pointed out, however, that the CTO Air outscored the new stock 13-inch MacBook Air by about 20 percent in the tasks that Peacekeeper repeatedly runs during its battery test. The new standard configuration 13-inch Air lasted 63 percent longer than last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air and 67 percent longer than the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The increased battery life is the result of two under-the-hood changes to the MacBook Air. First off, there is more battery capacity. iFixit’s teardown demonstrated that the new models using slightly higher capacity batteries. Second, the new MacBook Air has also switched from using Intel’s third generation Ivy Bridge Core processors to fourth generation Haswell processors. A key difference between the generations is decreased power consumption, which results in increased battery life on the portables it powers.

If you’ve picked up a new Haswell-based MacBook Air notebook and have any feedback about its battery life, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18494

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 05:52
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18494 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 336.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Use Parallels Desktop with OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview (experimental support).

- Work with Parallels Desktop on new MacBooks Air (Mid-2013).

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

iFixit completes Haswell-based MacBook Air teardown, finds changes in battery, SSD, other modules

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Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 06:21
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

The Haswell-based MacBook Air is out, and in their usual fine style, the ubergeeks at iFixit have completed a full teardown of the notebook. Per AppleInsider, the updated notebook features minor changes seen in battery size, the SSD module and integrated graphics, among others.

Most notable among the hardware revisions is an enlarged battery, which moves from a 7.3V 6700mAh pack to a 7.6V 7150mAh unit. The cells still dominate the Air’s innards.


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Apple touts the new 13-inch model will last 12 hours on a charge, but the battery is not thought to be the main contributor to that spec buff. Instead, the Air uses Intel’s Haswell ULT silicon, which offers huge decreases in power consumption while serving up snappier performance.

With Haswell, Intel moved to its next-generation integrated graphics solution, Intel HD Graphics 5000, which doesn’t require a separate board.

Adding to the updated component list is a new SSD module from Samsung, which is smaller than similar parts used in previous MacBook Air iterations. With the new size comes new technology, as the latest SSD unit uses a PCIe bus rather than SATA, a first for Mac. PCIe can achieve rates of up to 800MB/s, while SATA is limited to about 600MB/s.

The new Air is also the first to employ the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol, which required the computer’s wireless card to be updated. Apple launched redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models to take advantage of the new standard, and is planning on incorporating the technology into future Macs as they roll out.

The only change made to the MacBook Air’s chassis is a hole to accommodate the addition of a second internal microphone used for sound cancellation duties.

Other smaller tweaks include a redesigned heat sink clamp, repositioned speaker cabling and a revamped MagSafe 2 board that no longer holds a socket for the laptop’s iSight camera.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new MacBook Air and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Haswell-based MacBook Air sports record-breaking SSD benchmark test results, PCIe bus cited

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Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 07:52
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

If you were considering snagging a brand new, just-released MacBook Air notebook, you’re going to like this.

Per 9to5Mac and French web site MacBidouille, Apple’s new Haswell-powered MacBook Airs produced SSD read and write speeds so fast in bench tests that they initially thought it must have been a bug in their test software. A second run in different software revealed that, no, the latest Airs really do offer read & write speeds higher than the maximum possible with SATA 3.

The secret is that Apple is using the same PCIe-based SSDs in the latest MacBook Air as they announced for the new Mac Pro …

On the storage front, Apple officially leads the charge with the move to PCIe based SSDs. The upcoming Mac Pro, as well as the new MacBook Airs both use PCIe based SSDs instead of SATA drives. A quick look at OS X’s system profiler reveals a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface, capable of 1GB/s in each direction.

PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is the standard already used in the ExpressCard slot used in some notebooks, and offers a direct link to the motherboard without the bottleneck created by a SATA interface (SATA 3 tops out at 600MB/s).

A series of tests over on AnandTech confirmed MacBidouille‘s results, with even higher speeds seen on larger file transfers, describing it as the first time PCIe storage has been seen in a mainstream consumer device.

While Apple’s focus for the new CPU was better battery-life rather than faster speed, tests show that the processor speeds are 3-8% faster than the previous models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers first look at next-gen Mac Pro at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:47
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

The new Mac Pro is en route.

And it’s really, really, awesomely black.

Per Macworld, Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller unveiled the company’s upcoming Mac Pro during a “sneak peek” at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

The upcoming new desktop workstation features a sleek, cylindrical design that’s a stark contrast to the mammoth, roomy aluminum tower initially introduced with the PowerPC-based Power Mac G5 in 2003, and revised with the release of the Intel-based Mac Pro in 2006. Apple didn’t announce a formal ship date, stating that the new Mac Pro will ship later this year, nor did it talk about pricing or specific models. It will be designed and constructed in the United States.


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The new 9.9-inch tall Mac Pro case is about one-eighth the size of the Mac Pro tower and features a handle for carrying, and a motion sensor lights up to show the I/O ports. The new design, according to Schiller, is based around a “unified thermal core” to help keep the machine cool.

The unit will feature a Xeon E5 processor, which is based on Intel’s Haswell microarchitecture and introduced by the company last April. Configuration with 12-cores will be available, and all Mac Pros will use third-generation PCI Express architecture. Apple is also using 1866MHz ECC DDR3 RAM.

Schiller also went to great lengths to emphasize the new Mac Pro’s graphics performance. The machine will have dual AMD FirePro workstation-class GPUs, and be able to run three 4K displays at one time. Apple says the new Mac Pro’s graphics performance is 2.5 times faster than its predecessor.

The Mac Pro is designed for speed, and Apple is outfitting the machine with PCIe-based flash memory, not traditional SATA hard drives or solid-state drives. Apple touts speeds of 1.25 GBps for reads and 1.0 GBps for writes.

The computer will include the following ports:
- Audio out

- Headphone jack

- Four USB 3 ports

- Six Thunderbolt 2 ports

- Two gigabit Ethernet ports

- HDMI out

- Power

The most remarkable change with the Mac Pro is the elimination of expansion slots. The previous Mac Pro had a pair of 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 slots and a pair of 4-lane PCI Express 2.0 slots. For current owners who have filled their Mac Pro’s slots and still need to use their cards, you’ll have to invest in an external Thunderbolt expansion chassis that will house expansion cards and connect to the new Mac Pro via Thunderbolt.

During the new Mac Pro presentation, there was no visual evidence of an optical drive. With the elimination of the optical drive from the Mac mini, iMac, MacBook Air, and Retina MacBook Pro computers.

Each Thunderbolt 2 port supports up to six daisy-shained devices. With six Thunderbotl 2 ports, the Mac Pro can support up to 36 Thunderbolt peripherals.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon runs out of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, rumors hint at new model to be announced at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

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When the inventories run low, there’s generally some cool stuff around the corner.

Or the retailer REALLY needs to order some more stock.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after new details surfaced suggesting that Apple could introduce a slimmed-down version of its popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display next week, one of the company’s largest resellers — Amazon.com — is sold out of the current entry-level model.

The high-profile stockout comes just a week before Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a keynote presentation — a stage frequently used to unveil new products and innovations. This year, the company is expected to showcase its new next-generation operating system software for the Mac and iOS devices — OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 — in addition to highlighting some new Mac notebooks powered by Intel’s new Haswell processors

Well-connected industry watch Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed on Sunday that Apple plans to launch a slimmed-down 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at WWDC. He said the tweaked design will feature a thinner chassis, giving the professional-grade notebook a more portable form factor.

In addition, it’s said that the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will sport an improved FaceTime HD camera, which could move from a current resolution of 720p to 1080p, or “full HD.” For his part in attempting to predict Apple’s future product plans through insight into the company’s operations out East, Ming-Chi Kuo sports one of the industry’s most respectable track records in recent years.

Amazon’s stockout applies to Apple’s entry-level 13-inch model, sporting a 2.5-gigahertz Intel Core i5 processor and 128 gigabytes of flash storage. Low inventory levels at authorized resellers are often one of the first signs of new hardware on the horizon, as Apple draws down its available inventory ahead of a new product launch.

While the entry-level model is sold out, Amazon still has remaining inventory of the higher end models with 256 gigabytes of flash storage, at processor speeds of 2.5 gigahertz and 2.6-gigahertz.

In addition, other resellers still have inventory of the two default configurations of Apple’s larger 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, which are the 2.4-gigahertz model with 256 gigabytes of storage and 8 gigabytes of RAM, and the 2.7-gigahertz variety with 512 gigabytes of storage and 16 gigabytes of RAM. The latest rumors have not offered any indication that Apple plans to update the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro next week, suggesting that a refresh to add Intel’s Haswell processors may come at a later date.

However, Apple is expected to bring Haswell to its MacBook Air lineup at WWDC next week, with new models sporting dual microphones for better voice recognition. AppleInsider was first to report on widespread stockouts of MacBook Air models at resellers in recent weeks leading up to WWDC.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop corroborated rumors of new Macs at WWDC last week when he signaled that updated hardware will likely be unveiled. The company is also planning to show off new versions of iOS and OS X, but is not expected to launch any new iPhone or iPad models.

Stay tuned for up to the minute coverage come WWDC next week.

13-inch MacBook Air inventory beginning to come up short, new models expected around WWDC

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Date: Monday, May 20th, 2013, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, News, retail

When the inventory numbers trend downwards, the cool new stuff tends to be around the corner.

Per AppleInsider, availability of Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air had apparently begun to dry up at major authorized resellers.

The popular 13-inch MacBook Air with a 1.8-gigahertz processor and 256-gigabyte solid-state drive is currently out of stock at resellers Amazon, B&H, MacConnection, and MacMall. In addition, J&R is currently advertising that the thin-and-light notebook is only available for purchase in its brick-and-mortar stores.

In fact, one of the few resellers that is currently advertising available inventory of that 13-inch MacBook Air configuration is Best Buy.

Constrained availability of existing models is often one of the first signs of an impending product refresh, as Apple draws down inventory in anticipation of the release of new hardware. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled for June 10 through 14, would be an opportune time for the company to introduce newly updated MacBook Airs.

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities indicated last month that Apple apparently plans to introduce new MacBook Airs featuring Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors at WWDC. The new ultraportable notebooks are expected to go on sale before the end of June.

Intel Haswell chips are scheduled to launch the first week of June, boasting more capable processors that will consume less power, leading to longer battery life on notebooks. The chips will also feature next-generation Intel HD 5000 integrated graphics that will offer a 50 percent in improvement over the previous 4000-class.

Kuo also said that Apple will likely introduce Haswell-powered MacBook Pro models at WWDC 2013. He expects that updated versions of the legacy, optical-drive-equipped MacBook Pro will launch alongside new MacBook Airs before the end of June, while a refresh of the premium Retina display MacBook Pro models will become available at a later date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.0 for mid-2012 MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Friday, May 17th, 2013, 05:20
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

If you’re using a mid-2012 MacBook Air, you’re going to want to snag this.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple on Thursday released its MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.0, a 1.69 megabyte download that helps to address problems with the device recovering from a crash. Apple release notes said the update addresses “a storage firmware issue that, in rare cases, may cause a system to fail to recover from crash.”

The update requires a mid-2012 MacBook Air notebook running OS X 10.7.5 or OS X 10.8.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Best Buy offers discounts on MacBook Air, iTunes gift cards, iPhone 4S handsets

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Date: Thursday, May 9th, 2013, 06:22
Category: iPhone, MacBook Air, News, retail

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If you’re looking for something to get mum for Mother’s Day, this could come in handy.

Per 9to5Mac, Best Buy is discounting US$125 off the price of MacBook Airs for the next three days to celebrate Mother’s Day. The retailer knocks off US$100 across the board, then using code MOM25 knocks off another US$25.

Prices after discount:
- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/64GB: US$874.99

- 11.6″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$974.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/128GB: US$1074.99

- 13.3″ MacBook Air 4GB/256GB: US$1274.99

Best Buy is also offering a US$100 iTunes gift cad for US$85. Those interested in an iPhone 4S can pick one up for $50 with contract.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen some Mother’s Day tech sales of your own, please let us know in the comments.