Rumor: Apple prepping ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook for Q2 2012

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Date: Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 04:31
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The nice thing with rumors: there’s generally a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered a “small volume” of components for a 15-inch ultra-thin notebook that could appear as early as the second quarter of 2012.

Upstream suppliers are said to have begun shipping the components this month, though it remains unclear whether the final version of the 15-inch laptop will be marketed as a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro. Based on the timing of the order, sources believe that mass shipments of the device will begin in March of next year.

However, it should be noted that the publication has, as of late, had spotty reliability when it comes to Apple product predictions, though it claims to be well-connected in the Asian supply chain.

Late last month, it was reported that Apple was finishing up a “test phase” for a new thin-and-light 15-inch MacBook. The Mac maker is also rumored to be developing a 17-inch ultraportable MacBook, though such a machine was not mentioned in Tuesday’s report.

According to sources close to the story, Apple appears poised to move its MacBook Pro lines more toward the MacBook Air next year. The company is believed to be interested in bringing features, including instant-on, standard SSD drives, slimmer enclosures and the omission of optical drives, to the MacBook Pro in future designs.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seemed to telegraph such a move last year when he said that the MacBook Air, which had been redesigned to incorporate standout features from the iPad, represented the “future of the MacBook.”

The MacBook Air’s portion of Apple’s total Mac sales saw a significant jump in July after the company released an upgrade with Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge processors and back-lit keyboards. According to a recent analysis, the thin-and-light notebook now makes up 28 percent of Apple’s notebook shipments, up from 8 percent in May and June.

As of the September quarter, portables represented 74 percent of the company’s Mac sales, despite seeing record desktop sales in the same period. Meanwhile, total Mac sales last quarter were the highest ever at 4.85 million units.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray believes the latest NPD domestic sales data point to Apple selling 5.3 million Macs over the holiday quarter. Wall Street consensus for the quarter stands at 5.2 million.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.5 for unspecified MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 11th, 2011, 05:37
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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In addition to the AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule firmware updates, Apple on Friday also released MacBook Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.5, which reportedly “resolves an issue where a MacBook Pro being used with a power adapter may unexpectedly shut down under heavy workload if the battery charge level is near empty.”

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, it’s not entirely clear which models of MacBook Pro are covered by this firmware update.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and requires a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later on the Mac OS X 10.6 end and Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later for the Mac OS X 10.7 end to install and run.

This one’s still sort of up in the air, so if you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any major changes, please let us know in the comments.

64-bit MacBook Pro notebooks may take up to 16GB of RAM

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Date: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011, 06:12
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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In a somewhat surprising discovery, the cool cats at CNET, have discovered that despite the specified amount of RAM your MacBook Pro can max out at, the machine will still recognize and use more RAM if it’s available. With that in mind, the article recommends using the System Profile utility.

It gets interesting from there:

“These days all of Apple’s Macs are 64-bit machines, which means that theoretically they can access terabytes upon terabytes of memory; however, despite this there is a physical hardware limit on the amount of RAM a system can contain. This is true both in terms of physical capability but also in a built-in limit in the system’s memory controllers on how much RAM it can recognize. As a result, despite having 64-bit capability, many systems are built with limitations that allow them to hold a maximum of 4 or 8GB of RAM.

Even though they are 64-bit capable, Apple’s MacBook Pro systems have been offered with 8GB RAM as the maximum configuration. More recent models, including those released in 2011, have been built with a higher RAM limit, so even though Apple only offers 8GB RAM and mentions this as the maximum amount of RAM the systems can hold, in reality they can recognize up to 16GB if you add it.

These systems are the ones with the model number series of MacBookPro8,x or later, which include the following:
- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5

- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5

- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

- MacBook Pro 17-inch 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7

If you have one of these systems, then you should be able to install up to 16GB of RAM if needed, which can be purchased from vendors such as Crucial or Other World Computing.”

While this upgrade is possible, do keep in mind that it will not be cheap. Even though memory prices are very low these days because low PC demand has resulted in a surplus of components, the low prices are only for relatively common RAM modules, which include the 4GB and 8GB modules. The 16GB upgrades are not as common for laptop systems, so expect to pay around US$600 if you want 16GB of RAM in a laptop system.

If you’ve tried this on your MacBook Pro, please let us know how it went and how much you paid for the RAM. Beyond that, have fun and let us know what your notebook’s true maxed out RAM capacity is.

Apple cites iPhone 4S, MacBook Air and Mac mini products as “Bluetooth Smart Ready”

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 11:32
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Mac mini, MacBook Air, News

No one ever said wireless communication with devices was a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s latest products, including the iPhone 4S and updated Mac mini and MacBook Air, are among a group of low-power Bluetooth devices now branded as “Bluetooth Smart Ready.”

Bluetooth Smart is a new brand extension given by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to devices that implement Bluetooth 4.0. Compatible devices include phones, tablets, PCs and TVs.

“Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready devices will revolutionize the way we collect, share and use information,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “In order to ensure consumers know what these extraordinary devices have to offer, we created the Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready marks. These new logos will help consumers manage compatibility, and encourage manufacturers to build their best Bluetooth devices yet.”

Bluetooth Smart devices are sensor-type devices like heart-rate monitors or pedometers. They run on button-cell batteries and were created to collect only a specific piece of information.

Bluetooth Smart Ready devices can connect to traditional Bluetooth devices, as well as new Bluetooth Smart devices that are just starting to enter the market. But Bluetooth Smart devices, because of their lower power consumption, will only connect with products labeled as Bluetooth Smart Ready.

Packages will now carry three potential logos created by the Bluetooth SIG to help consumers identify what their device offers, whether it be traditional Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, or Bluetooth Smart Ready.

“Consumers can look at new Bluetooth Smart Ready devices the same way they would a 3D ready TV — having the TV is just the first part of the puzzle, you need glasses and content in order to really experience 3D,” said Suke Jawanda, CMO of the Bluetooth SIG. “Once consumers have a Bluetooth Smart Ready device, like the new iPhone 4S, they can continue connecting to existing Bluetooth devices and are also ready to experience the new world of Bluetooth Smart peripheral devices that will carry the Bluetooth Smart logo.”

Bluetooth 4.0 support first appeared in Apple’s products in July, when the MacBook Air lineup and Mac mini were refreshed. Other Macs released this year — new iMacs and MacBook Pros — only support Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), but Bluetooth 4.0 also came to the new iPhone 4S released earlier this month.

Apple joined the Bluetooth SIG board of directors in June, and now takes part in overseeing the development of standards and licensing for the short-range wireless technology. When Apple joined, the special interest group said the iPhone maker would provide insight on platform development, as the company understands that technology is now driven by “hub devices” that capture data, utilize data at the application layer, and even upload it to the cloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 4.4.2, MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 firmware fixes

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:02
Category: Apple TV, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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You’ve got to love firmware updates, as they tend to put things back on the right path again.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday issued Apple TV software update 4.4.2 to resolve issues with recent versions of the set-top box’s software, as well as Video Update 1.0 for mid-2010 15-inch MacBook Pros.

Regarding the Apple TV 4.4.2 update, Apple advised users to first reset all settings if they are already running versions 4.4 or 4.4.1.

“Apple TV devices with software version 4.4 and 4.4.1 have an issue with updating software to later versions,” Apple wrote in a support note for the update. “We recognize that this is an inconvenience and apologize.”

Last week, Apple released Apple TV Software Update 4.4.1 to fix minor bugs in version 4.4, but quickly took it down after users reported problems with it.

Released earlier this month, Apple TV software version 4.4 added Photo Stream compatibility, Trailers, Wall Street Journal Live and National Hockey League content. The update also added support for subtitles in Netflix and three new slideshow themes.

The MacBook Pro Video Update 1.0 addresses an issue where 15-inch mid-2010 models would intermittently freeze or stop displaying video. The 70.97MB download requires Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 to install and run.

Apple had previously identified the problem as occurring in 15-inch MacBook Pros manufactured between April 2010 and February 2011. The bug caused both built-in and external displays on some machines to turn black or gray before freezing up or ceasing to display video.

If you’ve tried either update and noticed any changes, please let us know what you make of them in the comments section.

Apple quietly releases updated MacBook Pro notebook models

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Date: Monday, October 24th, 2011, 08:37
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Well, this one came by surprise.

Per AppleInsider, with no mention of the update, Apple on Monday improved its MacBook Pro lineup with slightly faster Intel processors, as well as new graphics processors and larger hard drives in some models.

The new entry-level MacBook Pro now sports a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU. It also features a larger 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive at the same cost of US$1,199.

The faster 13-inch MacBook Pro now boasts a 2.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, and its hard drive has also been upgraded to 750GB. It sells for US$1,499.

For the 15-inch models, both feature quad-core Intel Core i7 processors. The low-end 15-inch has a clock speed of 2.2GHz and a 500GB hard drive, plus a faster AMD Radeon HD 6750M discrete graphics card with 512MB of GDDR5. The faster 15-inch runs at 2.4GHz with a 750GB hard drive and features the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5.

And the updated 17-inch MacBook Pro features a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with a 750GB hard drive, along with the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB of GDDR5. All MacBook Pro models come with 4GB of RAM clocked at 1333MHz standard.

Apple’s top-of-the-line build-to-order 17-inch MacBook Pro offers a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 for an additional US$250, while the RAM can be upgraded to 8GB for another US$200. All MacBook Pro models can also have their hard drives upgraded to solid state capacities up to 512GB for as much as US$1,200.

All of the new MacBook Pros are listed as in stock, and come with free shipping. Monday’s upgrade was done silently by Apple, as the company didn’t even list the updated notebooks as being “new” to the store. As of Monday morning, the iPhone 4S was still listed as Apple’s newest product.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve ordered a new MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple exploring issues between Thunderbolt, Cinema Display hardware

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Date: Monday, September 26th, 2011, 08:04
Category: Hardware, News

Sometimes the newest stuff doesn’t always work the way you’d like it to…

Per AppleInsider, a growing discussion thread on Apple’s boards is filled with users who have experienced issues with their 24-inch Cinema Displays when used with a Thunderbolt port on a new Mac. The thread began in February, just after the new MacBook Pros were released, and new posts continue to be added regularly with users who have experienced screen flickering on the discontinued 24-inch display.

Forum user David Batista sent an e-mail on Friday explaining his own similar issues experienced with multiple 24-inch displays that he owns. He said that none of the Cinema Displays can be used with his new MacBook Pro equipped with Thunderbolt.

“I myself have been on the phone with Apple at least six times now over this,” he wrote. “All they can say is that the engineers are looking into it and hopefully they can find a fix soon.”

Batista said he’s surprised a fix hasn’t been issued considering Thunderbolt ports have been added to new Macs released throughout 2011. The 24-inch Cinema Display was discontinued in 2010 along with the 30-inch model. Apple now offers a single display at 27 inches.

An updated 27-inch model, dubbed a “Thunderbolt Display,” was unveiled by Apple in July. It features Thunderbolt I/O and built-in docking cables for Mac notebooks, and is available for US$999. Orders for the display began shipping last week.

Before Thunderbolt was released this year, Apple’s Cinema Displays were driven by the Mini DisplayPort standard Apple has included in its Macs for years. Thunderbolt ports are the same size as Mini DisplayPort, and are meant to be backward-compatible with earlier hardware, while newer Thunderbolt-equipped devices can handle both video and data over the same 10Gbps copper cable.

Sort of weird that there are backwards compatibility issues with this of all things.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may unveil updated MacBook Pro notebooks before end of 2011

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Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:15
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Just when you’d recently bought a 2011, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro and were feeling somewhat cool.

Per AppleInsider, Apple may be preparing a refresh of its professional notebook line ahead of the holiday shopping season to better bridge the gap.

According to sources close to the story, the late-2011 MacBook Pro refresh will deliver marginal speed bumps to the notebooks’ Core i-Series of Sandy Bridge processors but will otherwise introduce no material changes over the existing models.

While precise timing for the update may change, those same people say the Mac maker currently anticipates an introduction of the refreshed line before the end of the month, possible following the close of the company’s Back-to-School promotion, which ends on September 20th.

Word of the new models comes just one week after Intel quietly refreshed its Sandy Bridge lineup of processors, adding four new Core i7 chips suited for adoption by the MacBook Pro in addition to slashing prices on some other chips, while phasing out a handful of others.

In particular, Intel introduced new 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz and 2.7GHz quad-core Core i7 processors that could replace the 2.0GHz, 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz versions offered in the current 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, in addition to a 2.8GHz dual-core Core i7 that could serve as an upgrade path for the current 2.7GHz 13-inch MacBook Pro.

As for the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, Intel continues to list a couple of Core i5 chips at speeds of 2.5GHz to 2.6GHz that Apple could elect to use to bump 2.3GHz Core i5 MacBook Pro for little to no cost increase.

In addition to these chips, Apple may have discounted access to a handful of older Core i5 and Core i7 chips that were introduced early this year, such as the 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 models.

Although the new models may come as somewhat of a surprise for industry watchers given that there has been no indication that Apple is drawing down inventories of existing models, the refresh is likely geared towards assuring the Mac maker’s top-selling notebook family remains competitive in the market until Intel releases its next-generation Ivy Bridge platform at some point in 2012.

The Ivy Bridge architecture was originally slated to debut in late 2011, but leaked documents from Intel surfaced in May and revealed that the next-generation processors are slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2012. The Ivy Bridge chips are now scheduled to become available at some point in March or April of next year.

The MacBook Pro remains the bread and butter of Apple’s mostly mobile Mac business, even as the newer, thin-and-light MacBook Air gains in sales. Apple’s MacBook Pros are the only notebooks offered by the company that still offer discrete graphics, making them the only option for video professionals and power users on the go.

In addition, the MacBook Pro remains the only Apple notebook with screen sizes larger than 13-inches. While the MacBook Air (and now defunct white MacBook) max out at 13-inches, the MacBook Pro still comes in 15- and 17-inch screen sizes, with faster CPUs and graphics to accompany the greater screen real estate.

Apple last updated its MacBook Pro lineup in February, giving its entry-level 13-inch models dual-core Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 chips at speeds of 2.3GHz and 2.7Ghz. The higher-end 15- and 17-inch models gained quad-core Sandy Bridge Core i7 chips at speeds of up to 2.3Ghz.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple in talks to have 3G MacBook prototype returned to company

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 05:41
Category: MacBook Pro, News

Remember that 3G MacBook prototype that went on eBay recently?

Apple would like it back.

Per CNET, Apple is in talks to arrange for the return of a MacBook Pro prototype with built-in wireless 3G functionality from a North Carolina resident who attempted to sell it on eBay.

Earlier this month, owner Carl Frega had a friend post the prototype on eBay, where it quickly garnered bids as high as US$70,000. Within a day, Apple was successful in having the listing pulled, citing infringement on copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights.



The device resembles a 2007 15-inch Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, but with the curious addition of an extendable cellular antenna along the top right side of the display and a SIM card slot. Red circuit boards and the lack of an EMC Number serve as evidence that the machine is a pre-production prototype.

Frega was contacted by Apple Tuesday afternoon to arrange for a representative to pick up the device.

Frega has been purchasing used machines for spare parts, moving up from a hobby to a full-time repair job. He purchased the machine from an alleged former Apple engineer off of Craigslist. Earlier this year, he posted photos of the prototype to the forums of a tech site, but failed to attract interest.

“Few people were really interested, and the thread turned into a discussion about tethering rates and wireless carriers,” Frega said. “(It’s) part of why I figured the machine wasn’t anything particularly special (except to a tech geek like me) and not worth the trouble of selling as a collector’s piece.”

He replaced the hard drive and sold the machine on Craigslist. But, the new buyer took the laptop to the Genius Bar at a local Apple Store and was denied service.

“Opened machine to observe that nearly every internal part was third party; main logic board, optical drive, display, hard drive, top case, and others. Machine serial number (W8707003Y53) is also not recognized as a valid number,” the Genius Bar repair sheet read.

The new owner took Frega to small claims court, accusing him of selling a fake MacBook Pro. The case even drew the attention of a syndicate court TV show, but he declined the offer. The small claims judge eventually ruled that Frega must pay the buyer US$740, receiving the notebook back in return.

For its part, Apple has not indicated whether it will compensate Frega for the amount he originally paid for the device.

Rumors that Apple was working on a 3G laptop solution swirled several years ago. The antenna solution in the MacBook Pro prototype has been viewed as not matching Apple’s design principles, possibly explaining why the prototype was never released as a full-fledged product.

OWC announces 8GB RAM modules for 2011 model MacBook Pro, Mac mini units

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 07:43
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News

Ok, if there’s one computer part you sort of have to splurge on, it’s RAM.

And there’s no real argument against that.

Per MacNN, Mac outfitter Other World Computing has announced its RAM kits for the 2011 model MacBook Pro and Mac minis with its DDR3 1333MHz 8GB modules. The modules will also work with the latest model iMacs, doubling their RAM capacity to 32GB.

The company offers kits including 12GB (one 8GB module with one 4GB module) for US$500, a 16GB kit (two 8GB modules) that will max out the 2011 MacBook Pro and 2011 Mac mini, both of which only have two slots, for US$929.

Because the 27-inch iMac i5 and i7 models have four slots that take the same model of RAM, OWC offers a 24GB kit (two 8GB, two 4GB) for $1,000, and a 32GB kit (four 8GB modules) for those machines for US$1,848. The kits all use OWC’s own MaxRAM brand.

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