eBay begins Cyber Monday sale, offers $989 deal for mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro, other offers

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Date: Monday, November 26th, 2012, 09:38
Category: iPad, MacBook Pro, News, retail

Hey, a deal’s a deal.

Per AppleInsider, eBay, which is currently undergoing a rebranding itself to be in more direct competition with Amazon via a push towards more direct sales, is hosting a Cyber Monday sale offering 5% off iPads with Retina display and 18% off the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro (US$989), as well as significant discounts on other consumer electronics like cameras, game systems and more.

The US$989 price (US$210 savings) on the 2.5GHz 13″ MacBook Pro (MD101LL/A) is the lowest price that’s currently been published, and presents an exceptional value proposition for consumers in the market for a sub-US$1000 Apple notebook that still retains a CD/DVD optical drive.

Other notable deals include 5% off 16GB iPads with Retina display (US$474.99, 56% off, 42% off a new Canon T3i Digital SLR Camera with 2 Canon IS lenses 747.25 (US$551.75 savings), and 74% off a 32GB SanDisk SDHC TM Memory Card for US$17.99 (US$52 savings).

Meanwhile, retailers including Amazon, MacMall, B&H Photo, MacConnection and Best Buy have launched their own Cyber Monday sales with pricing on Macs and iPads similar to pricing seen on Black Friday. Additionally, MacMall continues to advocate inventory of the vast majority of Apple’s iPad mini product line (see chart), while Wal-Mart recently received all flavors of the AT&T iPad mini which its shipping out today.

For users looking for a new Mac with 3-years of AppleCare extended protection, B&H Photo’s Buy Together & Save (bundle prices, instructions) offer savings of up to US$450 with its Cyber Monday pricing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro owners complain of graphical glitches following Retina EFI Update v1.0 installation

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:58
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

If you have a Retina Display, the last thing you want is graphical weirdness after an update.

According to AppleInsider and threads on the Apple discussion boards, a number of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display owners are experiencing noticeable drops in graphics and processor performance after having updated their machines to the latest EFI (extensible firmware interface) version, such as drastically clipped frame rates when running graphics-intensive programs.

In this case, some 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro users noticed the performance drop immediately after installing Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update v1.0, which was released in September. While it is unclear if the firmware is to blame, many owners feel the update has been detrimental to how the system handles heavy workloads.

The issue is most pronounced when waking a computer from sleep, playing a graphics-intensive game or operating Windows in Boot Camp. Under heavy load, the CPU, GPU, or both are being underclocked as core temperatures reach or exceed supposedly conservative thresholds.

In one specific case, a user’s Retina MacBook Pro’s GPU begins to throttle down the machine’s discrete GPU to 700MHz from 850MHz, at a reported temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. The GPU is pulled back further if the CPU temperature hits 80 degrees Celsius.

From this information, it can be speculated that the computer’s firmware may not be correctly communicating with the thermal sensors, the threshold presets may be conservatively low, or there is an error with systems management.

Processor manufacturer Intel has noted that the Tjunction maximum, or highest operating temperature specification, of the processors used in the Retina MacBook Pro is 105 degrees Celsius, a much higher threshold than where forum members are seeing throttles. This could mean the problem lies in how the thermal management system handles the data from the digital thermal sensor (DTS), which is integral in calculating a processor’s Tjunction.

It should be noted that Intel chips, like most modern CPUs, have built-in thermal shutdown capabilities to prevent permanent damage to the silicon.

According to the forum members, the Retina MacBook Pros operated without fault prior to EFI version 1.0. Some have found that resetting the SMC or flashing the PRAM solves the problem temporarily, however the fix is far from permanent and owners report a reoccurrence after the computer wakes from sleep.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0 for mid-2012 notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 07:27
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It’s the firmware updates that really make a difference.

Late Friday, Apple released its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0, a firmware update for its June 2012 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 76.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.

The update requires a Mac notebook introduced in June of 2012, Mac OS X 10.7.4 or higher and can be downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

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

Apple receives patent for “ionic wind generator”, may look to replace conventional fans in upcoming devices

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Date: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, 08:10
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

This could turn into something interesting.

And, hey, if it works…there might be fewer dust bunnies in your computing devices.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday a patent for a cooling system that blows ionized air through an electronic device, controlling its path by creating electromagnetic fields that can be dynamically adjusted to direct cooling where it’s needed most.

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,305,728 for “Methods and apparatus for cooling electronic devices,” describes a system in which the direction of ionized air moving through a computing device is deflected by either an electric or magnetic field. Currently, mechanical fans pull in air and push it through predetermined physical paths within a computer, usually over passive heat exchangers, and out through an exhaust port.

Driving the air in Apple’s system is the ionic wind generator, basically a solid-state air mover based on “corona discharge–an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air.” The system is comprised of a corona electrode, a collector electrode and a high voltage power supply. When voltage is applied to electrodes, an electric field is created and causes particles in the surrounding air to take on a charge, or become ionized. An electric field propels the charged particles toward the collector electrode, which collide with other neutral particles as they move to create to generate “bulk air movement.”

As the ionized air moves through the device, it can be deflected or redirected by a “deflection field generator,” which can be a magnet or electromagnet. The magnitude of deflection is governed by the Lorentz force, or force on a charged particle from an electromagnetic field, which can be varied by the deflection field generator.

By employing standard issue heat sensors, the ion wind pump and deflection field generator system can direct cooling air to high temperature areas like the CPU or GPU.

The system also solves another problem associated with always-on mechanical fans, the so-called “no slip” condition at the “surface and the mean free stream velocity at the outer reaches from the surface” of a component. When such a condition arises, it creates a boundary layer of air over a component, making heat transfer more difficult. By modulating the rate of deflection, or time in which air flow passes over a component, the system creates eddy currents and turbulent flows to disturb the boundary layer.

Finally, the ionized air exits the device through a vent that is in the path of the ionic pump’s normal air flow.

Interestingly, the invention notes that the system is not limited to large desktops and laptops, but in mobile devices such as cell phones and media players as well.

Although such ion wind pump technologies are used in specialized industrial and laboratory settings, a solution has not yet been presented in a consumer device. Apple has shown that it is actively looking to solve issues related to cooling internal components, including noise reduction as seen with the asymmetrical fans in both MacBook Pro with Retina display models, however it is unknown if the company will implement the solid state generator any time soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s Forstall and Browett to leave company

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, retail

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Well, this might change the software on your iOS device for a few years to come.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced on Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino in 2013, while SVP of Retail John Browett is also scheduled to depart at an undetermined time.

It is unclear why Forstall and Browett are leaving Apple, though it appears the remaining executives, including Jony Ive, Bob Masfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, will shoulder the burden in lieu of replacements.

As head of Apple’s mobile software division, Forstall recently came under fire when iOS Maps was released in a form inaccuracies combined with missing features to prompt pundits and customers to widely pan the mapping service that replaced the Google Maps-powered app shipped in iOS since its inception.

In May, Forstall sold 95 percent of his shares in the company, which at the time was worth US$38.7 million. The executive was due to receive another 100,000 in restricted stock units that fully vest in 2014, and 150,000 restricted units that vest in 2013 and 2016, if he had stayed with Apple.

Forstall is expected to leave Apple sometime next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Not much was said about SVP of Retail John Browett’s exit, though the departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to replace Ron Johnson. According to the release, the entire Retail team will report directly to Cook until a suitable replacement is found.

Like Forstall, Browett’s actions were scrutinized as reports suggested the executive’s plans to raise Apple Store margins was taking its toll on employees.

Perhaps most visible was the alleged firing of recently-hired Apple Store staff in the UK, which was accompanied by drastic working hour cuts in the U.S. and Canada. Browett later claimed the staffing changes were a “mistake” and said they would be reversed, however further reports suggested that an emphasis on revenue was trumping customer experience.

It was revealed in April that Browett received 100,000 restricted stock units worth roughly US$61 million, 5,000 of which recently vested on Oct. 20. An additional 15,000 units were to vest on the executive’s one-year anniversary with Apple, with remaining shares set to vest in 20,000 unit packages every April.

Apple’s announcement regarding the changes:

Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history”

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available.

OWC Aura Pro fits into 13-inch MacBook Pro via included drive caddy

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 20:16
Category: hard drive, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

This could be nifty.

According to an entry on the OWC blog, the OWC Aura Pro solid state drive fits just fine in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s drive caddy (something new that wasn’t in the 15″ model), and so far everything seems to be running quite solidly.

Albeit there’s still a battery of tests to conduct, the drive seems to work well in the new notebook with no side effects.

Not a bad thing for an SSD unit that’s about US$200 cheaper than Apple’s drive, as mentioned by the mighty Jason over on the Apple Core

If you’ve tried the OWC Aura Pro in your brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit teardown of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro finds reconfigured battery layout, Samsung flash drive and soldered RAM

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 08:16
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The long-awaited, mucho-lusted-after 13-inch MacBook Pro has arrived.

And dissected by the cool cats at iFixit.

During its investigation, the company found that Apple redesigned the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s battery to “cleverly” hide the solid-state drive underneath the device’s trackpad assembly, iFixit discovered in its disassembly of the new notebook. There’s even an empty space next to the SSD, which the repair site found to be “very un-Apple.”

The solutions provider attempted to fit a 9.5 millimeter Crucial solid-state drive into the space under the trackpad, but it couldn’t be closed. They suggested that a thinner 7-millimeter or 5-millimeter hard drive could fit in the space, which could allow upgrades for even greater capacity than Apple’s flash memory can allow.

The flash storage in the 13-inch MacBook Pro taken apart by iFixit is a Samsung MZ-DPC2560/0A2 unit rated at 3.3 volts and 2.39 amps with 256 gigabytes of storage.

The disassembly discovered that the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has the same AirPort card as its 15-inch counterpart, while the heat sink has been slightly scaled down to fit into the smaller notebook. Apple has also once again used fans with asymmetrical blade spacing to reduce fan noise.

And like the 15-inch model, the RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, meaning no upgrades are possible. Apple does not offer any more than 8 gigabytes of RAM on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The chips found on the system’s logic board are:
- Intel Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor (Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz).

- Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM (8×4 Gb front and back for a total of 64 Gb or 8 GB).

- Intel BD82QS77 platform controller hub.

- Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller.

- Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller with integrated ARM core.

- Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM.

- SMSC USB2512B USB 2.0 Hub Controller.

- Cypress Semiconductor CY8C24794-24L programmable SoC.

- Maxim MAX15119 Apple-specific IMVP7 CPU/GPU power controller.

- Cirrus Audio 4206BCNZ audio controller.

- Texas Instruments TPS 51980.

Another strange inclusion found in the notebook is a flash memory chip on the trackpad board. The same feature is also found in the 15-inch model, but iFixit doesn’t know why a trackpad would require flash memory.

Where repairability was concerned, iFixit found that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a slight improvement over the 15-inch model in terms of recyclability and repairability, specifically with relation to the removal of the device’s batteries. Still, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display could only earn a repairability score of 2 out of 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.2 Update for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, late 2012 21.5″ iMac and Mac mini models

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Where new hardware is released, the software updates will follow.

Per AppleInsider, only one day following the announcement of new iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models, Apple on Wednesday released an OS X Mountain Lion update built specifically for those devices.

While the download is called OS X 10.8.2, just like the most recent update to Apple’s current operating system for all other Macs, Wednesday’s release is “for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012)Mac mini (Late 2012).”

A quick look at the release notes doesn’t yield much in the way of new information, possibly pointing to issues the new 2012 units are facing with some features in 10.8.2. Of note is the update’s compatibility with the 21.5-inch iMac, a model that has yet to be released, though the no mention was made of the 27-inch version.

The update, a 654 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Facebook:
- Single sign on for Facebook.
- Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos.
- Facebook friends’ contact information and profile pictures in Contacts.
- Facebook notifications in Notification Center.

Game Center:
- Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages.
- Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations.
- Facebook Like button for games.
- Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement.

Other new features:
- Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010).
- iMessages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac.
- From Safari and Mail on your Mac you can add passes to Passbook on your iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.
- New shared Reminders lists.
- FaceTime now receives calls sent to your phone number.
- New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them.
- Dictation now supports Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian.
- The Dictionary application now includes a French definition dictionary.
- Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts.

This update also includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, including the following fixes:
- An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.
- Unsent drafts are opened automatically when launching Mail.
- Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone
- URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center
- Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used
- SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari
- New preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages
- Graphics performance and reliability enhancements
- USB 3.0 reliability enhancements

As always, the update can be located and installed via the Mac App Store or OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple announces updated, slimmer, Ivy Bridge iMac

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 19:30
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

It may not have been the absolute centerpiece of the show, but it still looks nifty.

Per Macworld, Apple on Tuesday released a new, thinner iMac. The company reengineered the iMac’s internals and display, and Apple says the display system is 45 percent thinner and 8 pounds lighter.

The new iMacs are available in 21.5- and 27-inch models, with displays that support native resolutions of 1920-by-1080 pixels and 2560-by-1440 pixels, respectively. Previous models of the iMacs had a 2mm air gap between the glass and the display; that gap has been removed in the new iMac. Apple now laminates the display directly to the glass, and the company says the full lamination will improve optical quality.

Besides the new design, the other marquee feature of the new iMac is the Fusion Drive, which is a hybrid storage technology that combines flash storage with a hard drive. The Fusion Drive comes with 128GB of flash storage used mainly by the operating system to provide fast performance. The hard drive portion of the Fusion Drive is available in 1TB or 3TB capacities.

However, the Fusion Drive isn’t part of Apple’s standard configuration for the iMac—it is a build-to-order option. Apple has yet to release upgrade pricing for the iMac models with a Fusion Drive, though it’s worth noting that the 1TB Fusion Drive upgrade for the 2.3GHz Core i7 Mac mini is US$250.

As seen with the Retina MacBook Pro, Apple is relying on Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 for connectivity. The iMac has two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports, as well as a gigabit ethernet port. FireWire is no longer offered on the iMac, and users of FireWire devices will need an adapter.

The iMac also features a built-in FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, built-in Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The optical drive is no longer included, and the SDXC card slot that was located next to the optical drive can now be found on the back of the iMac, between the headphone jack and the USB 3.0 ports.

The 21.5-inch iMacs have only two RAM slots and support a maximum of 16GB of memory. The 27-inch iMacs have four RAM slots and support a maximum of 32GB of memory.

The new iMac is available in the following four configurations:
US$1299: 21.5-inch model with a 2.7GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 5400-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GT 640M graphics.

US$1499: 21.5-inch model with a 2.9GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 5400-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GT 650M graphics.

US$1799: 27-inch model with a 2.9GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics.

US$1999: 27-inch model with a 3.2GHz quad-core Core i5, 8GB of memory, a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, and 512MB nVidia GeForce GTX 675M graphics.

The 21.5-inch models will be available in November, while the 27-inch models will be available in December.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces updated, Ivy Bridge Mac mini

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:23
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

The Mac mini, it’s now equipped with Ivy Bridge goodness.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, besides a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple also updated its Mac mini line of desktops. The affordable Mac computer keeps the same boxy form factor, but soups up internals with a Core i5 or Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor (dual-core or quad-core configuration), integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 16 GB RAM and up to 1 TB hard drive or 256 GB SSD. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt port, four USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

The base model starts at US$600 with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of memory. It is available starting today. A server edition will be available for US$999.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.