Gizmodo editor’s home raided by police, equipment seized

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 27th, 2010, 04:22
Category: iPhone, News

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It might be fair to say that Apple isn’t happy with Gizmodo about that iPhone story.

Per AppleInsider, California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s home last week and seized four computers and two servers in its felony investigation of an obtained prototype iPhone.

Gizmodo revealed the information, along with a copy of the warrant issued by a judge of the superior court in San Mateo County, Calif. In response, the website’s post argued that it believes the warrant was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.

The warrant states that there was probable cause that Chen’s computers were “used as the means of committing a felony.” The REACT authorities entered Chen’s home without him present, according to Gizmodo.

A full inventory of the seized material includes a MacBook, MacBook Pro, 32GB iPad, 16GB iPhone, an AirPort Extreme, IBM ThinkPad, a Dell desktop, external hard drives, and many more. The items were removed from numerous rooms in his home.

An account of the events by Chen was also filed. The Gizmodo editor said he and his wife came back home from dinner around 9:45 p.m. when they noticed their garage door was half-open. When he tried to open the door, officers searched him and informed him that his property was under their control.

Chen’s front door was reportedly broken open so the authorities could enter, and those on the scene informed him that he could be reimbursed for the damage. Chen was provided with a copy of the warrant, and declined to comment to the authorities. He was not arrested.

Last week it was revealed that police are investigating the Gizmodo purchase of a prototype iPhone from Apple. The publication’s parent company, Gawker Media, has openly admitted it paid US$5,000 to obtain the device from a man who claimed he found it at a California bar.

The prototype was allegedly left at the Redwood City establishment by an Apple engineer. The employee frantically searched for the device, calling the bar multiple times to see if it had been returned, but the owner of the bar said no one ever contacted him to say they had found an iPhone. Gizmodo claimed that the person who found the phone attempted to call Apple and did not receive a response.

Gizmodo returned the iPhone to Apple after the company requested it be given back, but not before the publication wrote numerous stories about the device and revealed the name of the engineer who allegedly lost the device. The website also disassembled the hardware to confirm it was manufactured by Apple.

iFixit tears into 15″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 16th, 2010, 03:04
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Once again, the cool cats at iFixit have torn into an Apple device, this time shredding the new 15″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebook. Per Engadget, the teardown didn’t reveal anything too stunning and aside from the obvious processor upgrade, not much has changed since 2009 model except the odd antenna mounted on the optical drive frame and tri-wing screws in place of the Torx 5, but it appears that the AirPort/Bluetooth assembly now resembles that of the 13″ unibody MacBook.

Among the more interesting finds was the Intel BD82HM55 S LGZS Platform Controller Hub, which seems to function as an intermediary chip between the Intel and NVIDIA graphics cards.

Beyond this, it seems to be business as usual with the new notebook.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a new mid-2010 MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know.

Micro Center stock post adds new strength to updated MacBook, MacBook Pro rumors

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 12th, 2010, 04:19
Category: News

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The new Apple notebook rumors continue as a Micro Center employee recently posted new Apple model numbers that seem to indicate at MacBook Pro updates. Per Electronista, while just listed as “Mac systems” with Good, Better and Best trim levels, they have completely new model numbers and roughly correlate to the three 15″ and single 17″ MacBook Pros that currently exist. They also hint at price changes with the base MacBook Pro price rising US$100 to US$1,799, the top-end 15-inch model would drop to US$2,199 and the 17″ would fall US$200 to US$2,299.

A mid-range MacBook Pro would stay in place at US$1,999.

The MacBook Pro line is expected to receive Intel’s Core i5 and i7 processors that may sport similar stock clock speeds but should be substantially faster than the outgoing Core 2 Duo models. Also likely on top of these is the use of NVIDIA Optimus graphics switching to save energy; the higher-priced entry model may reflect this as Apple would have to use a discrete graphics chip instead of the integrated GeForce 9400M used today.

A MacBook Pro update could come as soon as Tuesday and may also include a refresh of the white plastic MacBook and MacBook Air.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve heard anything on your end, please let us know.

Rumor: Upcoming MacBook, MacBook Pro notebooks to feature updated Intel processors, other improvements

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 6th, 2010, 03:45
Category: News

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You love your MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks but in the recent months of coverage surrounding the iPad (which also makes thousands of delicious julienne-style fries), you’ve wondered if it was due for anything new?

Per Taiwanese blog Apple Daily, sources close to the story say the only reason the MacBook lines haven’t already been updated is because of chip shortages from Intel. The same report claims that all MacBooks will be available with not only the newest Intel processors, but also up to 640 GB hard drives and 8-hour battery performance throughout the line.

The MacBook Pro line’s last significant update was last June — and I know of several people who have been holding off on a new purchase until the line is updated. With Apple the lone remaining major manufacturer yet to integrate Intel’s newest i5 and i7 processors into their portables.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you’d like to see in Apple’s next generation of notebook computers.

Review: iPad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 5th, 2010, 04:19
Category: News, Review

By Michael DeWalt

Arrival and Unpacking:
At about 10 AM Saturday morning, Santa, otherwise known as the UPS guy, rang the doorbell. The anticipation was intense, but it’s here — the iPad has landed. To be more specific, an iPad Wi-Fi 64GB is now in hand. It took willpower not to just rip into the box, but I held back and took a few photos of the unveiling.

The picture above is the package as it was delivered. After the wait and all the hype it seemed…well…a little less grand than I’d envisioned.

Inside, the packaging was simple and efficient with recyclable cardboard packaging. All’s well so far.

Inside the box there’s not much – the iPad, a one page document that basically just points out what the buttons do, and underneath that rests the 10W power adapter and sync cable. That’s it. If you’re looking for ear buds, stop, they’re not included.

Before turning it on I decided to plug it in, just for good measure. As it turns out that was a waste of time, it was fully charged out of the box. For a size reference, it’s parked next to a MacBook Air.

First Impressions:
Mobility and weight are important as I spend about 30% of my time on the road, or more accurately, on airplanes. So, I was pleasantly surprised at how light it felt when I picked it up for the first time. It’s subjective I know, but to me it felt “light”. At a pound and a half it’s about half the weight of the MacBook Air, but a little more than double the weight of my first generation Kindle.

Durability is high on my list of desirable attributes, but, like all new expensive electronic gadgets, I’ll treat it like a newborn baby for the first week or two. I babied the Kindle for a while … but now it gets tossed around and travels without a cover. The iPad feels more substantial than the Kindle, and not just because it’s bigger. Apple knows how to build a device that not only looks great, but oozes quality.

The First Sync:
Before turning it on I plugged it into a Mac Pro and fired up iTunes. Make sure you’re using iTunes 9.1, you’ll need it to sync. Below are several screen shots that show registration and syncing. If you’ve ever set up an iPod or iPhone the process will be very familiar.




Using the iPad:
iPad navigation is almost identically to the iPod Touch and iPhone, and that’s not surprising since it uses the iPhone OS. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate.

Keyboard and Controls:
The touch screen keyboard is available in both portrait and landscape modes. If you have more than an ID and password to type you’ll appreciate the added size of the keyboard in landscape mode. Most people will find that it works just fine for a device like this. I found it to be accurate and relatively speedy, even with my chunky fingers. The keyboard makes a satisfying “click” through the speaker with each key press, though you can turn the click off if you want. Typing an email, note, or web address was absolutely no problem. However, if you’re a budding writer working on your novel, you probably don’t want to do it on an iPad unless you spring for the external keyboard.

In terms of buttons and switches, there aren’t many. It’s a super-slick package with the “Home” button near the dock port, an on/off button on the top, a button to lock out rotation, and a volume toggle. That’s it.

Battery Life:
After two days of significant use I think it’s safe to say that, in normal use the battery shouldn’t be a concern. The design theory seems to have been “use it all day on a full charge, plug it in before you go to bed, then do it all over again the next day.” I had it on for about six hours on Saturday and the indicator still said over 50%. Yes, I know that’s not as great as a Kindle, buy hey, so what. If I can go full out all day that’s fine, I don’t mind charging it overnight.

Web Browsing and Email:
If you’ve used Safari on a Mac, PC, or iPhone you’ll be right at home. You can open multiple windows and jump between them, just like the iPhone. During the initial set up and registration process I turned on the MobileMe sync and my email, contacts, calendar, and bookmarks all synced flawlessly. One piece of advice on bookmarks … using the bookmark bar really speeds browsing. The screen is big enough to give up a little real estate for it. In general, the web browsing experience is much more like using a laptop than an iPhone. However, as widely reported, Adobe Flash is a no-go. That makes many sites less rich and some downright unusable.

Mail was a pleasant surprise and for whatever reason, using my finger in place of the mouse seemed more “right” than with any other app, except maybe “Photos”. Mail layout is simple and intuitive. One problem though is printing … it doesn’t. Sure, you can pick up a third party app and get the job done, but there’s no built-in ability to print anything

In summary, Safari and Mail are easy and intuitive … except no Flash in Safari, less than perfect attachment options in Mail, and no printing ability.

Media – Video and Music:
Media is where the iPad really shines. Movies look stunning – a rich crisp screen and plenty of processor power for smooth playback. A few of my recent Blu-ray movie purchases have included digital copies (Zombieland and Sherlock Holmes), and they not only look great, they have chapters with thumbnails … like movies downloaded from the iTunes Movie Store. Music Videos and TV shows look great as well. Movie and TV downloads from the iTunes store worked fine and transferred to my Mac Pro when I synced the iPad.

Since the iPad is essentially a mobile device you’ll often be around other people when you use it – on the train, airplanes, in the library, waiting rooms, airports, etc. So, you’ll probably use ear buds or headphones to listen. That said, the built-in speaker develops enough volume that it’s a usable option. If I’m in a hotel room and want to watch a TV show or movie I’d be happy to prop it up and jack up the speaker volume. It’s not what you’d call hi-fi quality, but it’s definitely usable.

Using the iPod app was easy. In particular, I like the “Songs, Artists, Albums, Genres, Composers” bar at the bottom of the screen which makes it easy to browse your music collection. One minor complaint though, when you browse by genre you get a list of all the songs in that genre. It would have been better to group them by artist or album within genre.

Once you get a song playing you get album artwork filling the screen, and it looks great. While you’re playing music can hit the home button, fire up a different app, and music will continue to play while you’re checking email or playing a killer game of solitaire.

Photo Browsing:
The Photo app syncs with either your iPhoto library or a folder of pictures. If you sync with iPhoto you can do it all or just the albums, events or faces you want. I synced about 2,000 photos in two dozen albums and it all worked fine.

Viewing your pictures couldn’t be easier. When you open the Photo app it shows your albums as stacks of photos. Tap one and thumbnails appear. Tap a thumbnail and the picture opens. You can flick through the pictures like on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

You can zoom and shrink with the pinch and expand gesture, you can run a slideshow, email pictures, and copy pictures. There aren’t any editing tools built in, but hey, this is a viewer and a darned good one.

iBooks and the Bookstore … and the Kindle App:
I’m a big fan of the Kindle. I’ve downloaded and read about 50 books on my first generation Kindle. Sure it has its quirks, but it’s been a great reader. I’m giving to my daughter.

The Kindle app for the iPad is a better experience than reading Kindle books on the Kindle itself. The books in your Kindle library show up with colorful covers, it’s fast, and the screen is crisp and easy to read. With the Kindle app I was able to log into my account, select the books I wanted moved to the iPad, and I ordered a new book (from the Amazon Website). All in all it was easy to get all of my current Kindle content on the iPad.

The iBooks app is excellent. You can read one page at a time in portrait mode or two pages at a time in landscape. You can go to the table of contents and jump to a chapter, you can change the font and font size. With illustrations and photos in color and the bigger screen this will definitely be a platform for textbooks. What’s currently missing though, is an ability to annotate and highlight.

The bookstore has over 50,000 titles at introduction, but is way behind Amazon. I’m sure Apple’s store will increase, and that’ll be great, but the iPad isn’t closed. If I can’t find what I want I can always shop the Kindle store and use the Kindle app.

A lot’s been written about the E ink screen versus the iPad’s LED-backlit glossy screen. Yes, if you want to read in the bright sunshine the LED screen will be a problem. That said, I’ve never found myself reading that way. For me the problem has been just the opposite. I frequently read in low light situations… in bed and on a dim evening flight. I think the bright screen will be just fine. I’ve done three separate one-hour book-reading sessions so far and not experienced any noticeable eye strain. It is heavier though, and I find myself changing hands often.

Bottom line… it’s a good book reader and my daughter will be the proud owner of a used Kindle.

Using the iPad for business – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote:
So far so good … the iPad is great for movies, music, and books, and it’s a decent platform for browsing the web and using email. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short as a business tool.

What I wanted to see was relatively modest:
1. Ability to read and write Microsoft Office formats,
2. Reasonable formatting compatibility,
3. Ease of use … the ability to modify existing documents and create relatively basic documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go, and
4. Conveniently get files on and off the iPad to share.

So, how does it perform? It’s easy to create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations – much easier and more usable than I expected. There are several built in templates that make it easy to get quick professional looking work done.

It’ll read Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats, and in my tests it did a decent (but not perfect) job of formatting. It’ll also save your word processing documents in Microsoft Word format. What it absolutely does not do is save in Excel and PowerPoint formats. That’s a problem for me. When I’m on the road I mostly read and review material that’s emailed to me, but once in a while I need to edit or create a spreadsheet or presentation and send it back to the office. Yes, you can email it as a PDF or iWork format … but I work in a Windows world and Microsoft Office compatibility is a must. This is a serious flaw in Numbers and Keynote and it’ll need to be addressed either by Apple or an easy to use third party app.

Another problem is the ability to get work to and from your iPad. There are two options, email or syncing with iTunes on your computer. That’s a real pain. A USB port would have been good. 95% of the time I’ll be able to travel with the iPad and leave my laptop and Kindle at home… but better integration with MS Office and a USB port would have really sealed the deal.

The Bottom Line:
The iPad is without a doubt a ground breaking device, is crazy good at what it does best, but has its flaws, particularly as a business tool.

Pros – Instant on (no time consuming boot up), large vibrant screen for such a portable device, great battery life, good web and email experience, great video & music player, usable built in speaker, very good book reader (including my already purchased Kindle library), great build quality, and large and growing selection of apps.

Cons – Only partially file compatibility with Microsoft Office, limited ability to get files on and off, limited ability to add multiple attachments to email, and no built in ability to print. Also, the glossy screen looks fantastic, but is highly prone to smudgy fingerprints.

Debatable – The on screen keyboard is good, but it’s still not like a real keyboard. Love for the keyboard will likely be inversely proportional to the amount of typing being done.

Summary:
After a few days of heavy use and review am I happy I bought an iPad? Absolutely. For at least the next three months I’ll be an early adopting geek rock star. It’ll be the focus of attention at meetings when I pop it out to take notes, people will stop and stare when I’m reading an ibook on the train, and all the people watching movies on their Nano at 35,000 feet will bow down in awe. So, yes, I’m very happy with it. However, it wants to be connected at all times. I’m already feeling a need for 3G.

Rumor: Intel may be short on next-gen MacBook, MacBook Pro processors

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 03:05
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, Processors, Rumor

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Intel may be struggling to meet demand for its new family of Core mobile processors that are expected in the next generation of Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

Per DigiTimes, sources close to the story have cited that Intel’s latest Core i7/i5/i3 series notebook chips are currently facing tight supply thanks to a hefty order from Acer, which “optimistic about the upcoming demand” for its related portables.

The brief report, which doesn’t specifically name Apple, claims that Intel is giving priority to major clients, which should include the Mac maker, leaving second-tier and smaller notebook makers in the waiting line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Web Ad Points to Possible Higher Prices for Upcoming Macbook Air, Pro and Mac Pro

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 17th, 2010, 04:18
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

No one’s quite sure if this was intentional but it is interesting.

Per PC Authority, a set of Apple ads on the PC Authority web site are now listing the most affordable versions of the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Pro at A$1,599, A$1,999 and A$3,599, respectively. These prices are far higher than the current prices and could hint at an early peek at the pricing of the newly updated models of each of those series.

In the ad, the MacBook Air has jumped by A$400 so that what used to be its costliest base price is now its lowest, while the MBP has suffered a A$300 bump in cost of entry. Then again, the machines are expected to receive updates to the new Intel Core i7 chips, so there may be an added cost to consider.

So, focus on the upgrades, even if you do have to consider smashing your piggy bank to get them…

Suburban Philadelphia School District Denies Accusation of Spying on Students with MacBook Cameras

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:18
Category: Legal, MacBook, News

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A suburban Philadelphia school district has denied it spied on students by remotely activating the cameras on their school-issued MacBook notebooks.

Per Macworld UK, in a statement released late on Thursday, Christopher McGinley, the superintendent of Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa., admitted that the MacBooks’ cameras could be turned on without the user’s knowledge, but said that the functionality was part of a security feature.

“Laptops are a frequent target for theft in schools and off-school property,” said McGinley. “The security feature was installed to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen so that the laptop could be returned to the student.” When switched on, the feature was limited to taking snapshots of whomever was using the notebook and capturing the computer’s current screen.

Laptop cameras have only been activated for that purpose, McGinley continued. “The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever,” he said.

This Tuesday, a high school student and his parents sued the district, claiming that the student’s MacBook had been used to spy on him in his home. According to the lawsuit, Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., said they first found out about the alleged spying last November after their son Blake was accused by a Harriton High School official of “improper behavior in his home” and shown a photograph taken by his laptop.

Doug Young, a spokesman for the school district, declined to answer questions as to whether Blake Robbins’ computer camera had been activated, and if so, under what circumstances. “I can’t speak to the lawsuit,” Young said.

The lawsuit speaks for itself, said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is utterly shocking, and a blatant violation of [the students'] constitutional rights,” Bankston said Thursday, citing the Fourth Amendment after reviewing the Robbins’ complaint. “The school district would have no more right to [use the laptop's webcam] than to install secret listening devices in the textbooks that they issued students.”

Bankston suggested that students should tape over the lens of their laptops’ cameras when not in use.

McGinley confirmed that the district had disabled the camera activation feature on Thursday, and would not switch it back on without the written consent of students and families. The Robbins’ lawsuit alleged that the district had not told students or their families of the activation feature when it handed out the MacBooks. All 2,300 students at the district’s two high schools have been given notebooks.

The district intends to contest the lawsuit, said Young.

Mark Haltzman of the law firm Lamm Rubenstone, and the Robbins’ attorney, did not return a call for comment on Thursday.

The Robbins family has asked for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and requested that the case be granted class-action status so other students in the district can join the suit.

Apple Offers Extended Warranty Program for MacBook Hard Drives

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010, 04:15
Category: hard drive, MacBook, News

If the hard drive on your older MacBook Pro was starting to go south, Apple may have something for you.

Per CNET, Apple is now offering the MacBook Repair Extension Program for hard-drive issues on machines purchased roughly between May 2006 and December 2007. Customers experiencing hard-drive issues should take their machines to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Reseller to have it diagnosed.

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The primary sign of hard drive troubles on your MacBook is the flashing question mark when starting up. Should your machine fall into the eligible model range, you will be given a replacement drive, free of charge.

Apple has published a knowledge base article relating to the program and listed the following models as affected units:

- 13-inch black and white MacBook models with the following processor speeds and hard-drive capacities:
- Processor speed – 1.83GHz, 2GHz, or 2.16GHz
- Hard drive capacity – 60GB, 80GB, 100GB, 120GB, or 160GB

If you’ve already paid for an out-of-warranty repair, Apple also offered the following:

“Some customers may have paid for out-of-warranty repairs that qualify under this program. Apple will contact affected customers (where contact information is available) with details on the reimbursement process. If you believe that you paid for a repair covered by this program and you have not been contacted, you may contact Apple Technical Support.

This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the MacBook but covers affected MacBook models for 3 years from their original date of purchase or until August 15th, 2010, whichever provides longer coverage. Apple will continue to evaluate the repair data and will provide further repair extensions if needed.”

As always, hurl in your two cents and let’s see how Apple handles this.

MWSF: Worth Ave Group Now Offering iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple Notebook Insurance

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 15th, 2010, 05:00
Category: iPhone, Macworld Expo, News

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If you meandered over to the Worth Ave. Group booth at Macworld Expo, you might have noticed their staff hammering on expensive gadgets. Per Macworld, the Worth Ave. Group is now offering notebook and iPhone insurance and invited Macworld Expo attendees to take a hammer to some of the MacBooks, iPhones and iPod touches they had on hand.

The Worth Ave. Group claims to be the only iPhone insurance company around and has stated that they’ll cover stuff that won’t be handled by your typical warranty from Apple. Whether your iPhone has been dropped, stolen, or damaged by liquid, you are covered. The annual premiums are pretty reasonable too, starting at US$55 for 3G/8GB or earlier models and going up to US$79 for 3GS/32GB models. If your iPhone encounters a fall into a toilet or falls out of your pocket at some juncture, they’ll buy you a new one.

The insurance plan seems fairly comprehensive and the company has stated that they’ll also cover cameras, game systems, and cell phones.