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Apple May Overhaul Entry-Level Polycarbonate MacBook Models

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 26th, 2009, 03:43
Category: MacBook, Rumor


Until recently rumored to be headed for the scrap pile, Apple’s entry-level polycarbonate MacBook notebooks may be on the verge of a refresh according to AppleInsider.

Per sources close to the story, Apple is said to be running the 13″ notebooks through an industrial design overhaul that will see them reemerge in the coming months with a slimmer, lighter enclosure and restructured internal architecture to boot.

It’ll be the first time in more than three years that the plastic Mac notebooks will receive a visual tune-up. Introduced in May of 2006, the white and black systems replaced the PowerPC-based iBook and 12-inch PowerBook as part of Apple’s transition to Intel processors and quickly became the best selling Mac of all time, according to statistics from NPD Group.

The MacBook notebooks were also among the first Macs to adopt Apple’s MagSafe power connector while pioneering several other features that would become staples of future Mac notebook designs, such as shrunken soft-touch keyboards, glossy displays, and a non-mechanical magnetic latches (see: Magnet madness to hit Intel iBook line – Feb 2006).

Earlier this spring, Apple restructured its notebook offerings by repositioning its aluminum unibody MacBooks as premium offerings under the MacBook Pro moniker, adding long-requested features such as FireWire and higher-quality displays. This left the company with just a single MacBook offering, a white polycarbonate model that retails for US$999 but sticks out like a sore thumb when positioned alongside its peers.

Interestingly, sales of the sub-US$1000 system have remained surprisingly brisk amid the economic crunch, leaving management little choice but to allocate R&D expenses in its favor. As of press time, Apple’s online store indicates that the white MacBook is outselling all other Macs with the exception of the iMac, while similar rankings from high-volume resellers like MacMall also consistently place it in the top 10 best selling Apple-related products overall, ahead of all desktop-based Macs.

While it’s unclear how many models or configurations Apple will introduce as part the redesign, Ben Reitzes — an analyst with Barclays Capital who’s been following the Mac maker for years — sees the company offering several, at various price points.

“We […] believe the MacBook line needs to be revamped (there is only one MacBook available now, an old white model) and that we could see a lower priced line soon, positioned below the new MacBook Pro models,” he said.

Though details are few and far between, Apple is expected to achieve these markdowns through largely existing tactics, such as using lower-end components and previous-generation Core 2 Duo chips and architectures from Intel. Battery life should receive a boost from cutting-edge technology that recently found its way into the company’s other notebook offerings, while high-end legacy features like FireWire connectivity are likely to be sacrificed in the tradeoff.

Apple’s new line of low-end MacBooks could be viewed as the last piece to the puzzle in Apple’s top-to-bottom line of product offerings, transitioning the company from a premium PC and phone manufacturer to one that offers truly competitive prices on products in both categories.

Apple Notebook Guide for the College-Bound Published

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 18th, 2009, 04:32
Category: Any Laptop Computer, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro


With August wrapping up and new students getting ready to head off to college, the Mac Observer’s John Martellaro has written an outstanding guide as to how to safely bring your MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro to campus, how to keep it safe and the various levels of security, backup and recovery to keep it safe.

Because, and take my word for it, if something happens to your laptop and you lose your data or the laptop itself, then nothing short of fifteen simultaneous miracles (including winning three separate multimillion dollar lotteries) is going to brighten your day.

The guide also features links as to bags, accessories and external hard drives worth considering to keep your notebook in good shape with its data safely backed up in an alternate location.

Take a gander and if you have any suggestions of your own, please let us know.

Additional Details Surface Over Possible Apple Tablet

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 14th, 2009, 05:02
Category: Rumor


New reports surrounding a possible upcoming Apple tablet currently suggest that two versions (the first for educational use and the second with a webcam) could be made available. Both models would utilize an OLED screen and according to Gizmodo, include what an anonymous source described as a 10″ screen and look like a “giant iPhone, with a big black back.” The tipster claimed to have handled a mock-up of the device, stating it has a home button like an iPhone, and will be positioned between an iPod/iPhone and a MacBook.

The report did not elaborate on the supposed separate Web cam and education editions of the device, but said it would retail between US$700 and US$900. The device has allegedly been under development between four and six years, though the first prototype was only created in late 2008.

“To make up for the cost and make the device more than just a big iPod there was, this person claimed, there was talk of making the device act as a secondary screen/touchpad for iMacs and MacBooks,” wrote Brian Lam for the Gizmodo article, “much like a few of the USB screens that have come out in recent months from Chinese companies.”

The source also said that there is a question of what operating system the device will run (Lam calls that detail a “huge secret”), but that it’s possible the device could be made for sale this holiday season.

Additional anonymous sources have pointed towards a 10″ screen as well as a customer ARM chip to be developed by the PA Semi division. Other rumors have ascertained that the device will not be available until early 2010. Citing “very reliable sources,” Jim Dalrymple, of The Loop, corroborates that date.

Finally, a new report in Silicon Scoop alleges that Apple will launch in a tablet in limited release at US$899 by the end of 2009. The “SmartBook” device, as author Trip Chowdhry calls it, is reported to have an 8″ to 10″ OLED screen and feature an ARM Cortex-A9 chipset.

Chowdhry reports that Apple wants to launch the device this year, but it will not be available widespread until early 2010. Allegedly Apple’s new device is being compared performance-wise to the Archos 9 PC Tablet, a Windows 7-based netbook.

If you have any thoughts about an Apple tablet or have heard anything from your end, please let us know.

NewerTech Releases Intelligent Battery Charging Station for Apple Unibody Notebook Batteries

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 7th, 2009, 06:26
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Pro, News


Yesterday, accessory provider NewerTech announced the release of its Intelligent Battery Charging Station, a peripheral designed to charge and condition the batteries used by Apple’s 13″ and 15″ unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

The unit features two bays (one that charges while the other charges and conditions) and NewerTech claims that by conditioning the battery, you can get longer runtimes and better lifetimes from your laptop batteries. The charger retails for US$150 before shipping and handling.

Atlona to Ship Mini DisplayPort Converter for Older MacBooks

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 3rd, 2009, 03:51
Category: Hardware, News


Third party provider Atlona announced the released of the AT-DP200, a converter box that will let owners of older MacBooks with DVI or mini-DVI ports connect to the new Apple 24″ display, which uses a Mini DisplayPort. The device will ship in early September per the announcement.

Per the Apple Core, the unit boasts the following features:

* Compatible with All Mac and PC computers with DVI output.
* Supports High Resolutions up to 1,920×1,200.
* Full EDID management allows storing EDID information on the converter to make sure there is always a connection in between the computer and display.
* Re-Clocking technology will insure that signal stays the same quality as it was before entering the converter.
* Video Pass-Though, no scaling.

The AT-DP200 is expected to retail for a US$179 price tag.

Early Predictions Arrive for Apple Q3 Earnings

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 20th, 2009, 04:30
Category: News


Apple’s Q3 numbers come out tomorrow and per CNET, while results have been both eventful and mixed, analysts are expecting more positive than negative numbers when it’s said and done.

During the quarter, which ended June 30, the company released the third-generation iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, which can be regarded as a success, though its Mac and iPod divisions may not see identical results.

Throughout the quarter, Apple did pay a nod to consumers’ tight budgets, lowering prices on its Mac notebook lineup although keeping other prices about the same.

Analysts are expecting revenues for the quarter between US$7.88 billion and US$8.44 billion, and earnings per share between US$1.02 and US$1.31. Apple itself, which always gives guidance on the low side, is anticipating revenue between US7.7 billion and US$7.9 billion and earnings per share between 95 cents and a dollar.

Over the quarter, Apple’s stock jumped 21.4%, rising to US$147.52, since its last earnings report in late April. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who stood in for CEO Steve Jobs, has received high marks for keeping the company running smoothly in its leader’s absence. Jobs has been back at work, at least part-time, since the end of June.

Apple announced that the company had sold 1 million iPhones worldwide in the first weekend the 3GS was on the market, and AT&T said the first day the phone was available marked the best sales day in the carrier’s history. Analytical firm Piper Jaffray jumped in on this, specifically stating that it anticipates total iPhones sold for the quarter will be 5 million.

Mac revenue will show if price cuts are helping. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says Apple sold 2.2 million Macs during the quarter, and says it is getting a boost from the price cuts it applied when it upgraded its entire aluminum MacBook line to MacBook Pros. Per recent counts from IDC, which only tracks Apple’s sales in the U.S., showed that Mac shipments dipped more than 12% during this quarter while the entire PC industry was down 3.1% worldwide.

For those wanting a cool new item, the iPods’ annual tuneup is expected in September, when it has taken place the past few years. Where the iPod business has also been slowing down a bit, Piper Jaffray predicts sales to be down 7% from a year ago, though Apple has been increasingly focused on its iPod Touch, which has access to the popular App Store and is expected to get a reboot in September similar to the iPhone 3GS.

Apple also continues to put away cash during the quarter. As Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech pointed out, Apple added US$800 million in cash during the last quarter, bringing its total to US$28.9 billion. Only Cisco’s US$29 billion in cash is better among technology companies.

Stay tuned for full Q3 coverage tomorrow and let us know what’s on your mind via the comments!

Apple Apparently Reconsidering Matte Displays on iMacs, Notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 16th, 2009, 05:56
Category: iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro


When Apple began to slowly convert its notebook and iMacs displays to highly-reflective glass surfaces shortly after the release of the original iPhone in 2007, opinions were mixed as to the change. In short, Jason pretty much Hulked Out given the annoyance. And there may have been smashing.

The screen, which has been considered almost as reflective as a mirror, has drawn complaints from users using the notebooks in outdoor environments.

According to AppleInsider and the Apple Core, in January 2009, Apple appeared to concede the point that glossy screens aren’t for everyone when they announced the new 17″ MacBook Pro with a matte screen option. The company included a US$50 upcharge for anti-glare but offered users a choice. Apple then went on to release the rest of the unibody MacBook Pro line with glossy-only displays.

Per the AppleInsider article, Apple may have realized the error of its glossy ways, as the company is “mulling the possibility of extending anti-glare display options to more of its Macs” and that “the 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros would be the most likely candidates.”

Other World Computing Releases Free Online Library of DIY Videos for Apple Notebook Owners Looking to Upgrade Components

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 15th, 2009, 05:51
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, PowerBook G4, PowerBook G4 Aluminum, PowerBook G4 Titanium


Accessory manufacturer Other World Computing announced the completion of its series of Do It Yourself videos for Apple’s entire MacBook and MacBook Pro product line on Tuesday. The videos cover all of the DIY options for these laptops, including memory, hard drive and/or optical drive components for all of Apple’s laptop line from the Titanium PowerBook G4 to the latest Unibody line as well as include warnings for the issues customers should be considering and other instructions needed to do the upgrade.

The installation videos are being offered for free, and OWC has made them available in low, medium, and high resolutions.

Rumor: Apple, NVIDIA Could Part Ways After Contract Spat

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Date: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009, 05:24
Category: News, Rumor


Despite portraying a friendly image for the past several months, Apple and NVIDIA are now rumored to be involved in a spat that could see some GeForce chipsets excluded from future Mac models.

According to semiaccurate.com, a report from this past weekend asserts that negotiations between Apple and NVIDIA are now extremely bitter after the latter’s proposed terms were viewed as “arrogance and bluster” and all but rejected as-is.

Sources close to the discussions have stated that Apple may not agree to another such deal for 3-4 years as a result of the heated words. It wouldn’t result in an immediate exit, as the recentness of implementing NVIDIA chipsets into nearly all Macs means some models will keep their existing designs for a long time, but could already result in some comparatively near-term updates shedding the NVIDIA platform.

These would start with iMacs and MacBooks based on Intel’s Nehalem processor architecture, the tipsters say, but would get progressively wider as time goes on.

While the exact terms of the argument haven’t been publicized, it’s believed that conflicting opinions over MacBook Pro graphics failures are what would have actually triggered the resistance. As all GeForce 8600M video chipsets are known to have a heat-related defect that gradually renders them inoperable over time, Apple has not only had to replace those June 2007 and newer portables that use the part but to extend its warranty for the issue to three years regardless of whether or not the owner has AppleCare — an expensive proposition given the ubiquity of the machines on the market until they were replaced in October 2008 with the unibody models.

Apple may have an issue not just with the cost, at least some of which may be footed by NVIDIA through money set aside to cover all PC makers, but with answers it’s received on the subject. The company openly challenged NVIDIA and revealed that the graphics chip designer was falsely representing the scope of the problem, insisting that MacBook Pros wouldn’t be affected at all when two entire generations of the 15″ and 17″ models were guaranteed to eventually suffer video corruption or shutdowns. Apple may also not believe NVIDIA when it claims that unibody MacBook Pros won’t see the same problem due to partial similarities in the contact material used to join the GeForce 9600M GT chip die to its package.

Electronista has noted that Intel and NVIDIA have been embroiled in a license battle over NVIDIA’s right to make logic board chipsets for any processor that has its own internal memory controller, including any desktop or notebook processor built on Nehalem. A win for Intel in its lawsuit would bar NVIDIA from ever making another chipset in the vein of the GeForce 9400M that could support Core i7 or related processors; it would immediately sabotage any roadmap for NVIDIA-based Macs once the ban took effect, no matter how amicable Apple and its partner would be at the time.

Mac Pros would never be affected as they still use an Intel chipset and dedicated graphics for the brunt of their graphics performance.

Unsurprisingly, neither Apple nor NVIDIA has openly discussed the rumor so far, though at least Apple’s sudden change of mind wouldn’t be out of place: the company famously dropped ATI (now AMD) graphics from a generation of Power Mac G4s at the last minute after the company posted a press release spoiling Apple plans just a day ahead of a Macworld keynote.

How-To: Add Multi-Touch Functionality to Your Pre-2008 Apple Notebook Trackpad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 18:13
Category: How-To, MacBook

Amidst heated controversy as to whether Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system will add multi-touch gestures to older MacBook and MacBook pro notebooks, the guys at The Unofficial Apple Weblog have taken it upon themselves to ask what makes a multi-touch trackpad unique and how to simulate this on an Apple notebook sans such an interface. The answer lies in an embedded controller chip, identical to the one in the iPhone and iPod Touch, which allows advanced input from more than two fingers at once.

Later, Apple’s unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros debuted with multi-touch trackpads, but also introduced new four-finger gestures, which will not be officially supported in the older MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros until Snow Leopard’s release.

The original MacBook Air and early 2008 MacBook Pro are the only machines which will gain additional gestures via Snow Leopard. The only reason these notebook models are able to gain these gestures via software updates, while earlier MacBook Pros and all plastic MacBooks are not, is because they possess the multi-touch controller chip in their trackpads.

The following is the list of Apple notebooks that will support multi-touch gestures, either now or after Snow Leopard:

  • MacBook Air (all models)
  • Early 2008 MacBook Pro
  • Late 2008 17″ MacBook Pro
  • Unibody MacBook (all models)
  • Unibody MacBook Pro (all models)

Still, for pre-2008 and plastic MacBook owners, the following steps (courtesy of the MacRumors forums) can help bring multi-touch functionality to your notebook:

First, download a modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext file. Navigate to System/Library/Extensions, and remove the old AppleUSBMultitouch.kext (you will need to type in your admin password).

Move the modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext into System/Library/Extensions. You’ll most likely have to type in your password again.

This next step is critical: repair disk permissions using Disk Utility. If you don’t, after you restart your trackpad will not function.

Once permissions are repaired, restart. Success!

This procedure isn’t for the faint of heart and will probably have to be repeated with every major Mac OS X 10.5.x update, but it should provide multi-touch goodness if you want it.