Rumor: Apple to Release New iMacs, MacBooks for Holiday Season

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Date: Wednesday, September 16th, 2009, 04:10
Category: iMac, MacBook, Rumor

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A recently report from the Barron’s financial publication alleges that Apple will release new iMacs and MacBook notebooks within a matter of weeks to refresh its offerings before the holiday season.

The report, which surfaced from Wedge Partners, said that the new iMacs will sport a thinner design with smooth edges. However, the MacBook refresh is said to be “limited.”

The document also cited likely price cuts, as tHe company sees the lower prices as a competitive alternative to Windows 7 machines. Wedge Partners predicts that Apple will sell 3 million Macs in the holiday season, riding the wave of price cuts and new products.

While new hardware should come as no surprise, AppleInsider has previously heard word of new iMacs and MacBooks. Last month rumors surfaced that the new Imacs would have compelling new features, one of which was said to have long been on Mac users’ wish lists, and another that would appeal to the semi-professional audio/video crowd.

Other rumors have stated that Apple would retain and redesign its line of plastic MacBooks. With only one non-Pro offering in the lineup, Apple is allegedly redesigning the systems with a slimmer, lighter enclosure and restructured internal architecture. Analysts have long believed that cracking the sub-US$1,000 notebook market would be a huge boon for Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple May Overhaul Entry-Level Polycarbonate MacBook Models

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

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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 Quietly Offers Matte Screen Option for 15″ MacBook Pro Notebook

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Date: Tuesday, August 11th, 2009, 04:08
Category: MacBook Pro

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Following up on a rumor from a few weeks ago, Apple has quietly restored the antiglare upgrade option for its 15″ MacBook Pro notebook line. Per AppleInsider, the change is a slight reversal from two years ago when the company began transitioning its entire Mac product line away from matte displays to the highly-reflective option that was the only offering on the 15″ MacBook Pro lineup. The change is available as a US$50 add-on.

Previously, only the 17-inch MacBook Pro offered the US$50 antiglare option. Tuesday’s change brings the features to the 15″ line, though the 13″ Pro model remains glossy-only.

The transition towards glossy displays appears to have been sparked by the original iPhone, whose glass touchscreen and black border resonated well with customers. The reception was favorable enough that Apple, in a bid to push the envelope and standardize materials across its product families, gave similar treatment to its iMac line a few months later.

That October, Apple announced that its new line of unibody notebooks would also forgo matte displays for glossy ones, with the exception of a US$50 antiglare option on the pricey 17-inch MacBook Pro. These new displays “provide crisp images and vivid colors which are ideal for viewing photos and movies,” Apple said, “and the edge-to-edge cover glass creates a smooth, seamless surface.”

The move was met with indifference from some users while others threw their arms up in panic, horrified at the glare now present on their high-end notebooks.

Whatever the case, Apple seems to have appreciated the concern, as it did with the outrage over the brief absence of FireWire on its 13″ notebook offerings. Apple has apparently been following the numerous petitions and online threads dedicated to the display matter and quietly reversed itself where possible.

Apple Working on Fix for Hard Drive Noise Issue in MacBook Pro Notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 10th, 2009, 04:32
Category: hard drive, MacBook Pro

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Apple may be working on a fix for a MacBook Pro issue in which owners have complained of annoying hard drive beeps and clicks from their notebooks.

According to AppleInsider, an Apple Discussions Board thread containing hundreds of posts features users complaining that their 7,200RPM hard drives will randomly click and beep, and some have experienced slower access times. The issue appears to have grown since it was first reported in January.

In recent days, numerous users have posted in the thread on the Apple Support forums, stating they were told on the phone by AppleCare representatives that the company is working on a fix. On Friday, user jgcamil wrote that he was told by Level 2 support that Apple is “highly” aware of the issue and it is one of the company’s “highest priorities.” But, he was also told he would have to “live with” the issue until an update is made available.

One AppleInsider reader whose MacBook Pro beeps occasionally said he’s frustrated that Apple has remained quiet on his costly investment. He said after researching the problem, he believes it’s caused by the original firmware for the hard drive.

“The crazy thing is that you can read comments about AppleCare Engineers stance on this issue: ‘Its normal behavior,’ (and) ‘Apple´s Working on a fix,’” he told AppleInsider. “Also, some of them are recommending doing a complete reinstall, when this issue is factory related.”

Users have also uploaded videos documenting the issue, including the one below:



If you’ve seen this issue on 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

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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.

Some Users Reporting Hard Drive Lag with 17″ MacBook Pro Notebook

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 4th, 2009, 04:31
Category: News

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Over on the Apple Discussion Boards, multiple users are contributing to a thread discussing hard drive lag on Apple’s current 17″ MacBook Pro notebook. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, several users report hearing the hard drive park itself, but at inappropriate times, causing the rainbow spinning wheel to appear and bringing all tasks to a halt. This comes a short time after other users have reported a strange beep.

One user reported no red flags while running Activity Monitor while another went so far as to swap the hard drive to no avail. Still another user reportedly fixed the problem by creating a secondnd user account.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or arrived at your own fix, please let us know in the comments.

Early Predictions Arrive for Apple Q3 Earnings

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

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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!

MacBook Air Overheating Issue Noted, Fixes Suggested

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Date: Wednesday, July 15th, 2009, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air

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Over on the mighty MacFixIt, reader “Martin V.” wrote in to desribe an ongoing issue wherein his new MacBook Air notebook began to experience a “kernel_task” process that caused his system to run abnormally hot.

“A few months ago I bought a MacBookAir1,1 (standard hard disk, no solid state) which was then hugely reduced in price (€999). Lately it has been nearly impossible to watch youtube video’s (for instance). If I do the machine gets really hot and slows down dramatically. A process called ‘kernel_task’ uses almost all resources. Just do a search on “macbook air” and “kernel_task” and you’ll see this is a widely spread problem”

Over on the Apple Discussion Boards, a large number of users appear to be encountering the same issue with the following solutions being offered:

“it seems to be temperature issue, i.e. the system tries with the kernel task to avoid an overheating of the cpu/gpu.
those guys here (Plasma Design) recommend a cpu undervolting to reduce this heating. they use CoolBook
you can get it for $10. i just installed it and hope that it helps.”

In addition to the Apple Discussions Board back and forth on this, you can also find a full MacRumors forum thread as to how to use CoolBook to best deal with the overheating issue.

Apple Releases MacBook Air Update SMC 1.2

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Date: Tuesday, June 30th, 2009, 04:56
Category: Mac, MacBook Air, Software

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Apple released its MacBook Air SMC Firmware Update 1.2 patch yesterday, a 623 kilobyte download that offers the following fixes and changes per the web site:

“This SMC firmware update adds compatibility for the latest service replacement batteries…. After this update has successfully completed, your SMC Version will be: 1.23f20 [for original MacBook Air models, or] 1.34f8 [for more recent models].”

SMC Firmware Updates generally control the System Management Controller on Intel-based Macs. The SMC controls power and thermal management features, including the battery and fans. In this case, new replacement batteries from Apple are apparently different enough that they require the use of this updated version of the SMC firmware.

The update can be downloaded directly or snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Latest High-End MacBook Air Performing Slower Than Predecessor

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Date: Monday, June 29th, 2009, 04:47
Category: MacBook Air

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Taken at face value, the specifications tied to Apple’s most recent MacBook Air updates imply the latest pair of ultra-slim notebooks should handily outperform their predecessors, but a new report claims this notion only holds true for the slower of the two models.

According to Macworld’s review, the most recent MacBook Air notebooks, an entry-level US$1,499 model with a 1.86GHz processor and 120GB hard drive, and a high-end version for US$1,799 that sports a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 128GB solid-state flash drive, have been tested against their predecessors introduced last October: a 1.6GHz model with a 120GB (then priced at US$1799) and a 1.86GHz version with 128GB solid-state flash drive (then priced at US$2499).

While the new low-end 1.86GHz model bested its 1.6GHz predecessor, outperforming it in most tests and recording a Speedmark score of 11 points higher at 156, the same couldn’t be said for the new high-end 2.13GHz MacBook Air, which achieve a score of 175 — a full 4 points lower than the previous-gen 1.86GHz model.

“What’s weird about the new high-end MacBook Air model is that although it cost dramatically less than its immediate predecessor, it was also slower than that model,” wrote Macworld’s editor, Jason Snell. “The late-2008 1.86GHz MacBook Air was faster than the new top-of-the-line model in 11 of our 18 tests, and as a result, the old system’s final Speedmark score was slightly higher.”

Snell also reported that he saw several cases in which the new, low-end MacBook Air, with its slower Core 2 Duo chip and hard disk drive, outperform the high-end model and its sold-state flash drive. He notes that this may be the result of hard drives being known to outperform their solid state drives in certain operations, but added that the slower system also beat the faster model in some video compression and 3D rendering tests.

“We’re not quite sure why this is happening, though it’s possible that the Air’s thermal-protection systems are aggressively ratcheting down the speed of the faster, hotter processors when they’re asked to perform those tasks, slowing their performance,” he wrote.

In light of these results, it’s worth noting that several Apple authorized resellers maintain inventory of the previous-generation 1.86GHz MacBook Air, which they’re discounting to a price of US$1,649 (roughly US$150 cheaper than than the new 2.13GHz model they appear to be outperforming).