AT&T to Deploy HSPA 7.2 Network Ahead of Third Generation iPhone Launch

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 09:13
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has formally announced plans to deploy its 7.2 Mbps HSPA 7.2 network this year, the deployment supporting faster iPhone models expected for release this summer.
According to AppleInsider, AT&T has stated that the HSPA 7.2 upgrade will deliver theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network. The company has stated that installation will continue through 2011 and that AT&T will begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
AT&T has stated that its current 3G service is available in 350 major US metro areas, with deployment in another 20 planned this year. The company stated that its new HSPA 7.2 technology “will be deployed widely in the network, with the benefits of the network upgrade to be announced on a local basis as the faster speeds are turned up.”
The company also said it will introduce “multiple HSPA 7.2-compatible laptop cards and smartphones beginning later this year.” Apple is expected to release a new iPhone model in June that supports HSPA 7.2 service. In addition to having access to a faster network, the new iPhone model is expected to have a significantly faster processor, enabling it to better handle the data it can receive, resulting in faster overall operation.
Along with the upgrade to HSPA 7.2, AT&T also reported plans to build out other network improvements this year as part of a capital investment plan costing $17-18 billion.
Elements include:

  • Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity: In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
  • More Bandwidth to Cell Sites: AT&T is adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
  • More Cell Sites: Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
  • Wi-Fi Integration: Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
  • MicroCells: Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
  • Rumor: Possible Next-Gen iPhone Bezel Image Leaked

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 08:46
    Category: iPhone, Rumor

    A leak from yesterday morning may prove interesting as web site China Ontrade claims to be the first with a replacement third-generation iPhone’s bezel and says it comes “directly from [the] factory.” The design would have a black metallic frame instead of chrome, as found on the current iPhone 3G model. It also stops near the very top of the shell rather than running a complete circle like existing iPhone models, and appears to move the phone speaker significantly higher.
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    Although the authenticity of the bezel is difficult to determine, many firms in the region do have access (both authorized and unauthorized unauthorized) to parts from factories. Still, there is no way to verify that China Ontrade has the authentic part and not that for a different company’s device. Part leaks from China have nonetheless confirmed Apple products in the past, such as the unibody MacBook notebook.
    If real, the bezel would rebuff earlier beliefs that the new iPhones are internal upgrades alone rather than redesigns.

    Apple Quietly Bumps Specs for White MacBook Notebook, Retains $999 Price

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009, 08:09
    Category: MacBook, News

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    Early Wednesday, Apple quietly upgraded its entry-level MacBook notebook. The white plastic MacBook, which is still priced at US$999, now offers a 160 GB hard drive, 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a slightly faster RAM speed with the model sporting 2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog.
    The previous version, released back in January, boasted a 2.0GHz processor with a 120GB hard drive and 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM. Other features on the revised MacBook remain the same, including the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card that was previously found on the model.

    Nvidia Admits to “Ongoing” Failure Problem in Some Notebooks During SEC Filing

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 08:22
    Category: Finance

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    Graphics processor firm Nvidia formally stated that some notebooks utilizing its chips continue to have “failure” issues, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.
    Per cnet, Nvidia stated that though it does not continue to see “abnormal failure rates” in systems using Nvidia products,” some notebooks are still affected.
    “We continue to not see any abnormal failure rates in any systems using Nvidia products other than certain notebook configurations. However, we are continuing to test and otherwise investigate other products,” Nvidia said, adding, “there can be no assurance that we will not discover defects in other MCP or GPU products.” (MCP stands for Media and Communications Processor; GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit.)
    On July 2 of last year, Nvidia announced that the company was planning to take a one-time charge to cover costs associated with problems with materials used in certain versions of its laptop graphics chips. Subsequently, a US$196 million charge was recorded in the second quarter of its 2009 fiscal year to “cover anticipated customer warranty, repair, return, replacement and associated costs” with the problem.
    In the company’s 10-Q filing, Nvidia cited a “balance of US$145.7 million associated with incremental repair and replacement costs from a weak die/packaging material set.” and “US$31.2 million for the three months ended April 26, 2009 in payments related to the warranty accrual associated with incremental repair and replacement costs from a weak die/packaging material set.”
    Nvidia paid or incurred US$50.3 million against the original “warranty accrual” in its fiscal third quarter and fourth quarter 2009, such that the remaining balance of the “bump-crack accrual” (defect) was US$145.7 million at the end of its fiscal fourth quarter, according to Nvidia.
    Nvidia is also negotiating with insurance companies over payments to PC makers regarding GPU failures, according to a report filed by TGDaily.
    As early as 2007, Hewlett-Packard listed notebook models affected by the graphics chip glitch. In August 2008, Dell also listed affected models with Apple stating in October that it would repair faulty graphics chips.
    In the 10-Q filing, Nvidia also stated that “in September, October and November 2008, several putative consumer class action lawsuits were filed against us, asserting various claims arising from a weak die/packaging material set in certain versions of our previous generation MCP and GPU products used in notebook systems.”

    How-To: Get Around MacBook/MacBook Pro Sleep Issues with Mac OS X 10.5.7

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, May 19th, 2009, 08:46
    Category: How-To

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    Mac OS X 10.5.7 has been out less than a week and, according to MacFixIt, a number of users have reported sleep issues with MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks upon installing the updated operating system software.
    Over on the Apple Discussion Board, reader “Roger G” reported the following:

    “The 10.5.7 upgrade (both with Combo and Delta from Safe mode) killed the ability of my white MacBook to sleep via clamshell closing. After a reboot, the system would sleep normally, but awakening the system and then sleeping would result in a system freeze. The monitor light on the case would not wax and wane in brightness but would stay on full. A few minutes later the fans would start spinning at full speed until the battery drained or the machine was rebooted.”

    User “smitty 195″ expressed a similar sentiment with the following:

    “I am having the identical problem as everyone else (freezes on 2nd sleep attempt). I have a MacBook Pro, and upgraded to 10.5.7 yesterday.”

    Per various reports around support forums, the issue appears to be tied into Ethernet settings on the notebooks, as described by “Andreas S.”:

    “It appears that if the Ethernet is not enabled (airport only network settings) that on the MacBook Pro the sleep only works once and crashes the second time.”

    The following steps are currently being offered as a fix for the issue:

    1. Open System Preferences > Network
    2-1. If you see your Ethernet port in your list of network ports (on the left-side of the window) and it says “Inactive,” activate the port by clicking the gear wheel icon and selecting “Make Service Active.” Click “Apply.”
    2-2. If you do not see your Ethernet port in your list of network ports (on the left-side of the window), click the “+” button in the bottom-left corner.
    3. In the “Interface” drop-down menu, select “Ethernet.”
    4. Enter a name and select “Create.” You should see your new Ethernet connection appear.
    5. Click “Apply.”
    Note: If you are having this issue and your Ethernet port is already enabled, try disabling it (using the gear wheel icon menu > “Make Service Inactive”). Log out or restart your Mac, then enable it. Be sure to “Apply” your changes.

    Once complete, the notebook can be testing by closing the screen and seeing if the sleep function succeeds. Be sure to try this twice, as several reports have pointed to the second attempt at sleep to be the one that causes the issue.

    TechRestore Now Offering 500GB, 7200 RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:50
    Category: hard drive, MacBook, MacBook Pro

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    Concord-based TechRestore announced on Tuesday that the company has begun offering the first 500 gigabyte, 7200 RPM overnight drive upgrade. The offer includes data transfer and free shipping wherein MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook users can have a new hard drive installed with cloned data and returned via free shipping.
    Clients also have the option of having their old hard drive installed into an external enclosure for an additional US$39 and nationwide door-to-door pickup service is available for the upgrade as well as local pickup from one of over 2000 TechRestore local pickup centers throughout the United States.
    The Overnight 500GB 7200RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade for MacBook and MacBook Pro retails for US$299.
    Note: TechRestore is an official PowerPage sponsor.

    Apple Now Involved in Class Action Suit Regarding MagSafe Power Adapters

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:28
    Category: Legal, MacBook

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    A recently filed class action lawsuit has accused Apple Inc. of neglecting a flaw in its MagSafe power connector for MacBook notebooks that might not only cause a break but could trigger sparks, forcing customers to buy replacements and even creating a potential fire hazard.
    According to AppleInsider, the suit, which was submitted late last week to a Northern District of California court in San Jose, the joint complaint from Tim Broad, Naotaka Kitagawa and Jesse Reisman claims that the MagSafe cable used for the MacBook and MacBook Pro will inevitably fray near one of its connecting ends. The claim contradicts Apple’s claims that the adapter is “durable.” The plaintiffs allege that day-to-day use, including winding the cable around the power adapter’s pop-out guides, ends up destroying the cable over time — and that Apple is aware of the problem but hasn’t fully addressed it with a safer design.
    All three plaintiffs at varying points have had to buy replacement MagSafe adapters for their systems that, in two cases, have already either needed a replacement or are showing signs of needing one. The plastic sheath on the cable in each circumstance was often melted away and exposed the bare wiring. In the complaint, Broad noted the heat was enough that it might have caused fire damage to his home if he hadn’t been present to watch for the danger signs.
    “It almost burned my hand when I brushed it accidentally,” he says in the 27-page filing.
    The trio also points to numerous examples of similar patterns online, including Apple’s own online store, where the cables had frayed, melted or sparked and forced customers to get one or more replacements. Apple, meanwhile, only asks customers to visit a certified Apple service location if sparks occur anywhere other than at the power plug’s metal prongs; many of these visits, however, only result in the customers buying another US$80 adapter rather than receiving a free replacement.
    As the problem is already known to affect “at least thousands” of users and may well include hundreds of thousands with the exact same issue, the plaintiffs want class action status to represent anyone who may have bought an affected MacBook and have charged Apple with violating California’s business codes as well as breaching the implied and explicit warranties attached to the computers.
    Broad, Kitagawa and Reisman want Apple to not only refund any of the associated costs with the known defective products but to warn the public and, if successful, pay punitive damages alongside the expected compensation.
    As always, Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

    Apple Posts Job Listing for 3G Engineer for Mac Hardware Group, May Bring Additional Functionality to MacBook Line

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:45
    Category: MacBook, Rumor

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    Over the past couple years, 3G has become a common buzzword within the technology industry. The iPhone 3G has it right there in the name, some PC laptops have the functionality built in and Mac notebooks have access to it via third-party add-ons.
    Computerworld has reported that Apple is now advertising a new “Communications QA Engineer” position in the Mac Hardware Group at the Cupertino campus.
    The posting specifies the job’s description as : “Testing and reporting hardware, software, and device driver bugs for Communications technologies including AirPort (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth v2.0, gigabit Ethernet, and/or 3G Wireless WAN in a detailed, timely manner [emphasis added].”
    While it’s not chiseled out in stone, there is the possibility that Apple could be adding 3G functionality to its MacBook notebook line. This could also be in reference to testing that encompasses third-party 3G modems to check for interference with the MacBooks’ other built-in wireless systems.
    Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, but this could be interesting.

    Apple and Microsoft Target Smart Shoppers in Marketing Campaigns

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:08
    Category: Opinion

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    By Rachel Hoyer
    Who hasn’t seen the ubiquitous Microsoft “laptop hunters” and Apple’s “get a Mac” commercials? Each ad campaign attempts to convince the audience that savvy consumers purchase their brand. Microsoft uses documentary-style commercials where they offer “real” consumers (who are actually actors) a certain amount of money to purchase a new computer. Not surprisingly, each time they select a PC.
    According to the testimonials, sticker price is the deciding factor. Microsoft suggests that PCs are far cheaper than a comparable Mac. In other words, the smart shopper purchases a PC. “I guess I’m just not hip enough to buy a Mac,” quips a computer shopper in one ad. The inference is that those who buy Macs are more concerned with image than value or performance.
    By comparison, Apple’s ads use actors to personify the two types of computers. New York actor John Hodgman plays the dorky and backwards PC guy (ironically, he reportedly owns a Mac in real life). Whereas, Justin Long, who plays the Mac guy, is hip, organized and forward-thinking. Dialogue between the actors reveals that Appl’s products are easy to use and offer more helpful features than PCs. The implied conclusion is that smart shoppers buy Macs because Macs easily perform tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform on PCs.
    Both ad campaigns want the viewer to identify with the core values represented in their commercials. In the case of Microsoft, they’d like you to believe that you’d be a fool to spend more on a Mac when you they offer the same thing for a much better price. Apple insinuates that you’re uninformed if you think the two types of computers are comparable.
    There’s some truth to both allegations. It’s accurate that the purchase price of Macs tend to be higher than PCs with similar specifications. Nearly all widely used applications are available on both platforms, including Microsoft Windows. So, why would a smart shopper choose an Apple product? In brief: The value of your time. Thus far, Apple has been far more successful at integrating interface, applications and data. Additionally, as stated in their commercials, Apple is ahead of the trend when it comes to anticipating how consumers actually use their products. They design features to accommodate those needs. Microsoft products require you to constantly tinker with your operating system, including changing settings, fixing compatibility issues, scanning the registry for malware and defragmenting your hard drive. And the list wouldn’t be complete without mention of the extensive troubleshooting required upon encountering the infamous blue screen of death, with which every Microsoft user is familiar.
    There’s something to be said for a computer that doesn’t require frequent maintenance. Time is has a monetary value. After spending a certain amount of time fixing your PC, perhaps the Mac becomes a better value after all. In case you’re wondering which kind of computer I own, I’m the kind of consumer who buys a computer based on how I plan to use it rather than marketing, and I expect you are, too.

    Hands on with the Runcore Pro IV 2.5-inch SATA SSD

    Posted by:
    Date: Monday, May 4th, 2009, 13:10
    Category: Accessory, hard drive

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    Over on the Apple Core, Jason O’Grady has a full hands-on rundown the the Runcore SATA solid state drive as well as its impressive benchmark numbers.
    The drive itself can be dropped into any MacBook notebook.
    Take a gander and see what you think.