Apple awarded carbon fiber manufacturing patent, could make future MacBooks lighter, more shock resistant

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012, 07:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Patents

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The way your new MacBook notebook is manufactured is about to change.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a carbon fiber molding process that could one day be used to produce parts made from the lightweight material, like laptop casings or mobile device chassis.

The patent, number 8,257,075, for a “Carbon composite mold design” describes the systems and methods needed to manufacture “aesthetically pleasing” parts from carbon fiber and other resin based composites.

While the applications of carbon fiber composite materials are many, Apple specifically notes that the invention can be used to “form outer housings for a laptop computer or other similar device.” The patent may prove useful as an increasing consumer demand has pushed the industry toward slim and sleek portables with relatively heavy large screens. For example, the weight of the much-rumored next-generation iPhone’s expected 4-inch screen could be offset by a carbon fiber monocoque.

It seems that the invention is aimed at larger devices like Apple’s MacBook line, however, much like Sony’s carbon fiber Vaio Z thin-and-light series.

The patent is described as follows:
“As but one example, it would be particularly helpful if portable electronic device housings and components could be stronger and more durable than what is now typically provided in plastic parts that are formed via ordinary plastic injection molding processes. In particular, it would be beneficial if laptops, notebook computers, and other relatively large and heavy portable computing devices could have outer housings that are better able to protect the entire device from drops and other mechanical shocks.”

The patent notes that traditional resin-based composites are made by layering resin-impregnated sheets of into or over a mold, which then cures under increased heat and pressure. Removal of the part can prove a hassle as the resins stick to the mold surfaces, which often requires manual prying and peeling from an operator. As a result, surface blemishes and other defects often occur.

Apple’s proposed method looks to enable the mass-production of carbon fiber parts that have a consistent visual appearance by streamlining the manufacturing process.

The invention calls for a two-part mold, one a cavity and another portion “adapted to mate with the first,” allowing composite parts to be formed in between. After curing, ejector pins located on one or both of the mold portions are used to separate the material from the mold body.

In another embodiment, a mold can have one or more internal fluid lines to help with cooling, a permanent release coating, and guide pins to accurately align the fiber sheets. Either a fluid or gas-actuated ejection system can also be employed for easy removal of the cured parts.

While Apple has shown no signs of using the advanced carbon fiber molding techniques in any future devices, the company may very well choose to do so in its push toward lighter and stronger products.

So, if nothing else, your future MacBook could become lighter, stronger and perhaps shoot lasers at those who oppose you.

Which is never a bad thing.

Analyst: Apple producing 13-inch Retina Display screens, may launch 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro this fall

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You love the MacBook Pro with the Retina Display.

Get ready for it in a smaller size.

Per CNET, an analyst citing upstream supply chain sources claims that a high-resolution display bound for a rumored 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is now in production, with initial output volumes expected to be higher than the current 15-inch version.

According to NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim, the display purportedly being produced for the smallest MacBook Pro features a resolution of 2,560-by-1600 pixels, compared to the current iteration’s 1,280-by-800 pixel screen.

“The supply chain indications are that it’s for a MacBook Pro 13.3 — not a MacBook Air,” Shim said.

The analyst goes on to say Samsung, LG Display and Sharp are all churning out the new 13-inch panel to meet a higher initial volume compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display’s launch in June. Stock of Apple’s top-of-the-line laptop quickly dwindled as supply couldn’t meet demand due to low display yield rates, and only recently has the company been able to catch up, with shipments now quoted at two to four business days.

“With 15.4 it’s production of a few hundred thousand units versus one to two million for the 13.3,” Shim said. He prefaced the estimates by noting volume depends on yield rates, noting that if the manufacturers are able to reach rate of 70, 80, or 90 percent, output of the 13-inch panel will likely be in the “million and a half range.”

Shim also pointed out that the manufacturing capabilities of the three different suppliers can factor into how many displays will be ready for assembly.

“With Samsung, if you look at the new [Retina] iPad, they had fewer issues reaching the higher resolution requests from Apple,” he said. “They were the first vendor to get to volume with that panel.”

The production timeline could point to a fall debut for the rumored 13-inch Retina display-packing MacBook Pro, which is in line with previous reports that Apple would be launching the laptop in September.

Sunday’s rumor comes on the heels of multiple sightings (1, 2) of an unknown MacBook Pro seen on online benchmarking site Geekbench.

Currently, the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is identified as “MacBookPro10,1,” while the legacy 15-inch model is “MacBookPro9,1.” The “10,2″ identifier, first spotted in the logs of an online battery testing site, hints at a Retina version of the 13-inch laptop as the recently updated non-Retina version carries the “MacBookPro9,2″ designation.

While it is unclear when Apple will decide to launch the purported device, the company is expected to debut the next-generation iPhone at an as-yet-unannounced Sept. 12 event. Further rumors suggest a smaller iPad will also be launched in October ahead of a revamped iPod touch and iPod nano.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Geekbench scores of purported 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro leaked

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Date: Friday, August 10th, 2012, 14:54
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

You have to love leaks.

And you have to love leaks about really cool upcoming products even more.

Per MacRumors and AppleInsider, the GeekBench scores for an unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro notebook with Retina display designated by the ambiguous identifier “MacBook Pro 10,2″ has appeared over on the Primate Labs web site.

The profile of the machine accompanying the Geekbench scores includes the same Intel Core i7-3520M Ivy Bridge processor clocked at 2.9 gigahertz as the earlier sighting, but indicates the notebook was outfitted with 8GB of RAM and is running a newer, yet unreleased build of OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.1.

The “10,2″ model designation makes it distinct from the existing 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro 9,x models Apple released in June and instead associates it with the slim new 15-inch Retina Display model Apple internally designates as its “MacBook Pro 10,1″ model.

Given that Apple canceled its 17 inch offering (apparently due to limited sales, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities correctly predicted in April), this would strongly suggest the new model will be the rumored 13 inch version of the Retina Display MacBook Pro.

The appearance of 8GB of RAM is also noteworthy because the new design of the Retina Display MacBook Pro solders its memory chips directly to the logic board (below, highlighted in green) rather than offering user-upgradable sockets. The previous appearance of this new 13 inch model only indicated 4GB of RAM.

The unreleased new MacBook Pro model joins a new iMac and Mac Pro model designation that were recently discovered, with the new iMac similarly appearing in Geekbench results.

Per the results themselves, here you go and some things (like the idea of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display) remain pretty sexy:



Picture: MacBook Pros galore helped Curiosity get to Mars

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 6th, 2012, 06:06
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Pictures

By the time I graduated from high school in 1996, I was one of two people in my school routinely carrying a notebook computer through the halls of Providence Country Day in East Providence, Rhode Island. I carried a PowerBook 150 and one of my best friends, Josh Ledgard, carried a white Toshiba notebook that he had named “Herbie”.

It was also around this time that Apple was at its lowest point, Steve Jobs had yet to officially return in any capacity and people wondered aloud if Apple would die and why I didn’t carry a Windows PC notebook?

A picture’s worth a thousand words, ladies and gentlemen, and via the extremely cool cats at 9to5 Mac, there’s the following killer picture of not just a few MacBook Pro notebooks helping to land Curiosity on Mars last night:



And yes, I know some of them may have booted Linux or Windows partitions at the time, so that joke still stands…

Happy Curiosity Day, guys!!!

Apple reduces shipping times for Retina Display MacBook Pro to under a week

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Date: Thursday, August 2nd, 2012, 07:17
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

You know that mucho-spiffy new MacBook Pro with the Retina Display you’ve been saving up for? Now it’ll get to you in a shorter time frame.

Per AppleInsider, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is now advertised to ship in 5 to 7 business days from Apple’s online store.

Both the 2.3 gigahertz and 2.6 gigahertz standard configuration models now ship in a week or less when ordered directly from Apple. Previously, estimated shipping times were pegged at 2 to 3 weeks.

The shortened shipping times come as Apple has also expanded configuration options for the entry-level MacBook Pro with Retina display, allowing users to add 512- or 768-gigabyte solid-state drives to the base model with a 2.3-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor.

Shipping times for the MacBook Pro with Retina display have readily improved since the next-generation notebook was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has called the new MacBook Pro, which borrows elements from the thin-and-light MacBook Air, “the most beautiful computer we have ever made.”

The standout feature of the new MacBook Pro is its 2,880-by-1,880-pixel Retina display that features 220 pixels-per-inch on the 15.4-inch screen. The new design also cuts glare by 75 percent by removing the glass cover found in previous models.

In addition to Apple’s own online store, the new MacBook Pro with Retina display is also available for purchase from authorized Apple resellers.

If you’ve ordered a Retina Display MacBook Pro and it’s en route, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Rumor: Apple readying changes for next-gen iPad’s battery, camera lens

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 5th, 2012, 06:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Sometimes a few changes are needed.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is planning to make “small revisions” to its third-generation iPad, such as an enlarged lens hole and changes to the battery to keep the device from overheating, later this year.

Supply chain sources have indicated that Apple will likely release the updated iPad “around the holiday season.”

“The sources said the new iPad’s battery is being revised, which will help prevent overheating issues and could possibly make the device slightly lighter and thinner than previously designed,” the report noted.

No reason was given as to what Apple hoped to accomplish by enlarging the iPad’s lens hole. The third-generation tablet, which was released in March, features a 5-megapixel rear camera and a front camera capable of VGA-quality photos.

DigiTimes has a mixed track record and has been criticized for its willingness to report even the most speculative rumors from its sources. The publication did, however, correctly predict the Retina Display on both the new iPad and the new MacBook Pro.

Apple’s new iPad took some heat from product reviewer Consumer Reports shortly after release because it felt “very warm” while running a game. Separate tests also showed the device ran hotter than the second-generation iPad, though one report noted that the tablet was not much hotter than Android tablets or notebook computers.

For its part, Apple dismissed the concerns by stating that the new iPad operates “well within our thermal specifications.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OWC unveils 960GB notebook SSD for almost $1,300

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 09:23
Category: Hardware, News

It’s the huge SSD unit you always wanted for your Mac notebook…and it’ll be pricey.

Per Mac|Life, Mac peripherals outfitter Other World Computing has announced the availability of the Mercury Electra MAX 3G, a whopping 960GB 2.5-inch solid-state storage drive clocked at 3.0Gb/s for high performance as well as high capacity.

The drive purportedly offers sustained reads up to 254MB/s and writes up to 250MB/s and while not quite as impressive as the read/write speeds clocked from Apple’s latest flash storage on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display or even MacBook Air, it’s still pretty nifty for an SSD unit with no moving parts.

The Mercury Electra MAX 3G 960GB is available for US$1,269.99 and is currently in stock for same-day shipping.

LG pinpointed as supplier for MacBook Pro Retina Display

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 06:27
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Per a tweet by iFixit, electronics maker LG was identified as one of the parties responsible for the new Retina Display in the recently-released 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook.

Particular interest has been paid to who supplies components to Apple since its largest supplier, Samsung, has become a fierce rival and legal opponent. Over the last year, Apple has shown signs that it would like to move away from relying on Samsung for components, but the company is believed to have been the only partner who could produce Retina displays for the third-generation iPad at launch earlier this year.

The wedge between the two companies has been driven by competition in the smartphone and tablet markets. Last April, Apple was first to sue, when it accused Samsung of copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad, and the two companies are now involved in a number of lawsuits that span around the world.

LG has been a major supplier of LCD displays to Apple over the years, and in 2009 the two companies reached a US$500 million deal for the supply of flat-panel displays through the year 2013. But the relationship between the two companies may have strained late last year, when LG was said to have lost its status as the leading display maker for Apple’s iPad 2, when a batch of LCD shipments were reportedly plagued with quality issues.

Going forward, Sharp is also expected to be a major partner with Apple for screen production. Last year, reports indicated Apple had invested in a Sharp plant in Japan, while this year Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn bought a 10 percent stake in Sharp to help boost its LCD business.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Pro (Retina) Trackpad Update 1.0 as quick fix for new product line

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, 07:43
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

There’s always an initial glitch or two with a new product line…

Apple on Tuesday released the first software update for the Retina Display MacBook Pro to fix possible trackpad input issues a little over 24 hours after the new machine was debuted on Monday.

Per AppleInsider, MacBook Pro (Retina) Trackpad Update 1.0 addresses an issue where the next generation notebook’s “trackpad may not respond consistently to user input,” according to Apple’s Support Page.

The update comes only a day after Apple’s chief of marketing Phil Schiller unveiled the hotly-anticipated device onstage at WWDC 2012.

While shipments of the Retina Display-sporting 15-inch MacBook Pro have slipped to two to three weeks, some early adopters have already gotten their hands on the first units sold. The number of affected machines is unknown and the issue itself has so far gone largely unreported.

The 1.26MB update can be downloaded through this link or Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and is only applicable to users of the new Retina Display MacBook Pro.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new Retina Display MacBook Pro and had a chance to try this update, please let us know.

Apple releases updated MacBook Pro notebooks, adds Retina Display feature to higher-end models

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 14:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You may have gotten your wish.

Per AppleInsider, Apple delivered its long-awaited update of its MacBook Pro notebook on Monday, adding Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, as well as dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics on the 15-inch model.

The updated MacBook Pro is different from the next-generation MacBook Pro Apple unveiled on Monday, as the legacy model maintains the design of its predecessor, as well as the optical disc drive. But the hardware has been updated with new processors and better performance.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,280 by 800 display with options for a 2.5 gigahertz dual-core i5 processor, or a 2.9 gigahertz dual-core i7. The low-end model has a 500 gigabyte hard drive and 4 gigabytes of RAM for US$1,199, while the high-end model sports 8 gigabyte of RAM and a 750 gigabyte hard drive for US$1,499.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,440 by 900 pixel display, and both models feature Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics. The low-end model has 512 megabytes of graphics memory, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 500 gigabyte hard drive for $1,799. The high-end model has 1 gigabyte of graphics memory, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a 750 gigabyte hard drive for US$2,199.

For those with deeper pockets and a craving for Retina Display goodness, the company unveiled an all-new ultra-thin professional MacBook Pro with a high-resolution Retina display.

Unveiled on Monday by marketing head Phil Schiller at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the new MacBook Pro is as thin as the MacBook Air, at just 0.71 inches thick, Apple said. It’s also the lightest Pro ever, weighing under 4 and a half pounds.

The new model’s 15.4-inch display is said to boasts a resolution of 2,880 by 1,880 pixels which equates to a dense 220 pixels per inch, the highest of any laptop in the world Apple says. Like the iPhone and iPad before it, the new Retina Display has pixels so small that Apple says your eyes cannot discern them from a reasonable distance.

The screen has also been improved with deeper blacks and a higher angle of viewing. Glare has also been reduced by 75 percent, Schiller said.

In preparation of the Retina Display-toting MacBook Pro’s debut, Apple has updated a number of OS X apps including Mail, Safari, iMovie and iPhoto. Professional software like Aperture and Final Cut Pro also received performance bumps to take advantage of the screen’s high resolution.

Third-party apps are also being updated for the Retina display, as Apple showed Diablo III running on the device, and said that Autodesk is working on a new version of AutoCAD.


The next-generation MacBook Pro runs exclusively on Intel’s new Ivy Bridge quad-core Core i7 processors and can be configure with up to 16 gigabytes of RAM. Batteries have also been improved as the unit boasts up to 7 hours of life under normal load along with a MacBook Air-like 30 days of standby time.

As far as connectivity, the new machine features the usual SDXC card reader, but adds two high-speed USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, and HDMI-out. Due to the lack of an optical drive, Apple had space to include ports on both sides of the device and relocated the SDXC card slot and one USB port to the right of the keyboard flanking the HDMI-out connector. New Thunderbolt accessories announced on Monday give FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet capabilities to the new transfer technology.

On the audio/visual front, a new FaceTime HD 720p camera is joined by dual microphones, and are accompanied by what Schiller said are the best stereo speakers Apple has ever put into a notebook.

Rounding out the next-generation MacBook Pro’s feature set is a backlit keyboard, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The machine will also sport a new, smaller MagSafe charging port, which Apple has dubbed “MagSafe 2.”

Pricing for the next-generation 15.4-inch MacBook Pro starts at US$2,199 for a 2.3 gigahertz quad-core Core i7 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM. The most-affordable Retina Display laptop features 256 gigabytes of flash storage and the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The second-tier 2.6GHz model starts at US$2,799 which doubles the SSD size and grants buyers access to the fastest-available 2.7GHz Intel quad-core Core i7 chip.

Tech Specs:
- Height: 0.71 inch (1.8 cm)

- Width: 14.13 inches (35.89 cm)

- Depth: 9.73 inches (24.71 cm)

- Weight: 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg)

Display:
- Retina display: 15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2880-by-1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors

- Supported resolutions: 2880 by 1800 pixels (Retina); scaled resolutions: 1920 by 1200, 1680 by 1050, 1280 by 800, and 1024 by 640 pixels

Storage:
- All flash, 256GB in 2.3GHz model; 512GB or 768GB in 2.6GHz model.

Processor:
- 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with 6MB shared L3 cache (configurable to 2.7GHz)

Memory:
- 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory (configurable to 16GB)

Graphics:
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 with discreet NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching

Video Support and Camera:
- 720p FaceTime HD camera

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, at millions of colors

- Thunderbolt digital video output

- Native Mini DisplayPort output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

Connections and Expansion:
- MagSafe 2 power port

- Two Thunderbolt ports (up to 10 Gbps)

- Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)

- HDMI port

- Headphone port

- SDXC card slot

- Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

- Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter (sold separately, available July)

Wireless:
- 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Dual microphones

- Headphone port

- Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone

- Support for audio line out

Battery and Power:
- Up to 7 hours wireless web

- Up to 30 days standby time

- Built-in 95-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter with cable management system; MagSafe 2 power port

Electrical and Operating Requirements
- Line voltage: 100V to 240V AC

- Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz

- Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)

- Storage temperature: –13° to 113° F (–24° to 45° C)

- Relative humidity: 0% to 90% noncondensing

- Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet

- Maximum storage altitude: 15,000 feet

- Maximum shipping altitude: 35,000 feet

In the Box:
- MacBook Pro with Retina display

- 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter, AC wall plug, and power cord

- Printed and electronic documentation

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.